Unvaccinated Americans abroad will need a COVID-19 test within 24 hours of flying home from November, rather than the current 3 days, the White House said

thanksgiving travel test coronavirus 2020
A health care worker tests a traveller at a COVID-19 testing station at LAX airport.

  • Unvaccinated Americans abroad will need a negative COVID-19 test within a day of their return flight from November.
  • They will also need to buy a “viral test” to take when back in the US, the White House said.
  • Currently, returning Americans need a test within 72 hours of flying, regardless of vaccination status.

Unvaccinated Americans abroad will have to test negative for COVID-19 within a day of their return flight to the US, rather than within three days, under new rules coming in November, the White House press secretary said Monday.

Jen Psaki said in a briefing that unvaccinated Americans flying home would need “proof of a negative test result taken within one day of their departure,” as well as proof they have bought a “viral test” to take when they get to the US.

The rules would “obviously apply to children as well,” she said.

Current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rules state that all air passengers coming to the United States, including US citizens and vaccinated people, must have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their flight, or proof that they’ve recovered from COVID-19 in the past three months.

Everyone must be tested three to five days after their return flight, too. Unvaccinated people must also self-quarantine for seven full days even if they test negative – if they don’t get tested, they must self-isolate for 10 days. Vaccinated people don’t have to self-quarantine if they test negative.

Some of the details of the upcoming November rules remain unclear, such as what kind of tests passengers would need to prove they have bought, and whether the new rules apply to partially vaccinated people. Psaki said there were ongoing “discussions” about how the new process would work.

About 37% of the US population are unvaccinated, according to Our World in Data. A further 9% are partially vaccinated, according to the data.

The CDC has advised against international travel for unvaccinated Americans since January.

The announcement came as the White House said it expected to ease the travel ban for vaccinated travelers from Europe and the UK. The ban has been in place since March 14, 2020.

Some airlines worldwide have already mandated vaccines for flyers. Alan Joyce, chief executive officer at Qantas, said on September 9 that the airline would only allow vaccinated people to board its flights.

It’s not yet clear whether the White House will introduce vaccine mandates for domestic flights.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, said Sunday that the Biden administration had “not yet gotten to the point of requiring vaccinations on domestic flights, but everything is on the table.”

“I would support that if you want to get on a plane and travel with other people then you should be vaccinated,” he said.

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CDC director endorsed Pfizer booster shots for older Americans, people with underlying conditions, and those with higher risk on the job, partially breaking from advisory panel

Rochelle Walensky
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky

  • The CDC endorsed booster shots for Americans 65 and older and at-risk groups late Thursday.
  • CDC Director Rochelle Walensky partially broke with the advisory panel, endorsing shots for those at higher risk due to their job.
  • That could include healthcare workers, teachers, and grocery store employees, among others.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed booster shots of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for select groups late Thursday evening. The move means the jabs can start being administered.

In line with the recommendations made by a CDC advisory panel earlier on Thursday, the CDC endorsed the shots for Americans 65 and older, residents of nursing homes, and adults aged 18 to 64 with underlying health conditions.

But Director Rochelle Walensky partially broke from the panel, endorsing the booster shots for people who are at an increased risk of getting COVID-19 while at work or because of where they live. That could include healthcare workers, teachers, grocery store employees, and people who live in prisons or homeless shelters.

Hours after the panel voted 9-6 not to recommend boosters for those groups, Walensky overruled them.

“As CDC Director, it is my job to recognize where our actions can have the greatest impact,” Walensky said in a statement late Thursday, according to The Associated Press. “At CDC, we are tasked with analyzing complex, often imperfect data to make concrete recommendations that optimize health. In a pandemic, even with uncertainty, we must take actions that we anticipate will do the greatest good.”

Walensky noted her recommendation aligned with the Food and Drug Administration, which recommended on Wednesday that adults “in an occupational or institutional setting” that increases their risk of getting COVID-19 also be eligible for the shot.

The CDC advisory panel, made up of independent medical experts, broke with the FDA on that recommendation in a split decision on Thursday. The panel said it was concerned the move could send mixed messages about the vaccines, which are incredibly effective at preventing severe illness.

Walensky also said Thursday the primary goal remains to get unvaccinated Americans their first shot. According to the CDC, as of Thursday, 55% of the US population is fully vaccinated, while 64% had received at least one dose.

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CDC advisory panel voted against giving workers with a higher risk of getting COVID-19 a Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot, after FDA authorized it

Vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration authorized booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for use in some groups on Wednesday, and lots of American workers just became eligible.

The FDA authorized the boosters for people 65 and older and people 18 to 64 who are at a high risk of getting a severe case of COVID-19. It also approved the shots for people 18 to 64 who are at a higher risk of getting COVID-19 while at work. That could include healthcare workers, teachers, and grocery store employees, among other occupations.

But on Thursday, an independent group of medical advisors to the Centers for Disease Control split with the FDA and voted 9-6 against recommending booster doses for adults who are at greater risk of COVID exposure in their work, including healthcare workers and teachers.

The CDC panel did vote to recommend boosters to older adults who had their first two shots at least six months ago, as well as to adults with underlying medical conditions. While the vote for older adults was unanimous, the panel split 13-2 on recommending boosters to 50-64 year-olds with underlying conditions, and 9-6 on recommending extra shots for 18-49 year-olds.

Unlike the initial vaccine rollout, the US is less likely to face a supply issue where those who are eligible have a difficult time getting a shot.

The US is still urging Americans to get their first vaccine dose. As of Wednesday, 75% of eligible Americans 12 years of age or older had received one vaccine dose according to the CDC, while 64% were fully vaccinated.

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A family member of a COVID-19 patient reportedly threatened a nurse after she wouldn’t treat him with ivermectin

icu covid doctor hospital
A doctor checks the vital signs of a patient at the Intensive Care Unit of Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center in Tarzana, California, on January 3, 2021.

  • An Idaho COVID-19 patient’s family threatened a nurse for refusing to treat him with Ivermectin, BuzzFeed News reported.
  • The nurse said a family member told her they have “ways to get people to do something, and they’re all sitting in my gun safe.”
  • The threats are a part of a larger pattern of violence against medical staff during the pandemic.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The family member of a COVID-19 patient in Boise, Idaho, threatened a nurse who wouldn’t treat the man with ivermectin, BuzzFeed News reported.

The night shift nurse recalled how the police had to remove the man’s son-in-law from the hospital after he told her, “If you don’t do this, I have a lot of ways to get people to do something, and they’re all sitting in my gun safe at home,” according to BuzzFeed News.

Ivermectin is a deworming drug popularly used in animals that the FDA has warned against using in COVID-19 patients. The drug has become widely promoted among conspiracy theory circles as a treatment for COVID-19 – often by those who refuse to get vaccinated.

The nurse, Ashley Carvalho, told BuzzFeed News that hostility to healthcare workers and a new surge of COVID-19 cases are taking their toll, adding that she’s more anxious now than she was before vaccines were available.

“I think it’s just kind of a hopeless feeling,” she said.

Healthcare workers across the US have seen a rise in violent threats

The threat against Carvalho is a part of a larger trend of violence against medical staff during the pandemic.

Karen Garvey, the vice president of patient safety and clinical risk management at Parkland Health & Hospital System, told the Texas Tribune in March that her hospital has seen a rise in violent threats since the pandemic began.

Garvey said there have been “people being punched in the chest, having urine thrown on them, and inappropriate sexual innuendos or behaviors in front of staff members.” She also said medical staff have been called names and racial slurs in addition to getting broken bones and noses.

Natalie Higgins, a nurse at CoxHealth in Springfield, Missouri, told KYTV that the number of physical and verbal assaults in her hospital rose in 2021 as the pandemic raged on.

“The first time I got verbally attacked by a patient, I was like ‘Oh, my gosh.’ Like I expected it, but not to the extent we see it every day,” Higgins said. “The first time someone lunges at you, even still today, when they lunge at you, it’s terrifying.”

Higgins said CoxHealth has installed panic buttons on each staff member’s ID badge to alert security when staffers are in danger.

Researchers and nurses have sounded the alarm on the rise in workplace assaults in hospitals, but according to The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, the real number of assaults on healthcare workers may actually be much higher due to a lack of mandatory reporting.

“Alarmingly, the actual number of violent incidents involving health care workers is likely much higher because reporting is voluntary,” the commission wrote.

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The leader of a Hawaii anti-vax group caught COVID-19 and almost died. He now supports vaccines and wants his group’s protests to stop.

A poster shows a cartoon of a woman with a hibiscus flower in her hair wearing a blue mask, reading: "wear face protection."
A poster in an airport in Honolulu, Hawaii.

  • The founder of a Hawaii group opposing COVID-19 rules and vaccine mandates has asked people to stop.
  • Chris Wikoff, who was recently hospitalized with COVID-19, previously dismissed it as “a little flu.”
  • He told local media he is considering getting vaccinated now.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The cofounder of a Hawaiian group protesting vaccine mandates and COVID-19 rules is now calling people to end the cause after being hospitalized with the disease himself.

Chris Wikoff, 66, said he no longer wanted to participate in the group and asked for his name to be removed from the members’ list, Hawaii News Now reported Monday.

“I want to mind my own business and isolate,” he told Hawaii News Now.

Wikoff cofounded the Aloha Freedom Coalition in October 2020 in response to a lockdown order which the group said was ruining business and threatening individual liberties, Hawaii News Now reported.

The group now opposes vaccine mandates and vaccine passports. On Sunday it called the White House “traitors” for considering vaccine passports for air travel.

Wikoff said he previously believed vaccine mandates and passports seemed “over-the-top totalitarian control” because he didn’t believe the disease was that serious, Hawai News Now reported.

“We were told the COVID virus was not that deadly, it was nothing more than a little flu,” he told Hawaii News Now.

“Well, I can tell you: it’s more than the little flu.”

Wikoff’s change of position came after he was hospitalized after catching COVID-19 in August, per Hawaii News Now. “I was afraid I was going to die,” he told the outlet.

He urged people to stop participating in the protests and rallies his group was organizing, including those taking part outside of Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor Josh Green’s house, Hawaii News Now reported.

“Before I thought Josh Green was exaggerating the situation and after my experience, he sounds very rational to me,” he said, per Hawaii News Now.

A picture of Wikoff, who according to Hawaii News Now still needs help breathing, can be seen here:

Wikoff says now he is considering getting vaccinated because his family and doctors recommended it, Hawaii News Now reported.

“Probably getting COVID again would be more dangerous than getting the reaction from the vaccines,” he told Hawaii News Now, adding: “The COVID vaccine has been proven to be safe and effective.”

In a statement, the Aloha Freedom Coalition said it would “continue to fight against blanket mandates and for an individual’s right to choose,” Hawaii News Now reported.

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Workers with a higher risk of getting COVID-19, like healthcare workers and teachers, are eligible for a Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot

Vaccine
  • The FDA authorized booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for some groups on Wednesday.
  • People 18 to 64 who have a higher risk of getting COVID-19 at work are among the eligible groups.
  • That could include healthcare workers, teachers, and grocery store employees, among others.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Food and Drug Administration authorized booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for use in some groups on Wednesday, and lots of American workers just became eligible.

The FDA authorized the boosters for people 65 and older and people 18 to 64 who are at a high risk of getting a severe case of COVID-19. It also approved the shots for people 18 to 64 who are at a higher risk of getting COVID-19 while at work.

That could include healthcare workers, teachers, and grocery store employees, among other occupations.

“Today’s action demonstrates that science and the currently available data continue to guide the FDA’s decision-making for COVID-19 vaccines during this pandemic,” Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement, adding that the authorization was amended “to allow for a booster dose in certain populations such as health care workers, teachers, and daycare staff, grocery workers and those in homeless shelters or prisons, among others.”

The FDA also authorized the boosters for those 18 to 64 who are at a higher risk of getting COVID-19 because of where they reside, such as prisons and other institutions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to issue more guidance on who should be prioritized to receive the booster shots. But similar to the initial vaccine rollout, it will be up to state and local governments to implement.

Unlike the initial vaccine rollout, the US is less likely to face a supply issue where those who are eligible have a difficult time getting a shot.

The US is still urging Americans to get their first vaccine dose. As of Wednesday, 75% of eligible Americans 12 years of age or older had received one vaccine dose according to the CDC, while 64% were fully vaccinated.

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FDA authorizes boosters of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for older adults and others at high risk from COVID-19

pfizer vaccine distribution UK
A nurse prepares to inject staff with the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.

  • The FDA authorized boosters of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for older adults and people at higher risk.
  • Booster shots are likely to be available in locations like pharmacies and clinics at no cost.
  • The US is still struggling to convince many people to get their first doses of coronavirus vaccines.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The US coronavirus booster-shot campaign has cleared a crucial hurdle.

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for older adults and others at high risk from the pandemic. Boosters can be given starting six months after the first two doses of the shot. The agency said that getting a third shot is safe and can help increase protection against the disease.

The FDA decision caps more than a month of messy debate over the US vaccination drive. In mid-August, a group of President Joe Biden’s top health officials issued an extraordinary joint statement saying that boosters were coming. The statement prompted controversy because it came before reviews by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and before much data on the safety or effectiveness of boosters was available.

The US has already greenlit an extra vaccine dose for people with compromised immune systems, and some countries have embarked on booster-shot campaigns focused on vulnerable individuals.

Under the FDA’s emergency-use authorization, four main groups of people are eligible for booster shots:

  • People 65 and older;
  • People 18 to 64 who are at high risk of a severe case of COVID-19 if they get sick;
  • People 18 to 64 who are at higher risk of getting COVID-19 at work, such as healthcare workers and teachers;
  • People 18 to 64 who are at higher risk of getting COVID-19 because of where they live, such as those in prisons and other institutions.

Protecting the most vulnerable amid the pandemic

The hope is that booster shots will help protect those most at risk as the pandemic continues to surge, fueled by the rise of the Delta variant. Delta is more contagious, and appears to be able to partially elude the protection offered by vaccines.

Still, the US is struggling to convince much of its population to get coronavirus vaccines at all. Just over 64% of people 12 and older are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

“At this moment, it is clear that the unvaccinated are driving transmission in the United States,” Dr. Amanda Cohn from the CDC said during an FDA meeting on boosters shots on Friday. Cohn said that masks and social distancing are still crucial, because “vaccination will never be perfect” at preventing every case.

The CDC still needs to weigh in formally on who should be prioritized to receive booster doses. The agency’s vaccine advisory committee is set to discuss booster shots on Thursday.

Janet Woodcock
Interim FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock.

The Biden administration has said that once approved, booster shots will be widely available in locations like pharmacies and clinics. They’ll be offered to individuals for free.

Expanding the reach of boosters

The FDA decision is a setback for Pfizer, which had asked the agency to make boosters available to everyone over age 16, six months after their second dose.

It comes after a panel of doctors and other experts advising the FDA voted against the idea of making booster shots available that widely. The panel instead said that boosters should be given to people 65 and older, and to those most at risk of severe cases of COVID-19.

Experts on the panel said there wasn’t enough evidence showing the benefits of an extra vaccine dose for younger people. They also expressed concern that there wasn’t enough safety data for younger adults, highlighting the risk of myocarditis, or heart inflammation, that has been seen at higher-than-usual levels in teenagers and 20-somethings who have been vaccinated.

“The incremental benefit to the younger population really has not been demonstrated at all,” Dr. Michael Kurilla, an infectious disease expert from the National Institutes of Health, said during the meeting.

“I think we need to target the boosters right now specifically to the people who are likely to be at high risk, and it’s an older population.”

‘A good step to protect yourself’

Infectious-disease experts who aren’t on the FDA’s committee said the group made the right call to limit the initial rollout to more vulnerable people.

“If you fall into the age category, this is a good step to protect yourself,” said Gigi Gronvall, an immunologist and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

The booster rollout shouldn’t distract from effort to get more unvaccinated people to get their initial shots, said Bernadette Boden-Albala, director of the University of California, Irvine’s public-health program.

“If you’re not vaccinated, get vaccinated,” Boden-Albala said. “If you are vaccinated, be vigilant. And if you’re vaccinated and eligible for the booster, get it.”

The FDA still has plenty of work ahead on coronavirus vaccines. The agency is reviewing an application from Moderna to give a third shot of its two-dose vaccine. Johnson & Johnson recently put out data showing that its vaccine is more effective after a second dose, and said it’d provided the information to the FDA.

The agency is also being pressed to make vaccines available to younger kids. Pfizer has said it plans to submit data from a study of kids ages 5 to 11 to FDA in early October, and the agency could reach a decision by the end of that month. The drugmaker then plans to submit data from kids between 6 months and 5 years old in November.

Kathrin Jansen, Pfizer head of vaccine research and development
Kathrin Jansen, Pfizer’s head of vaccine research and development

The case for boosters

To make the case for booster shots, Pfizer presented results from at least eight studies showing protection from the vaccine wanes over time and that a booster could help. The company also cited data from Israel that showed big benefits from boosters in older people. That data comes from an observational study and could be skewed by factors that researchers weren’t aware of or couldn’t account for.

The FDA’s own review of the evidence for extra shots avoided taking a firm stance on some of the largest questions surrounding boosters, and noted that Pfizer didn’t formally evaluate the efficacy of boosters.

In a statement on Friday, Pfizer said that it believes booster shots are “a critical tool in the ongoing effort to control the spread of this virus.”

“We continue to believe in the benefits of a booster dose for a broader population,” Kathrin Jansen, Pfizer’s head of vaccine research & development, said in the statement.

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The verdict is in: Pregnant women pass COVID-fighting antibodies to their unborn children

pregnant woman covid vaccine
Obstetrician and gynecologist Yelena Rogatinskaya receives the Sputnik V vaccine in St Petersburg, Russia, on September 13, 2021.

  • Pregnant women pass coronavirus antibodies to their unborn children, a spate of research suggests.
  • A new study found high antibody levels in newborns whose mothers had received the Pfizer or Moderna shots.
  • Studies have also shown that mothers can transfer antibodies to infants through breast milk.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New data suggests COVID-19 vaccines do more than protect mothers-to-be: Pregnant women also pass coronavirus antibodies to their unborn children.

A new study from researchers at New York University found high levels of coronavirus antibodies in the blood of newborns whose mothers had received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. The study looked at 36 newborns and found that all of them had antibodies when they were delivered.

Mothers who’d been vaccinated 13 weeks before giving birth seemed to pass along higher levels of antibodies than mothers who’d been vaccinated more than 20 weeks before giving birth. But the researchers said more data is needed to determine whether there’s really a correlation between the timing of the vaccine and a newborn’s antibody levels.

It’s also not yet clear how well the newborn babies were protected from coronavirus infections, or how long that protection might last. Still, the researchers suggested coronavirus antibodies may give infants protection during the neonatal period – their first four weeks – or longer.

“If babies could be born with antibodies, it could protect them in the first several months of their lives, when they are most vulnerable,” Ashley Roman, one of the study authors, said in a press release.

The team wrote that their findings “add to a growing list of important reasons why women should be advised to receive the COVID vaccine during pregnancy.”

Babies can inherit antibodies from vaccines or infections

newborn baby and mother
Alexis Small prepares her newborn baby, Aubrielle Kitchen, to visit family on November 26, 2020 in Los Angeles.

Pregnant women develop antibodies in response to a vaccine or an infection, then transfer them in two key ways. Antibodies can travel from the placenta to unborn children through the umbilical cord. Newborns can also take in these antibodies through breast milk. That’s true for antibodies from other vaccines, too, like the flu shot.

A January study found that pregnant women who’d had COVID-19 transferred coronavirus antibodies across the placenta to their unborn children. Of the 83 women in that study who had antibodies at the time they gave birth, 87% passed them to their children. A similar study looked at 88 pregnant women who’d had prior coronavirus infections and found that around 78% of their newborns inherited antibodies.

But ultimately, newborns may get the best protection from vaccinated mothers: Several studies have found that pregnant women develop higher antibody levels if they’re vaccinated than if they previously had COVID-19.

Protection from vaccines also develops fairly quickly. An August study found that pregnant women developed antibodies from either the Pfizer or Moderna shots as early as five days after their first dose, then transferred those antibodies to their newborn babies as early as 16 days after the first dose.

The benefits of COVID-19 shots outweigh the risks for pregnant women and their babies

mother stroller vaccine
A mother with her baby awaits her turn to be vaccinated in Sardinia, Italy, on May 15, 2021.

US regulators began recommending COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant women in April.

Studies have shown that the shots are highly effective for these women: Pfizer’s vaccine lowered the risk of coronavirus infections by 78% among 7,500 pregnant women in Israel, according to a July study. (Pfizer is also currently doing its own study of how its vaccine performs among pregnant women.)

The shots don’t pose any serious safety risks for pregnant women, either. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last month that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines haven’t increased the risk of miscarriage among US women. And an August study from NYU found that COVID-19 vaccines didn’t increase the chances of birth complications or harm to the fetus, either.

The risk of dying from COVID-19, meanwhile, is nearly twice as high for pregnant women as it is for nonpregnant women of the same age. Infants also have a higher risk of severe COVID-19 than older kids, likely because their immune systems are less developed.

And yet, as of August, just 23% of pregnant women in the US were vaccinated.

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Nearly 70% of hiring managers say they are more likely to hire someone already vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a new survey

Now hiring sign
Photo of a help wanted sign along Middle Country Road in Selden on July 20, 2021.

As employment numbers across the US continue to lag, a new factor in the typical hiring process could complicate Americans’ return to work.

One thing is clear: Companies want vaccinated employees.

According to a survey conducted by ResumeBuilder.com, 69% of hiring managers are more likely to hire someone who has already been vaccinated against COVID-19 than someone who has yet to be inoculated.

The website, which aims to help job seekers find employment, surveyed 1,250 hiring managers across the country in August and found that vaccination status is shaping up to be a major sticking point for many companies.

One-third of the hiring managers surveyed said they would automatically eliminate resumes that don’t include an applicant’s COVID-19 vaccination status.

Of the 1,250 managers surveyed, 63% of them work for companies that were already mandating the vaccines among employees in mid-August. At those companies, 43% of hiring managers said they would throw out resumes that don’t include the candidate’s vaccination status, with an additional 33% saying they would give vaccinated applicants priority in the hiring process.

Industries in which hiring managers surveyed said they prefer seeing applicants’ vaccination status on resumes include computer and information technology, food and hospitality, retail, education, and healthcare.

Companies’ desire for vaccinated employees transcends work arrangement status, as well, ResumeBuilder’s survey shows. Hiring managers who work at businesses where employees work a hybrid schedule are the most likely to seek out vaccinated individuals, at 72%. Sixty-nine percent of surveyed hiring managers at companies that operate in-person prefer vaccinated employees, and 61% of remote hiring managers agree.

The survey was conducted on August 13, according to ResumeBuilder.com – nearly one month before President Joe Biden announced a series of stricter COVID vaccine requirements targeting both the public and private sector. The administration will require employers with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccines or weekly testing – a move slated to affect more than 80 million workers.

In spite of most companies’ strong preference for vaccinated employees, an applicant’s qualifications are still the most important factor, according to the survey, but only barely. Fifty-three percent of the hiring managers included said they are more likely to hire a better qualified candidate, even if they are not vaccinated, over a less qualified but vaccinated applicant.

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The Biden honeymoon is over, but there’s a reason his new approval lows aren’t cause for alarm – yet

US President Joe Biden convenes a virtual Covid-19 Summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, on September 22, 2021, in the South Court Auditorium of the White House in Washington, DC.
President Joe Biden.

  • President Joe Biden’s approval rating hit another new low, this time in Gallup’s survey at 43%.
  • The Delta variant and his handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal are the two biggest factors.
  • Historical data shows it’s too early for Democrats to fret just yet.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden hit another new low in an ongoing polling survey on Wednesday.

Biden’s approval rating is now at 43% according to Gallup, the same number he slipped to when he hit a record low in the NPR/Marist poll earlier in September. Just like the NPR/Marist survey, Biden has been losing ground among independent voters in Gallup’s version.

Vice President Kamala Harris fared slightly better, with her approval rating landing at 49%, according to Gallup.

Although Biden is down significantly from his 68% job approval rating coming out of the transition and into the beginning of his term – and has proven more vulnerable to dips resulting from exogenous events compared to former President Donald Trump – it’s still too early to jump to a conclusion about what this means for the 2022 midterms, much less the rest of his presidency.

Historically, a newly elected president’s party consistently loses seats in Congress in the midterm elections two years after the general. The average loss in the House – where every seat is up for reelection every two years – has been 25 seats since 1946, or an average of 37 for unpopular presidents, according to Gallup.

Even the generic ballot, which has proven to be the most reliable predictor of a party’s performance in the midterm elections, doesn’t tend to resemble the eventual results until a few months out from the election, as Nathaniel Rakich wrote last week in a FiveThirtyEight polling analysis.

Presidential approval has not had the same predictive weight to it when it comes to the midterms compared to a full presidential election, though there remains a loose correlation between the two.

U.S. House Net Seat Gain or Loss for President's Party, by Presidential Job Approval Rating Year	President/Party	% Job approval at midterm	Seat gain/loss for president's party 1998	Clinton/Dem	66	+5 2002	G.W. Bush/Rep	63	+6 1986	Reagan/Rep	63	-5 1962	Kennedy/Dem	61	-4 1954	Eisenhower/Rep	61	-18 1990	G.H.W. Bush/Rep	58	-8 1970	Nixon/Rep	58	-12 1958	Eisenhower/Rep	57	-47 1974	Ford/Rep	54	-43 1978	Carter/Dem	49	-11 1994	Clinton/Dem	46	-53 2010	Obama/Dem	45	-63 2014	Obama/Dem	44	-13 1966	Johnson/Dem	44	-47 1982	Reagan/Rep	42	-28 1950	Truman/Dem	39	-29 2006	G.W. Bush/Rep	38	-30 1946	Truman/Dem	33	-55
The more unpopular a president is, the worse their party tends to do in the midterm elections, though there are several notable exceptions.

In continuing surveys like Gallup and NPR/Marist, Biden’s approval has not budged that much with Democrats and Republicans. His biggest issue has been hemorrhaging support among independents for months.

Pollsters that ask about his handling of the pandemic have found a slide in that metric among independents, which tends to mirror his overall job approval rating with the same group.

In January, 61% of independent voters told Gallup they approved of Biden’s job performance. The latest poll has him all the way down to 37% among them.

With the Afghanistan withdrawal on top of that, Biden’s approval has reverted to Obama and Trump-era levels of polarization.

The Gallup summary of the latest poll put it bluntly.

“Biden’s latest approval rating further cements the fact that the honeymoon phase of his presidency is behind him,” Gallup’s Megan Brenan writes. “Political independents, who were part of the coalition that helped him defeat Trump in 2020, now largely disapprove of the job he is doing as president.”

However, after what has already been a topsy turvy year and-a-half since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be plenty more exogenous events that happen between now and Nov. 2022.

How Biden handles those and how he gets the country out of the Delta variant – along with whatever else the virus has in store for humanity – will weigh much more significantly among the public than his summer of 2021.

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