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Wednesday October 27th, 2021 6:39PM

The Latest: Some Amazon staff to work remotely indefinitely

By The Associated Press
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SEATTLE — Amazon says it will allow many tech and corporate workers to continue working remotely indefinitely as long as they can commute to the office when necessary.

The new policy was announced in a blog post. It’s a change from Amazon’s previous expectation that most employees would need to be in the office at least three days a week after offices reopen from the COVID-19 pandemic in January.

Most of Amazon’s more than 1 million employees worldwide cannot work remotely because they are in the company’s fulfillment and transportation division.

About 50,000 tech and office employees in Seattle work at the company’s headquarters campus. Their absence will hurt nearby businesses.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— Moderna has no plans to share its COVID-19 vaccine recipe

— Merck asks FDA to authorize promising COVID-19 pill

— Russia's new COVID-19 cases, deaths near all-time high

— New Zealand’s doctors and teachers must soon be vaccinated

— Sydney opens to vaccinated after 100-plus days of lockdown

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See all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California’s coronavirus death toll has reached another once-unfathomable milestone — 70,000 people — even as the state emerges from the latest infection surge with the lowest rate of new cases among all states.

Last year at this time, cases in the state started ticking up and by January California was in the throes of the worst spike of the pandemic. Daily deaths approached 700.

The latest surge started in summer and was driven by the delta variant that primarily targeted the unvaccinated. At its worst during this spike, California’s average daily death count was in the low hundreds.

Data collected by Johns Hopkins University showed the state with 70,132 deaths by midday Monday. It’s the most in the nation, surpassing Texas by about 3,000 and Florida by 13,000, although California’s per capita fatality rate of 177 per 100,000 people ranks in the bottom third for the U.S.

“There’s very little if anything ever to compare that to,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s health secretary, said of the level of deaths.

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GENEVA — An expert group advising the World Health Organization on vaccines has recommended that older people and those with compromised immune systems get an extra dose of COVID-19 vaccine as part of their regular schedule, in line with what many rich countries including Britain, France and the U.S. have already recommended for their populations.

At a press briefing on Monday, the WHO’s vaccines director, Dr. Kate O’Brien, said the group was advising that people who have weaker immune systems “should receive an additional dose” of all of the WHO-approved vaccines beyond the normally recommended two doses, to produce an immune response to protect them from severe disease, hospitalization and death.

O’Brien said this third dose should be given to people sometime between one to three months after the second dose and was not considered a booster.

She emphasized that this recommendation does not apply to healthy, younger adults who have a normal immune response to vaccination and have no underlying conditions. The WHO’s expert group recommended that people get the same vaccine they received for their original immunization where possible.

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A tiger at a Sioux Falls zoo has contracted COVID-19.

KELO-TV reported that officials at the Great Plains Zoo say Keesa tested positive for the virus. Staff noticed Keesa was coughing and acting lethargic during the first week of October. The source of Keesa’s infection is unknown.

Other big cats at the facility, including two tigers and a pair of snow leopards, also have shown COVID-19 symptoms. All the animals are being tested and have been taken off exhibit for care and observation. The zoo’s veterinarian, Louden Wright, said most of the cats are recovering.

Other zoos across the country have reported COVID-19 infections in big cats. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved a vaccine for susceptible animals. Great Plans Zoo officials say when they receive the vaccine their animals will be inoculated.

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BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — The state of Vermont is hoping to use $5 million in COVID-19 relief funds to help buy out and move mobile homes in areas at risk of flooding.

The plan builds on lessons learned during flooding from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, and aims to assist mobile home residents with finding a new place to live if they accept the buyout, said Vermont Emergency Management Hazard Mitigation Officer Stephanie Smith.

Vermont Public Radio said a recent statewide report listed flood danger as one of the key areas of concern for mobile home parks across the state. The report singled out parks in Starksboro, Braintree and Bennington as having the greatest risk of damage.

Vermont has wide discretion over how it spends the more that $2.7 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funding it’s expected to receive.

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NUMBERS

On Monday the Vermont Department of Health reported 222 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19, bringing the statewide total since the pandemic began to just under 35,900.

There were 41 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including 12 in intensive care.

The state is reporting a total of 335 fatalities.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Vermont has risen over the past two weeks from 199.57 new cases per day on Sept. 25 to 207.29 new cases per day on Oct. 9.

The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Vermont has risen over the past two weeks from 1.71 deaths per day on Sept. 25 to 2.00 deaths per day on Oct. 9.

The Associated Press is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the United States.

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SEATTLE - Most of Washington’s health care workers have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, with a week left before the state’s immunization deadline.

As of Monday morning, 88% of health care workers had showed proof of vaccination, the Washington State Hospital Association reported. The results include data from 94% of the state’s hospitals, collected after Oct. 4.

The Seattle Times reports the remaining 12% of workers include those who are partially vaccinated, have an approved exemption and accommodation, have applied or plan to apply for an exemption that hasn’t yet been reviewed, have not yet provided vaccination verification, or are choosing not to be vaccinated.

The hospital association said it believes 2% to 5% of hospital staff could leave the workforce because of the mandate.

All health care workers must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 or face “nondisciplinary dismissal” for failure to meet job requirements, Gov. Jay Inslee announced in August. Final vaccination numbers won’t be available until early November, the hospital association said.

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WAUKESHA, Wis. — A parent has sued a southeastern Wisconsin school district after her son contracted COVID-19 from a classmate.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Shannon Jensen filed the lawsuit in federal court against the Waukesha School District and school board on Oct. 5. Jensen is seeking an injunction ordering the district to comply with U.S. Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 guidelines.

According to the lawsuit, the board in May removed a student mask requirement and other COVID-19 mitigation measures. One of Jensen’s son’s classmates came to school with symptoms in September and didn’t wear a mask. Jensen’s son was seated next to the sick student and was wearing a mask but still became infected. Jensen’s other two sons later tested positive as well.

School Board President Joseph Como declined comment on the lawsuit.

The Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC is funding the lawsuit. The brewing company is owned by Kirk Bangstad, who has aired his frustrations about how former President Donald Trump’s administration responded to the pandemic. He ran unsuccessfully against incumbent Republican state Rep. Rob Swearingen last year.

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WEST HAVEN, Conn. — A Connecticut mayor has asked for a forensic investigation into the city’s spending of federal pandemic relief money after coming across issues she says make her suspect fraud.

West Haven Mayor Nancy Rossi, who is also a certified public accountant, said in a video posted on the city’s YouTube page that she came across several large expenditures that might be fraudulent. An FBI spokesperson says agents visited City Hall on Friday but would not confirm whether an investigation was underway.

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lankan authorities have decided to inoculate schoolchildren for COVID-19 starting next week.

According to the Health Ministry, inoculations will begin on Oct. 21 and initially, the vaccine will be given to students in the age group of 18 and 19 years. They will be given only the Pfizer vaccine.

The ministry says everyone over 20 years old has been given a first dose while 82% have received both doses.

Sri Lanka lifted a six-week lockdown on Oct. 1 after COVID-19 cases and deaths showed a rapid decline. The government still maintains strict restrictions. Public gatherings are banned and trains halted.

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