COVID-19 vaccine verification requirements to be lifted in more states, cities
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With COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths falling around the U.S., more cities and states have moved to lift pandemic restrictions this week.
On Wednesday, officials in Los Angeles took steps to end requirements patrons to show proof of full vaccination at certain businesses.
The Los Angeles City Council ordered the city attorney to devise an ordinance that makes vaccine verification voluntary for indoor businesses, like bars and gyms.
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It also eliminates proof of vacation requirements for large outdoor events.
Proof of vaccination or a negative test will continue to be required to attend indoor “mega-events,” or gatherings with 1,000 or more attendees.
A final vote will be taken when the ordinance is introduced at a future council meeting, although there was no immediate indication of when that would occur.
Traveling up California’s Highway 1, San Francisco will stop requiring proof of vaccination to enter indoor businesses starting on Friday.
The San Francisco Department of Public Health said it will be up to businesses to choose whether to require proof of vaccination or a negative test from their staff and customers.
Like in LA, proof of vaccination will still be required to enter indoor “mega” events, in accordance with state guidelines.
“With cases and hospitalizations continuing to fall and our high vaccination rate providing a strong defense against the virus, San Francisco is ready to further reduce COVID-19 restrictions and allow individuals to make their own decisions to protect themselves and their loved ones,” San Francisco Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip said.
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The U.S. reported 37,595 new cases and 1,976 new deaths in the past day, according to data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
Since the winter omicron surge peaked, officials have announced the end to vaccine and mask mandates, with some lifting state public health emergency disaster declarations.
On Wednesday, a massive spending bill that initially included pandemic relief funding – which will rush $13.6 billion in aid to Ukraine – was approved by the House of Representatives after Democrats dropped COVID-19 spending.
The House planned to vote next week on a separate measure providing the full $15.6 billion for pandemic programs, without cutting state aid.
In Mississippi, another bill advanced Wednesday that allows for anyone in the state citing a “sincerely held religious objection” to avoid a public or private employer’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate.
Mississippi has one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the U.S.
The bill also specifies that COVID-19 vaccinations could not be required for children to attend school or day care, and that Mississippi government entities could not withhold services or refuse jobs to people who choose not to get vaccinated.
House Bill 1509 passed the Mississippi Senate 36-15 on Wednesday, with Republicans in favor and most Democrats opposed. One Democrat did not vote.
Because the Senate made changes, the bill will go to final negotiations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.