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COVID CHANGED US

By CHELLE CORDERO, Correspondent | October 01, 2021 | NEW YORK

Story No. 082521100

The whole country has changed, everything from PPE to vaccine mandates. We've seen overcrowded ERs, been warned about doing CPR in the field on suspected Covid patients, sometimes kept our distance from family members after shifts were over, and unfortunately saw more death than ever before.

Although our first responders and healthcare workers were often applauded as "Heros", all of 2020 and some of 2021 became a non-stop and emotionally painful year. Then came the vaccines and suddenly the numbers of cases were slowly falling in most states, and we thought maybe we could catch our breaths. Some were too hesitant to take the shots because they hadn't yet received full FDA approval even though they were approved for emergency use, and then some called themselves anti-vax'ers.

Rolling out the vaccines were slow, supply wasn't always there. Eventually numbers of Americans through the country did line up for their shots. Masks started coming off, restaurants opened, and families that hadn't seen their loved ones for a year or more were getting together again. The country started to come alive again, even though we had lost (as of Aug 2021) more than 600-thousand (confirmed Covid deaths) in America; in New York alone there were more than 60-thousand deaths (per NBC and state news reports).

Then we heard about the "variants", and Delta started making headlines, so did a minimal number of "breakthrough cases" (people who had received the vaccine but still caught Covid, USUALLY in a milder form). People were once again falling ill to the virus. People started wearing masks again, some stores put their "Masks Necessary" signs back up, and hospitals in some areas of the country are once again overcrowded.

The Mayor of New York City mandated that all NYC employees and public-school teachers and staff get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing and wear masks. On August 18 of this year, former Governor Cuomo mandated, "All healthcare workers in New York State must receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by September 27, 2021." (There are limited exceptions for those with religious or medical reasons which will be carefully assessed on a case-by-case basis). Throughout the country, government leaders and employers are making the same demand.

And throughout the country employees have threatened walkouts in protest. Approximately 170 employees of one hospital were suspended without pay when the administration demanded they get the vaccine — in the court case that followed the judge ruled that the hospital administration was within their rights to demand vaccinations. Since then both the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and OSHA guidelines have upheld the right of employers to mandate that employees are vaccinated; under OSHA guidelines, employers must furnish a work environment that is safe and free from known hazards and that includes Covid.

The three Covid-19 vaccines have been safely administered to almost 400-million Americans after strict clinical trials and under the FDA's Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). After several more trials, on August 23, 2021, the FDA announced that the Pfizer vaccine was OFFICIALLY APPROVED for use. Moderna filed for approval on June 1, 2021 and they are hoping to soon receive approval as well. Officials are hoping that those who were hesitant to get the vaccines will now be more willing to do so.

This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.