Hillsong founder says vaccines 'personal decision' after member dies

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Business Insider 24 July, 2021 - 07:33pm 88 views

Updated 11:39 AM ET, Sat July 24, 2021

CNN's Jason Hanna contributed to this report.

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NFL pressures players to get vaccinated; states where virus is raging see inoculation uptick: Live COVID news

USA TODAY 24 July, 2021 - 10:20pm

Public health officials and government leaders are pleading for the more people to get their COVID-19 vaccine as cases rise.

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A Texas hospital reported its first case of the lambda variant. But how infectious is it? And do vaccines protect against it? Here's what we know. USA TODAY

Whether it's because of incentives such as cash and college scholarships, or out of fear of the delta variant, vaccinations are starting to pick up in some states where COVID-19 cases are soaring, White House officials said Thursday.

At the same time, some hospitals are getting strained and nearing full capacity as the pace of new cases rises again, more than tripling in the last month. Deaths appear to be trending upward as well, though not as fast.

White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said several states with the highest proportions of new infections have seen residents get vaccinated at higher rates than the nation as a whole. Officials cited Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri and Nevada as examples.

“The fourth surge is real, and the numbers are quite frightening at the moment,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said on a New Orleans radio show. COVID hospitalizations in the state are up from 242 on June 19 to 913 in the latest report.

In Missouri, which is second only to Arkansas and Louisiana in the number of new cases per capita over the past 14 days, officials have rolled out a vaccine incentive program that includes $10,000 prizes for 900 lottery winners. The state lags about 10 percentage points behind the national average for people who have received at least one shot.

About 60% of the adult population and nearly 50% of the entire U.S. population are fully vaccinated, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The highly infectious delta variant is fueling the latest spike, and public health officials and government leaders are pleading for the vaccine-hesitant to get the shots.

“We are yet at another pivotal moment in this pandemic,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. “We need to come together as one nation.”

►Atlanta Public Schools, whose students return to classrooms Aug. 5, will require masks for all students and teachers in school and on buses.

►The European Union said Thursday it will donate more than 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to middle- and low-income countries before the end of the year.

►An infected Indonesian man boarded a domestic flight disguised as his wife, wearing a veil and carrying fake IDs and a negative PCR test result, authorities said. A flight attendant discovered the ruse when the man changed clothes in the lavatory.

►Tokyo hit another six-month high in new COVID-19 cases Thursday, one day before the Olympics begin. Four more residents of the Olympic Village have tested positive, including skateboarder Candy Jacobs of the Netherlands and table tennis player Pavel Sirucek of the Czech Republic.

►Children under 12 years old could start getting vaccinated for the coronavirus within a few weeks, President Joe Biden says. But it likely will be longer.

📈Today's numbers: The U.S. has had more than 34.2 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 609,900 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 192.2 million cases and 4.1 million deaths. More than 162 million Americans — 48.8% of the population — have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

The NFL is putting financial and competitive pressure on players to get vaccinated.

The league told clubs Thursday in a memo that they would risk forfeiting games that have to be postponed because of COVID outbreaks among unvaccinated players. The NFL also said players from both teams would not get paid for those games that are postponed and can't be rescheduled during the season.

As opposed to last year, when the league had contingency plans for an extra week of play for postponed games but did not need it, the NFL's memo says, "We do not anticipate adding a ‘19th week’ to accommodate games that cannot be rescheduled within the current 18 weeks of the regular season.”

The effectiveness of COVID vaccines and the vulnerability of those who have not been inoculated -- especially now with the delta variant raging -- is illustrated by an outbreak at a boys and girls camp in Columbia County, New York.

Jack Mabb, director of the county's public health department, told the New York Times that 31 of the 550 campers have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Thursday morning. They're all under 12, and therefore not eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

About half of the participants at the sleepaway camp are ages 12-17, and none have tested positive. Mabb said all but a handful have been vaccinated. Though none of the campers infected with the virus have gotten seriously sick, Mabb said he's worried about what this outbreak portends for the upcoming school year.

“I think that when the kids go back to school, we could see this, and I’m concerned about that,” he told the newspaper.

Last year's flu season was nearly nonexistent, thanks in large part to the masking and social distancing required by the coronavirus pandemic. Now that restrictions have been lifted across the country, health experts are seeing a surprising rise in cold cases that are more typical of the fall and winter months.

Colds and COVID-19 have several symptoms in common — fever, runny nose, sore throat, a cough and general fatigue — which may lead some people to conclude they've contracted the coronavirus.

The only real way to know is to get tested, but regardless of the diagnosis, the strategy for both is the same.

“Stay home and take care of yourself and reduce the exposure,” said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist and internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

China on Thursday rejected the World Health Organization's plan for the second phase of a study into the origins of COVID-19, dismissing a theory that the virus might have leaked from a Chinese lab as a scientifically unsupported rumor. A previous joint investigation including WHO and China found it "extremely unlikely" the virus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus last week unveiled a plan to revisit labs and markets in Wuhan, the city where the first cases were identified. Tedros also called for greater transparency from Beijing. 

“It is impossible for us to accept such an origin-tracing plan,” Zeng Yixin, vice minister of the National Health Commission, said at a news conference.

The U.S. and some allies claim China has not been forthcoming about details of the early days of the pandemic. Former Vice President Mike Pence, who led President Donald Trump's virus response team, last week claimed evidence strongly suggests the coronavirus "leapt out of the Chinese lab."

China accuses critics of politicizing an issue that should be left to scientists.

Coronavirus cases hit a low point in the United States on June 22. In the month since, new weekly cases have more than tripled, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. The U.S. had been reporting about eight cases every minute. Now it's about 28. The nation has already reported about 164,000 more cases in July than in all of June. Cases have been rising in almost every state. Some of the changes echo the dark days from earlier in the pandemic. From June 22, the pace of new cases is up 762% in Alabama, 666% in South Carolina and 603% in Louisiana.

Recurring themes behind the increases: vaccine hesitancy and the delta variant.

Some hospitals have been besieged. The number of likely COVID-19 patients tripled in Nevada on July 17 from a month earlier, a USA TODAY analysis of U.S. government data shows. COVID patient counts almost doubled in Arkansas and Mississippi. Alaska went from 13 hospitalized COVID patients to 64.

The pace of deaths has traditionally fallen a few weeks behind case reports. COVID-19 was killing about 217 Americans a day at the low point a couple of weeks ago. Now it's killing about 245.

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The nation's largest hospital association is calling for all healthcare workers to get vaccinated as cases rise around the country. “To protect all patients, communities and personnel from the known and substantial risks of COVID-19, the American Hospital Association strongly urges the vaccination of all healthcare personnel,” the organization said in a policy statement. “The AHA also supports hospitals and health systems that adopt mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies for healthcare personnel, with local factors and circumstances shaping whether and how these policies are implemented.”

The AHA — which represents nearly 5,000 hospitals — is the largest healthcare group to endorse mandatory vaccine requirements for health workers. Health officials said the best protection remains vaccination, noting the shots reduce the risks of serious illness, hospitalization and death.

“The vaccines are very robust,” Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told USA TODAY. “What we’re seeing now in the United States, as the CDC director said, is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. That’s where the risk is.”

On Thursday, the head of the Henry Ford Health System in Michigan defended the organization's decision to require its employees to get vaccinated, saying it is "the right thing to do for the health and safety of our patients, our workforce and the communities we serve.''

American beach volleyball player Taylor Crabb tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Japan and is unlikely to compete at the Tokyo Olympics, according to reports Wednesday. The Orange County Register and an NBC affiliate in Los Angeles each reported that Crabb, 29, recorded a positive test over the weekend, which would likely preclude him from competing in his first scheduled match with partner Jake Gibb on Sunday.

Crabb would be the first U.S. athlete to be ruled out of competing at the Olympics after testing positive for COVID-19 in Japan.

USA Volleyball confirmed in a statement that one of its members tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival but declined to provide any other additional details, including the identity of the person.

"In alignment with local rules and protocols, the athlete has been transferred to a hotel,'' the organization said. "Out of respect for the individual’s privacy, we cannot provide more information at this time."

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California man who said he had ’99 problems but a vax ain’t one’ dies from COVID-19

Yahoo News 24 July, 2021 - 10:20pm

Tributes are pouring in on social media for Stephen Harmon, a 34-year-old congregant of Hillsong Church who died of COVID-19 after he posted jokes about the pandemic.

Harmon, a graduate of Hillsong College, died Wednesday after a month-long bout with the coronavirus, The Daily Beast reports. Prior to his death, he shared several social media posts in which he appeared to not take the pandemic too seriously.

He made memes about trusting his faith over Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“When you can’t trust the Bible cause it was written by man, but you trust the CDC/Fauci guidelines cause they were written by man,” he wrote. “Makes total sense.”

“Biden’s door to door vaccine ‘surveyors’ really should be called JaCovid Witnesses. #keepmovingdork,” Harmon tweeted on July 8. In June he wrote, “IF YOU’RE HAVING EMAIL PROBLEMS, I FEEL BAD FOR YOU, SON. I GOT 99 PROBLEMS BUT A VAX AIN’T ONE!”

“I’m overwhelmed by the kindness shown by so many of you over these last three weeks,” he said.

“Please pray y’all, they really want to intubate me and put me on a ventilator.

“Even the slightest movements and my heart rate skyrockets and oxygen dependency increases,” he tweeted.

i’m choosing to going under intubation, i’ve fought this thing as hard as i can but unfortunately it’s reached a point of critical choice & as much as i hate having to do this i’d rather it be willingness than forced emergency procedure. don’t know when i’ll wake up, please pray,” he wrote.

“Stephen was just a young man in his early 30’s. He was a graduate from Hillsong College and a vital part of our church in California. He was one of the most generous people I know and he had so much in front of him. He would always turn up to our grandkids soccer games and he will be missed by so many. RIP.”

Harmon’s death prompted social media users to encourage others to take the COVID vaccine.

“RIP. Please get vaccinated everyone. This is too tragic. A young life lost way too soon,” one Instagram user wrote in a reply to Houston’s post.

Houston also shared news of Harmon’s death on Twitter, and while the message was met with mixed responses from pro-vax individuals, many slammed the pastor for not urging church members to take the jab.

Another wrote, “I’m sorry for your loss. God made brains and intellect; that became science and medicine, among other things. Taking vaccines is not an affront against faith. It is gratitude for all the glorious things that God has given us and faith in His messengers and works through others.”

A third added, “It’s heartbreaking news. And it will happen over and over and over again if people don’t get vaccinated. Please stand up for human life. Please don’t let Stephen Harmon’s death be in vain. Please get vaccinated against Covid-19.”

Another user noted: “Viruses don’t suffer fools gladly, and being arrogant and reckless on top of that seems to attract their attention. A cautionary tale for others who still think they’re thinking when they think like Stephen Harmon.”

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Expert Group In Talks With Pfizer For Vaccine Supply: Health Minister

NDTV 24 July, 2021 - 10:20pm

The health ministry said domestic manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines have been paid in advance (File)

An expert group of the Indian government is in talks with global pharma major Pfizer over COVID vaccine supply, said Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Friday.

Speaking at Lok Sabha, Union Health Minister said, "The Prime Minister has said many times not to politicise vaccination programme. It is our aim to vaccinate every citizen above 18 years of age in the country. This is not the time to do politics. An expert group of the Indian government is still in talks with Pfizer over COVID vaccine supply."

The health ministry further informed the Parliament that Rs 9,725.15 crore have been spent so far on the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar, Minister of State, Health Ministry said, "A total of Rs 9,725.15 crore have been spent so far on the COVID-19 vaccination programme including procurement of vaccines and operational cost for vaccination. A total of 135 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccine are expected to be available between August 2021 to December 2021."

Dr Pawar informed that advance payments have been made to domestic manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines so that no delay in procurement arises.

"There has been no delay in entering into purchase agreements with the domestic vaccine manufacturers. Advance payments have also been made to manufacturers for the supply orders placed with them," added the Union minister.

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No shortage of vaccines, govt providing free jabs to states and UTs, Lok Sabha told

India Today 24 July, 2021 - 10:20pm

Advance visibility of vaccine allocation -- total doses that would be available for states and UTs -- are provided 15 days in advance to enable them to plan for acceleration of vaccination coverage while being cognizant of the available vaccines, she said in a written reply.

Asked whether the government is aware that many inoculation sites got closed down due to non-availability of vaccines there, Pawar said, "There has been no shortage of vaccines and the Government of India has been providing free supply of vaccines to states and UTs for administration to prioritised beneficiaries as recommended by NEGVAC (National Empowered Group on Vaccine Administration against Covid-19)."

On whether the government is aware that less than 10 per cent of Indians have got single dose of Covid vaccine despite India being the world's leading vaccine manufacturer, the minister said as of July 20, around 34.5 per cent of the estimated population aged 18 years and above has received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

As of July 20, 2021, a total of 32.64 crore first doses and 8.55 crore second doses have been administered across the country. A total of 2.15 lakh Covid-19 vaccination centres have been operational across the country, Pawar said.

The Government of India has taken many steps to augment the domestic manufacturing capacity of Covid-19 vaccines.

These include support to M/s Bharat Biotech and three Public Sector Enterprises under 'Mission COVID Suraksha-the Indian Covid-19 Vaccine Development Mission', technology transfer of Covaxin production, financial assistance to one of the domestic vaccine manufacturers for 'at-risk manufacturing', advance payment against the supply orders placed with M/s Serum Institute of India and M/s Bharat Biotech, and streamlining of regulatory norms for approval of vaccines, the minister said.

Copyright © 2021 Living Media India Limited. For reprint rights: Syndications Today

Coronavirus: California man who made fun of vaccine dies of virus

WHIO Radio 24 July, 2021 - 09:52pm

Stephen Harmon, 34, of Corona, died at Corona Regional Medical Center, KCBS reported.

Hillsong Church global senior pastor Brian Houston announced Harmon’s death on social media this week, CNN reported Saturday. Harmon attended the Los Angeles church.

“Stephen was just a young man in his early 30s,” Houston wrote on Instagram. “He was one of the most generous people I know and he had so much in front of him.”

Harmon had joked about the vaccine and rewrote the lyrics to a Jay-Z song in a social media post, tweeting, “I got 99 problems but a vax ain’t one,” according to KABC.

On July 8, Harmon posted: “Biden’s door to door vaccine ‘surveyors’ really should be called JaCovid Witnesses,” The Associated Press reported.

Harmon used his Twitter and Instagram accounts to chronicle his hospital stay, KABC reported.

His final tweet from his now-protected Twitter account was written Wednesday before he was intubated, according to KCBS.

“I’m choosing to go under intubation,” Harmon tweeted. “I’ve fought this thing as hard as I can but unfortunately it’s reached a point of critical choice.

“And as much as I hate having to do this, I’d rather it be willingness than forced emergency procedure,” Harmon added. “Don’t know when I’ll wake up, please pray.”

Three days before his death from COVID, Stephen Harmon tweeted, "If you don't have faith that God can heal me over your stupid ventilator then keep the Hell out of my ICU room, there's no room in here for fear or lack of faith!" https://t.co/IMQwyIHU6h

According to KCBS, Harmon tweeted three days before his death that, “If you don’t have faith that God can heal me over your stupid ventilator then keep the hell out of my ICU room. There’s no room in here for fear or lack of faith!”

Harmon was a graduate of Hillson College, the television station reported.

“I can’t even emphasize how unbelievably demoralizing this is,” Dr. Oren Friedman said, who treats COVID-19 patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, told KCBS. “Virtually every single person that is getting sick enough to be admitted to the hospital has not been vaccinated.”

In a statement to KCBS and CNN, Houston said that “any loss of life is a moment to mourn and offer support to those who are suffering and so our heartfelt prayers are with his family and those who loved him.”

“On any medical issue, we strongly encourage those in our church to follow the guidance of their doctors,” Houston added. “While many of our staff, leadership and congregation have already received the COVID-19 vaccine, we recognize this is a personal decision for each individual to make with the counsel of medical professionals.”

Health officials said most of the COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among people who are not vaccinated.

”If we didn’t have 5.3 million people fully vaccinated in L.A. County, we would probably be seeing almost double the number of cases today,” Barbara Ferrer, director of Los Angeles County Public Health, told KABC. ”As cases continue to rise, many of us are trying to figure out what steps to take to minimize exposure to the virus. For those eligible and not yet vaccinated, now would be an important time to get your vaccine because our three vaccines all offer a lot of protection to the vaccinated person and also slow down the spread.”

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