The Latest: Fauci dismayed by Texas’ move to ban mandates

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FILE – In this April 14, 2021, file photo, a Northwell Health nurses vaccinates Local 28 sheet metal workers with the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Elmont, N.Y. The latest federal figures released Saturday, Oct. 16 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show nearly two-thirds of New York residents are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, about 12.7 million of New York’s 20 million. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

WASHNGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci is saying Sunday that it is “really unfortunate” that Gov. Greg Abbott has moved to ban vaccine mandates in the state of Texas.

The nation’s leading infectious disease doctor, speaking on Fox News Sunday, said that the Republican governor’s decision to block businesses from requiring inoculations would damage public health since vaccines are the “most effective means” to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Fauci was largely encouraged by the downward trend of coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths across the nation and suggested that vaccinated individuals could have a normal holiday season with others who have received the shot. But he said that those who have not been vaccinated should continue to avoid gatherings and should wear a mask.

He also suggested that those who received a shot of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine would likely have flexibility to get a booster from either Moderna or Pfizer. The FDA advisory panel ruled last week that anyone 18 and up who had the J&J shot was eligible to get a booster.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— Robert Durst hospitalized with COVID-19 after murder verdict

— US cities, police unions clash as vaccine mandates take effect

— Protests greet start of Italy requiring COVID passes at workplaces

— Officials set stage for national campaign to vaccinate younger US children

— FDA panel endorses booster shot forJohnson & Johnson vaccine

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See all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

Russia is reporting its largest daily number of new coronavirus infections, more than 70% up on the number a month ago as the country faces a sustained rise in cases.

The national coronavirus task force on Sunday said 34,303 new infections were recorded in the previous day, compared with the 20,174 reported Sept. 19.

The death toll of 999 was barely lower than the record 1,002 deaths reported on Saturday.

Russian authorities have tried to speed up the pace of vaccinations with lotteries, bonuses and other incentives, but widespread vaccine skepticism and conflicting signals from officials stymied the efforts. The government said this week that about 43 million Russians, or some 29% of the country’s nearly 146 million people, are fully vaccinated.

Despite the mounting toll, the Kremlin has ruled out a new nationwide lockdown like the one early on in the pandemic that badly hurt the economy, eroding President Vladimir Putin’s popularity. Instead, it has delegated the power to enforce coronavirus restrictions to regional authorities.

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lankan authorities are allowing the reopening of cinemas and restaurants and also permitting wedding receptions as a part of the easing of COVID-19 related restrictions.

Cinemas will be open from next week, but with only 25% occupancy. Restaurants will be allowed to cater to a maximum 50 customers at a time. Wedding receptions are also permitted, but with a maximum of 50 guests.

Banks can accommodate only five clients at a time while gymnasiums can have a maximum of 10.

The government’s move to ease restrictions comes amid a sharp decline in COVID-19 cases and deaths over the past few weeks.

However, the government still continues with the ban on public gatherings while restrictions are imposed on public transport and trains are still halted.

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand health care workers administered a record number of vaccine jabs Saturday as the nation held a festival aimed at getting more people inoculated against the coronavirus.

Musicians, sports stars and celebrities pitched in for the “Vaxathon” event, which was broadcast on television and online for eight hours straight. By late afternoon, more than 120,000 people had gotten shots, eclipsing the daily record of 93,000 set in August.

A throwback to TV fundraising “telethon” events that were popular from the 1970s through the 1990s, it comes as New Zealand faces its biggest threat since the pandemic began, with an outbreak of the delta variant spreading through the largest city of Auckland and beyond.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who chatted with motorists at a drive-through vaccination center in Wellington, initially set a target of 100,000 jabs for the day but upped that to 150,000 after the first target was met.

She also set a target of 25,000 shots for Indigenous Maori, whose vaccination numbers have been lagging and who have been hit hard by the latest outbreak.

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