August 31, 2021

Around the nation: The Department of Education opens an investigation into 5 states over mask mandate bans

Daily Briefing

    The Department of Education is opening an investigation into five states over their bans on mask mandates in schools, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia, New York, and Virginia.

    • District of Columbia: The Department of Education on Monday announced it is opening investigations into five states that banned schools from implementing mask mandates, Axios reports. The department's Office for Civil Rights has sent letters to education chiefs in Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah. Suzanne Goldberg, the acting assistant secretary for civil rights, said that the investigation will determine whether the policies "may be preventing schools from meeting their legal obligations not to discriminate based on disability and from providing an equal educational opportunity to students with disabilities who are at heightened risk of severe illness from Covid-19." In addition, the department said it is not opening investigations into states where bans on mask mandates have either been halted by court rulings or are not being enforced, such as Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, and Texas, the New York Times reports. (Chen, Axios, 8/30; Green/Slotnik, New York Times, 8/30)
    • New York: The state's public health and health planning council last week approved emergency regulations removing religious exemptions from a Covid-19 vaccination mandate for hospital workers. The updated mandate applies to workers in hospitals, nursing homes, diagnostic and treatment centers, long-term home health care programs, and other health care settings. According to Becker's Hospital Review, staff at hospitals and nursing homes must receive at least one dose of a vaccine by Sept. 27, while workers at other affected entities must receive at least one dose by Oct. 7. "We look forwarding to continuing to work with our health care provider partners to achieve the goal of vaccinating all New Yorkers against Covid-19, including those dedicated staff responsible for caring for our sick and vulnerable," the New York State Health Department said. (Gooch, Becker's Hospital Review, 8/27)
    • Virginia: The United States has set up a Covid-19 vaccination site for Afghan evacuees arriving at Dulles International Airport, the Associated Press reports. According to Axios, all evacuees are tested for the coronavirus upon arrival at the airport. Those who test negative are offered the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and those who test positive are required to quarantine. Workers from the National Disaster Medical System are administrating the vaccines, and translators from the State Department are on hand to answer any vaccine-related questions. "This operation has been stood up in real time to ensure we are not wasting one minute and making sure everyone arriving in the United States is able to enter the country safely and not spread Covid-19," a White House official said. In addition, a second mass vaccination site for Afghan evacuees is expected to be set up at the Philadelphia International Airport, Axios reports. (Madhani, Associated Press, 8/27; Gonzalez, Axios, 8/27)
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