CDC announced that the federal mask mandate for public transportation will be extended until May 3, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from California, Georgia, and Illinois.
- California: The office of Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) last week announced that California's Covid-19 vaccine mandate for K-12 schoolchildren will not go into effect until at least July 1, 2023. The mandate was initially announced in October 2021, with the provision that it would into effect once FDA gave full approval for the Covid-19 vaccine. Although Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine has been authorized for emergency use for children as young as 5, final approval of the vaccine has been given only for its use in those ages 16 or older. In addition, school administrators have expressed concerns about having enough time to implement the vaccine mandate before the fall school term. "So based on these two facts—we don't have full FDA approval, and we recognize the implementation challenges that schools and school leaders would face—… we are not moving to have a vaccine requirement for schools in this coming academic year and no sooner than July 2023," said California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly. (Shapero, Axios, 4/14; Beam, Associated Press, 4/15)
- Georgia: CDC last week announced the federal mask mandate for public transportation, which was set to expire April 18, will be extended through May 3. According to Ashish Jha, the White House Covid-19 response coordinator, this additional time will allow CDC to monitor whether the omicron subvariant BA.2, which now makes up more than 85% of all new Covid-19 cases in the United States, will become a "ripple or a wave." In recent weeks, the United States has seen an increase in new Covid-19 cases, with an average of 31,000 new cases a day reported on April 12, up 8% from two weeks prior. This extension to the mask mandate comes as airlines and the hospitality industry have lobbied the Biden administration to remove the federal mask mandate, particularly as other masking requirements have been rescinded. "It is very difficult to understand why masks are still required on airplanes, but not needed in crowded bars and restaurants; in packed sports arenas; in schools full of children; or at large indoor political gatherings," said Nicholas Calio, president and CEO of industry trade group Airlines for America. "Simply put, an extension of the mask mandate does not make sense." (Doherty, Axios, 4/13; Murphy, New York Times, 4/13; AP/Modern Healthcare, 4/13)
- Illinois: Sinai Chicago last week announced Ngozi Ezike as its new president and CEO, making her the first Black woman to lead the organization. Ezike was also the first Black woman to be appointed director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, which she left in March. She previously worked for Cook County Health. "We are excited to bring a leader with such experience and passion as Dr. Ezike to Sinai Chicago," said Vincent Williams, chair of Sinai Chicago's board. "She is a strong, trusted and well-respected leader who has made a real difference in the lives of so many in the statewide response to the worst pandemic the world has seen in over a century." Ezike replaces Karen Teitelbaum and will begin her new role June 13. (Gooch, Becker's Hospital Review, 4/14)