COVID-19 live updates: Florida governor prohibiting private employer vaccine mandates

(NEW YORK) — As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5.1 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 767,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

Just 68.9% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Nov 18, 12:27 pm
Florida governor signs legislation prohibiting private employer vaccine mandates

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday signed legislation that prohibits private employer vaccine mandates and says employers that violate the ruling will be fined.

The legislation also states educational institutions can’t require students to be vaccinated; school districts can’t have face mask policies or quarantine healthy students; and families can “sue violating school districts.”

“Nobody should lose their job due to heavy-handed COVID mandates,” DeSantis, a Republican, said in a statement.

Nov 18, 9:58 am
New York governor calls on workers to go back to the office

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is calling on workers to head back to the office in the new year.

“How about this New Year’s resolution: that in the days after New Year’s, that we say everybody back in the office. You can have a flex time, but we need you back, at least the majority of the week,” Hochul told industry leaders at the Association for a Better New York breakfast.

Hochul also said she would be in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

Times Square is reopening this New Year’s Eve after being closed last year due to the pandemic. Revelers must bring proof of full vaccination and a photo ID.

“I can’t wait to put 2020 – 2021 behind us,” the governor said.

ABC News’ Aaron Katersky

Nov 18, 9:17 am
Doctors stress importance of pediatric vaccinations, COVID ‘one of the top 10 leading causes of death in children’

COVID-19 “is one of the top ten leading causes of death in children” and vaccines are a “safe and simple intervention” to significantly lower the risk of severe illness, emergency physician Dr. Leana Wen and professor of health policy and management at GW said at a National Press Foundation briefing Wednesday.

Dr. Sean O’Leary, vice chair of the committee on infectious diseases for the American Academy of Pediatrics, said he believes that the fear surrounding the vaccine is largely based on misinformation.

Both doctors also pointed to the problem of access to vaccines, with many Americans in rural areas living in “pharmacy deserts.”

“We should not assume that these people don’t want the vaccine. A lot of it is access,” Leary said.

Officials need to hold clinics in places like schools, Wen added.

ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos

Nov 18, 4:38 am
Disney Cruise Line to require guests ages 5 and up be vaccinated

Disney Cruise Line said it will require all passengers ages 5 and up to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 starting next year.

Guests who are not vaccine-eligible because of their age will have to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result taken between three days and 24 hours their sail date.

“We are resuming sailing in a gradual, phased approach that emphasizes multiple layers of health and safety measures, considering guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other medical experts,” Disney Cruise Line said Wednesday in an updated policy on its website. “Under this guidance, we’ve reimagined your cruise experience so we all can enjoy the magic responsibly.”

The vaccine mandate will take effect Jan. 13 and will apply to sailings both in the United States and abroad.

Currently, passengers ages 12 and older as well as all crew members must be fully vaccinated, while unvaccinated guests ages 5 to 11 must take a pre-departure COVID-19 test.

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