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A U.S. Air Force service member preparing a dose of a coronavirus vaccine in Boston in February. Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

The Air Force said Wednesday that nearly 97% of its approximately 326,000 active duty service members have complied with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin's mandate and have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine before the branch's Nov. 2 deadline.

Why it matters: Around 8,500 active members missed the deadline. Many of them have filed for medical exemptions and religious accommodations, which are being reviewed by the department.

  • The department said its medical personnel vaccinated nearly 100,000 service members in just over two months

What they're saying: “Our Airmen need to be prepared to operate anytime, anywhere in the world,” Air Force chief of staff Gen. CQ Brown said in a statement.

  • “Getting vaccinated ensures we are a ready force to meet our commitments to the nation while protecting the health of our team and families," he added.

What's next: Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve members are required to receive at least one dose by Dec. 2.

Go deeper: Biden announces new strategy to reduce military and veteran suicides

Go deeper

Updated 20 hours ago - Health

2 federal judges temporarily block Biden vaccine mandates

President Biden delivers remarks on the Omicron COVID-19 variant at the White House on Nov. 29. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

The Biden administration was temporarily blocked from enforcing COVID-19 vaccine mandates for millions of workers by federal judges in two states on Tuesday.

The big picture: The orders, by federal judges in Kentucky and Louisiana, come one day after a federal judge in Missouri halted the mandate, which has a Jan. 4 deadline, in 10 states.

Omicron variant detected in more countries

The Galeao International airport in Rio de Janeiro, Brazi. Photo: Mauro Pimentel/AFP via Getty Images

Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and South Korea on Wednesday became the latest countries to report cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. They followed similar announcements made in Brazil and Japan on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The arrival of the "variant of concern" in more countries underscores the difficulties governments are facing as they seek to reopen economies stalled by nearly two years of pandemic restrictions in the era of global air travel.

UN report: Pandemic set to cost global tourism $2 trillion in 2021

A tourist in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Nov. 25. Photo:Chesnot/Getty Images

A new United Nations report warns that global tourism will see only modest revenue gains in 2021 after last year's historic losses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: Tourism revenues in 2020 fell by more than half from the previous year — a significant blow to the global economy, according to an analysis by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).