WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci says he’s worried that people resisting COVID-19 vaccine shots based on religious grounds may be confusing that with a philosophical objection.
Fauci, who is President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, says getting the COVID-19 vaccine is no different in concept than receiving other vaccines such as for measles, which have been done for many years. He says a public health review found “very, very few, literally less than a handful” of established religions which actually oppose vaccinations.
Religious exemptions have been on the rise since Biden last month announced sweeping new COVID-19 vaccine mandates covering more than 100 million Americans.
Fauci acknowledges the challenges of businesses to determine if an employee’s claimed religious exemption is more an excuse to bypass legal requirements.
He told CNN’s “State of the Union”: “I would hope that people would understand that all of this is for their benefit, for the safety of themselves, their family and their societal responsibility.”
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— Distribution problems, hesitancy slow Uganda vaccination bid
— Israel tightens COVID ‘green pass’ rules, sparking protest
— Russia: Antibody tests for COVID-19remain popular, factor in low vaccine rate
— Far-right protesters in Romania reject virus restrictions
See all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
MOSCOW — Russia has reported a record daily death toll from COVID-19. It’s the fifth time in a week that deaths have hit a new high in the country.
The national coronavirus task force said Sunday that 890 deaths were recorded over the past day. That exceeds the 887 reported on Friday. The task force also said the number of new infections in the past day was the second-highest of the year at 25,769.
But officials say there are no plans to impose a lockdown. Mask-wearing regulations are in place but loosely enforced.
The country of 145 million has recorded about 7.5 million infection cases and nearly 210,000 deaths during the pandemic.
JERUSALEM — Israel has restricted its COVID Green Pass to allow only those who have received a vaccine booster dose or recently recuperated from coronavirus to enter indoor events.
Under Sunday’s new guidelines, people eligible for a green pass — a kind of digital vaccination passport — must have received a booster shot.
Those who have received two doses, or those who have recovered from coronavirus, are only eligible for six months after the date of their vaccination or recovery.
Technical problems hamstrung the Health Ministry’s rollout of the updated pass as millions of Israelis tried to reissue digital documentation that would allow entry to restaurants, bars, cultural venues and other indoor activities.
GULU, Uganda — The remote Ugandan district of Gulu is currently a COVID-19 hot spot in the East African country.
There are repeated and sudden power failures that plague the vaccine storage unit. That adds to the logistical challenges facing efforts to ramp up vaccination across the country.
Officials must first account for every dose previously received. So shortages are rampant despite the presence in the country of over 2 million vaccine shots.
The growing supply is giving a headache to health officials who are trying to whip up enthusiasm for vaccines. But many living in rural areas cite safety fears and would rather wait.
SYDNEY — Australia’s New South Wales state has recorded 10 new deaths and 667 locally acquired COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, as its outbreak continues to ease.
“Three weeks ago we had 1,599 cases,” state Health Minister Brad Hazzard said Sunday. “And just three weeks later today I am very pleased to be able to tell the community that we are down, I wanted it down to zero if we can get it there, but 667 today locally acquired cases.”
Meanwhile, the state of Victoria recorded 1,220 new community acquired cases of COVID-19 and three deaths in the past 24 hours. The state, Australia’s second most populous, set a record of 1,488 new cases on Saturday.
“I want to thank each and every one of those more than 71,000 Victorians who went and got tested,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said Sunday. “It is critical to us, knowing where this virus is, where it isn’t.”
There were 71,275 tests conducted Saturday in Victoria and 36,248 vaccine doses administered. There are now 11,785 active cases in the state.
The Australian Capital Territory recorded 38 locally acquired cases in the past 24 hours.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska on Saturday activated emergency crisis protocols that allow 20 health care facilities to ration care if needed as the state recorded the nation’s worst COVID-19 diagnosis rates in the U.S. in recent days, straining its limited health care system.
The declaration covers three facilities that had already declared emergency protocol, including the state’s largest hospital, Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.
Among the factors that led the state to activate the crisis of care standards include scarce medical resources within some facilities, limited staff and difficulty transferring patients to other facilities because of limited bed availability. Other factors included limited renal replacement therapy and oxygen supplies.
According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, one person in every 84 in Alaska was diagnosed with COVID-19 from Sept. 22 to 29. The next highest rate was one in every 164 people in West Virginia.
Statewide, 60% of eligible Alaskans are fully vaccinated.