Tuesday's health stories

Apr 6, 2021 - Health

Gov. Greg Abbott bans use of vaccine passports in Texas

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaking in Austin in May 2020. Photo: Lynda M. Gonzalez-Pool/Getty Images

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order on Tuesday that bans state government and some private business from requiring coronavirus vaccine passports to access services.

Why it matters: Texas is the latest state to prohibit coronavirus immunization credentials as Republican governors rally against the proof of vaccination in the name of personal freedom and privacy. Such records could possibly speed international travel and economic reopening plans.

Apr 6, 2021 - Health

California to fully reopen economy June 15 if COVID rates remain stable

Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California will aim to fully reopen its economy on June 15 if COVID-19 hospitalizations remain low and vaccine supplies adequately cover people ages 16 and older, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: More people have died of the coronavirus in California than in any other state. Newsom has faced a growing recall effort in recent months as Californians have called on him to lift heavy-handed restrictions on businesses.

The "fashion mask" is here: Will.i.am launches high-tech face covering

Will.i.am wears the "Xupermask." Photo: Honeywell

Will.i.am, founder of the Black Eyed Peas, is launching a $299 mask — complete with noise cancellation headphones — with help from N95 manufacturer Honeywell.

Why it matters: The rapper and entrepreneur is betting people will splurge on a souped-up face covering as a fashion statement and for its wearable tech element, even as the pandemic eases and the pace of vaccinations pick up.

Biden sets new April 19 deadline for all adults to be eligible for vaccine

President Biden. Photo: Michael Reynolds/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden will announce Tuesday that he is moving up the deadline for states to make all American adults eligible for a coronavirus vaccine to April 19, CNN first reported and Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: The announcement means states will be pressured to make all Americans 16 years and older eligible for the vaccine two weeks earlier than the original May 1 deadline, reflecting a growing confidence in the U.S. vaccination campaign.

Apr 6, 2021 - Health

Health industry grapples with COVID vaccine mandates

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As coronavirus vaccines become less scarce, employers such as nursing homes and hospitals are debating whether to require their employees to be vaccinated, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: Health care workers often interact with the members of society most vulnerable to severe coronavirus infections, making a particularly strong case for vaccine mandates.

Axios-Ipsos poll: Parents split on vaccinating kids

Data: Axios/Ipsos Poll; Note: 3.3% margin of error; Chart: Axios Visuals

Just half of U.S. parents plan to get their children vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as they can, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: High vaccination rates are seen as a key to achieving herd immunity, but many parents don't want their kids to be the first in line once pediatric vaccinations become available.

Updated Apr 6, 2021 - World

New Zealand to open quarantine-free "travel bubble" with Australia

Australian Prime Minster Scott Morrison and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Sydney, Australia, in February last year. Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images

New Zealand will open a quarantine-free "travel bubble" with Australia from 11:59pm on April 18, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: New Zealand tourism industry official Chris Roberts and Michael Barnett, an NZ Chamber of Commerce director, told Axios the plan could serve as a model for other countries.

Apr 6, 2021 - World

North Korea first country to pull out of Olympics over COVID concerns

The Olympic Rings installation in Odaiba Marine Park, Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

North Korea's sports ministry announced Tuesday that it's decided to pull out of this summer's Tokyo Olympics "to protect athletes from the global health crisis caused by the coronavirus."

Why it matters: North Korea is the first country to withdraw its team from the Games because of pandemic concerns.

Apr 6, 2021 - Health

New Utah law requires fathers to pay half of pregnancy costs

Gov. Spencer Cox at Southern Utah University in March. Photo: Utah governor's office/Facebook

A new Utah law requires biological fathers to pay half of women's pregnancy expenses.

Why it matters: While states like New York and Wisconsin have similar financial provisions for pregnancies, "Utah appears to be the first state to mandate prenatal child support," AP notes.

Updated Apr 6, 2021 - Health

Montana governor tests positive for COVID

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte in Livingston in 2018. Photo: William Campbell-Corbis via Getty Images)

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) on Monday tested positive for COVID-19 after experiencing mild symptoms a day earlier, his office said in a statement.

The big picture: Gianforte will be isolating for 10 days as a precaution, his office added. He received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine last Thursday.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Apr 6, 2021 - World

Vaccinating Africa: Countries struggle to deliver the few shots they've got

Registering for a vaccine, in Thika, Kenya. Photo: Patrick Meinhardt/Bloomberg via Getty

The first shipment of long-awaited coronavirus vaccines finally arrived in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on March 3. One month later, they’re still sitting in a warehouse in the capital, Kinshasa.

Why it matters: Africa is at the back of the global line for vaccines, and most countries only expect enough doses to cover a fraction of their populations this year. But in some cases, even those limited supplies may not be fully deployed before they expire.