• Moderna says new study reveals what happens to COVID-19 immunity over time
    by Herb Scribner on September 17, 2021 at 1:00 am

    Syringes are filled with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Salt Lake County’s mass vaccination site at the Mountain America Expo Center in Sandy on Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. | Steve Griffin, Deseret NewsModerna said a new study should work as evidence for the need for booster vaccine shots Moderna said new data from a late-stage clinical trial shows there’s proof of waning COVID-19 vaccine immunity, suggesting COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are needed to stop severe illness from COVID-19. Does Moderna’s COVID vaccine stop severe COVID? According to Moderna, data show that the people who were vaccinated between December 2020 and March 2021 had 36% fewer COVID-19 “breakthrough” cases compared to those who were vaccinated during the initial trial for the vaccine, which ran from July 2020 to October 2020. There were 88 breakthrough cases out of 14,746 fully vaccinated people in the recent trial. But there were 162 COVID-19 breakthrough cases among 11,431 people from the original trial participants. Do you need a booster shot? Stephen Hoge, president at Moderna, said this is a sign that boosters are needed. Per Reuters, Hoge said the first six months are great, but you can’t count on that being stable out to a year and beyond.”Moderna’s new data comes as there’s an ongoing debate about the need for booster shots. The Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that the COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. offer significant protection against severe disease and death by COVID-19, and there isn’t a need for additional doses, per The Wall Street Journal. “Overall, data indicate that currently U.S.-licensed or authorized COVID-19 vaccines still afford protection against severe COVID-19 disease and death in the United States,” the FDA said, according to CNBC. However, the Biden administration has been calling for the need for additional COVID-19 booster shots, especially for those with underlying medical conditions and who are immunocompromised.

  • Photo of the day: New shoes give Girls on the Run participants a leg up
    by Deseret News Photographers on September 17, 2021 at 12:13 am

    Mountain View Elementary students participate in team running practice on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 at the school in Salt Lake City. The Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation donated 1,000 pairs of Asics running shoes to underserved girls participating in the Girls on the Run Utah character development program. | Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News A group of girls from Mountain View Elementary participating in the Girls on the Run Utah character development program on Thursday received a brand-new pair of Asics running shoes thanks to the Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation. “We are thrilled to support Girls on the Run Utah in its mission to inspire girls in our community to find joy in exercise and increased self-esteem as they learn to set and reach their goals,” Gail Miller, chairwoman of the Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation, said in a statement. The development program aims to inspire girls in third through eighth grade to be joyful, healthy and confident through a fun, experienced-based curriculum that creatively integrates running. “There has never been a more profound need for the resources, lessons and activities Girls on the Run provides,” Heidi Moreton, executive director of Girls on the Run Utah, said in a statement. “Social isolation and stressors related to COVID-19 have undoubtedly affected girls, which is why Girls on the Run Utah is passionately committed to helping girls reconnect with their classmates with a fun, positive program that inspires girls to get outside and move. Over half of our participants fall below the poverty line and thanks to community partners we can provide scholarships and new running shoes to hundreds of underserved girls each year.” Girls on the Run was founded by Molly Barker in 1996 in North Carolina. It now has local councils in all 50 states and has now served more than 2 million girls. In Utah, Girls on the Run began in 2007 with two schools and has served 15,000 girls. The hope is the new shoes will give girls the confidence and support to make healthy choices and to accomplish their goal of finishing the culminating 5K race event on Nov. 13 at Sugar House Park. In all, the Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation will donate 1,000 pairs of running shoes to underserved girls participating in the program.

  • Opinion: We support vaccines, but Biden’s mandate exceeds his authority
    by Stuart Adams on September 17, 2021 at 12:06 am

    President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room at the White House, on Sept. 9, 2021. Utah’s legislative leaders are urging the governor to reject Biden’s vaccine mandate for private businesses. | Andrew Harnik, Associated PressUtah’s legislative leaders believe Biden’s order is illegal, and they want Attorney General Sean Reyes to pursue possible legal action. Masked by the threat of the pandemic, President Joe Biden tried to slip one past us all late last week. It won’t work. The president’s unilateral decision to leverage American businesses by ordering them to mandate vaccinations of their employees as a condition of employment grossly exceeds his authority and ranks among the most egregious power grabs in American political history. As elected officials, we cannot turn a blind eye as Mr. Biden ignores the fundamental separation of powers and steamrolls individual liberty. Earlier this week, we jointly drafted a letter to Gov. Spencer Cox, urging him to reject the president’s order. We expressed our willingness to work with him to implement practical policies encouraging Utahns to choose vaccinations within the established bounds of the law. We have also requested that Attorney General Sean Reyes work with other states to pursue appropriate legal avenues to block President Biden’s mandate. While Utah businesses may implement vaccination requirements, it is wholly inappropriate for the federal government to mandate that they do so. Simply falling in line as any president — regardless of his political affiliation — places such undue burden on business would set a dangerous precedent and jeopardize civil liberties. Despite the many challenges the pandemic presents, the end does not justify the means. We strongly support the vaccination effort. The evidence clearly shows vaccines are the most effective weapon in our collective battle against COVID-19 and its variants. As we work to reduce the strain on our hospitals and healthcare personnel, reduce transmission, and save lives, we encourage all Utahns to carefully consider the benefits of vaccination with their trusted health care providers. However, we must let individuals and private businesses choose for themselves and assume responsibility for their individual actions. Some politicians hate to let a good crisis go to waste. Cloaking a power grab in an N-95 mask won’t hide the fact that the president is reaching beyond his prescribed authority. In doing so, he has exacerbated rifts in our nation and further divided the American people when we need unity. But that unity is only powerful when it comes within our system of government, not the one we left behind nearly 250 years ago. Stuart Adams is the president of the Utah Senate and Brad Wilson is the speaker of the Utah House of Representatives.

  • Why nearly half of states are threatening to sue President Joe Biden over the COVID-19 vaccination mandate for businesses
    by Dennis Romboy on September 16, 2021 at 11:30 pm

    Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes answers a question during a debate on Oct. 21, 2020. Reyes is among two dozen Republican attorneys general threatening to sue President Joe Biden if his proposed COVID-19 vaccination requirements for large companies takes effect. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News Calling President Joe Biden’s plan “disastrous,” Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes is among two dozen Republican attorneys general threatening to sue the president if his proposed vaccination mandate for large companies takes effect. The 24 attorneys general sent a seven-page letter to the president Thursday warning that a lawsuit will follow the implementation of the proposed requirement on private-sector employees to either get a COVID-19 shot, submit to weekly testing, or be fired. “I am committed to continuing leading with my colleagues to push back and fight this mandate all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary,” Reyes said in a statement. “Both employers and employees in Utah, with unprecedented fervor, have flooded my office with messages of dire concern and extreme opposition to the proposed mandate. I firmly agree.” On Tuesday, Eric Moutsos rallied opponents of the vaccine mandate on the Utah Revival Facebook page, posting, “PLEASE CALL SEAN REYES. He’s barely getting calls and he wants to sue Biden for the mandate but he needs to know there’s support.” Moutsos, who organized events to protest business closures during the pandemic, claimed in the post to the group’s more than 31,000 online members the “mandate is targeted to hamper our religious liberty, our freedom, our health independence, etc.,” and that a friend had been “told that only a few people have called the AG prior to the weekend.” Biden announced a six-point initiative last week to boost vaccinations, improve access to testing and make coronavirus treatments more widely available to slow the surge of COVID-19. Under the plan, companies with 100 or more employees would have to require their workers to be vaccinated or undergo at least weekly coronavirus testing. All federal workers also would be required to get the shot. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration in coming weeks plans to issue an emergency temporary standard implementing the new requirement, which will cover 80 million private-sector workers. Businesses that don’t comply could face fines of up to $14,000 per violation. “My message to unvaccinated Americans is this: What more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see?” Biden said last week. “We’ve made vaccinations free, safe and convenient. The vaccine is FDA-approved. Over 200 million Americans have gotten at least one shot. We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin.” Reyes said Biden’s proposed requirements are not only illegal but “offensive” on a number of levels, including that they violate constitutional separation of powers and reasonable notions of federalism, and vastly expand the “invasive” reach of federal agencies under the guise of emergency powers. In a statement last week, Reyes said Utah has taken a responsible approach to the pandemic and doesn’t need an “autocratic” mandate from the White House. Utah’s all-Republican congressional delegation also quickly condemned the president’s plan as unconstitutional, heavy-handed and arrogant. They also said it’s likely to backfire, creating more vaccine hesitancy and distrust of the federal government. The attorneys general say some workers will quit their jobs rather than comply, further straining an already tight labor market. “Your plan is disastrous and counterproductive,” they wrote. “From a policy perspective, this edict is unlikely to win hearts and minds — it will simply drive further skepticism.” But one major company has already acted on Biden’s mandate. Procter & Gamble, owner of some of the most recognized household brands in the world, announced vaccination requirements starting Nov. 1 for its more than 101,000 U.S.-based employees, citing Biden’s directive and its own approach to safety during the pandemic. P&G is requiring employees to provide proof of full vaccination, have a company-approved exemption in place or provide weekly, negative COVID-19 test results. Workers would have to arrange and pay for weekly testing on their own time. Members of the Utah Legislature’s Health and Human Services Interim Committee heard Wednesday from a group proposing legislation described as intended to keep businesses in the state from becoming “an enforcement arm of medical policy.” Kristen Chevrier, who has spoken out against COVID-19 vaccines and was appearing on behalf of a new organization, Utah Open for Business, testified that the group’s proposal “is not for or against vaccinations or other health interventions. It merely protects business owners from being coerced into bearing cost and responsibility, and it protects employee privacy.” The panel took no action after the presentation, although the committee chairman, Sen. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine, said he was open to further discussion. Several committee members sympathized with the sometimes boisterous and largely maskless crowd that overflowed into another room. Sen. Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi, said he believes Biden’s mandate is unconstitutional and will be overturned and acknowledged what he called the “pent-up frustration” in the room. “This is your forum to be able to vent,” Anderegg said, adding, “many of us are on your side.” Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, who, like Anderegg, said he has had COVID-19 and is vaccinated against the virus, was more blunt. “Nobody should make anybody get vaccinated,” he said, describing the decision whether to get the shots as a personal choice. “If you choose not to get vaccinated and you get sick and you die, that’s on you. That’s your call.” Reyes and his GOP colleagues contend Biden’s mandates are not tailored to real-world business approaches such as telecommuting and threaten jobs when the workforce is most vulnerable financially. “We call on President Biden to withdraw his proposed standards. Forcing them on the business community will be disastrous from a legal, policy, and financial standpoint and it will further divide America,” Reyes said. The attorneys general argue that history has shown that the courts are skeptical of the use of OSHA emergency temporary standards because of concerns about federalism and the separation of powers. Reyes said the president’s one-size-fits-almost-all approach makes it clear that he intends to use the OSHA law as a pretext to impose an unprecedented, controversial public health measure on a nationwide basis that only incidentally concerns the workplace. Utah was joined on the letter by the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

  • Does Utah have the goods to slow down vaunted San Diego State running game?
    by Jeff Call on September 16, 2021 at 11:17 pm

    San Diego State running back Greg Bell runs past BYU defensive lineman Bracken El-Bakri during game Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, in Provo, Utah. Bell, who gained 125 yards and scored a touchdown on 17 carries last week against Arizona, will be top of mind for the Utes on Saturday. | George Frey, Associated PressThe Aztecs say they ‘don’t buy into Power Five’ and there’s a reason why: Since 2016, SDSU has posted a 6-2 record against Pac-12 opponents As San Diego State hosts Utah this weekend, the Aztecs won’t be intimidated by the Utes’ membership in the Pac-12 or their Power Five label. Since 2016, SDSU has posted a 6-2 record against Pac-12 opponents, with wins over Cal, Stanford, UCLA, Arizona State (twice) and last week’s 38-14 thumping of Arizona in Tucson. The Aztecs will be looking to continue their success against the Pac-12 Saturday (5 p.m. MDT, CSBSN) when they take on the Utes at Dignity Health Sports Park. “We don’t buy into Power Five. We just try to hold on to our tradition,” said SDSU safety Cedarious Barfield. “What we want to do now is uphold that and be able to keep going and show future Aztecs that we can play with whoever we need to. Our motto is playing hard and physical.” Utah (1-1) wasn’t as physical as BYU in last week’s 26-17 loss in Provo. The Utes surrendered 219 rushing yards against the Cougars. SDSU (2-0) is a physical team that can run the ball. “They’re a run-heavy team. They ran the ball 55 times in one of their first two games. They’re much more committed to the run,” said coach Kyle Whittingham. “That’s what they hang their hat on. They have a whole stable of running backs that are outstanding. The line is physical. That is their No. 1 priority — to establish a run game. “It poses a big problem for us. It was impressive to watch that tape and see how they operate. They have three good backs and a quarterback that does a great job running that offense,” Whittingham continued. “They have a couple of tight ends they like and a couple of receivers that are playmakers. The offensive line is physical. We’re going to see every bit as physical of an offensive line as we did last week. We need to rise up and play much better.” Last week, SDSU running back Greg Bell, a Nebraska transfer, gained 125 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, while quarterback Jordan Brookshire completed 10 of 14 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns. “They have a great O-line. They’re really stout in the run game. They’re physical up front and they have a great group of running backs,” said Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd. “They have a lot of schemes. It’s going to be a challenge up front, in the trenches, but this game is going to come down to winning the line of scrimmage.” Utah linebackers coach Colton Swan is also impressed with San Diego State’s offense. “A really good, well-coached offense. A lot of different looks. Complications in the run and pass game. They try to do a bunch of things that are going to be hard on the linebackers,” he said. “They’re going to demand physical play from our defense. We’ve got to do a good job of stepping up and making sure we’re there for the challenge.” SDSU coach Brady Hoke has a lot of respect for Whittingham and the Utes. “The opponent speaks for themselves. They’re a physical football team. Kyle’s done a great job. We’ve got to get ready,” Hoke said. “Playing Utah when they were in the Mountain West, I always respected Kyle. He’s a defensive-minded guy. Watching their defense, their physicalness, you know you’re going to get from their front on both sides of the ball. “With (offensive coordinator Andy) Ludwig, he’s got some insight into what we do from a defensive perspective. It’s a ball game that we’ve got to be a little bit different in some ways. But we also have to do what we do best.” Against SDSU, the Wildcats converted just one of 13 third-down opportunities. Utah converted only two of nine against BYU. Despite his team’s strong start to the season, Hoke wants to see improvement this week. The Aztecs, for example, committed eight penalties against Arizona. “I told the team on Monday, ‘We’ve got to have some composure about us. We’ve got to have some discipline about us,’” he said. “We still need to play on the edge but don’t hurt the football team. … We’ve got a tough opponent. We have to play a heckuva lot better as a football team this week than we did last week.” SDSU is also wary of Utah quarterback Charlie Brewer. “He throws the ball well. … He does a great job. When you watch him set his feet and throw it, you can tell he has a lot of experience,” Hoke said. “He’s athletic enough to extend the pocket and make things happen. He’s got a strong arm. He’s got really good touch.” “They’re kind of like our team. They’ve very physical and they want to get after you. Charlie Brewer, we have a ton of respect for him, coming from Baylor,” Barfield said. “He’s a great quarterback. They’re going to try to attack us. We’ve got to stay together and trust each other.” Brewer knows that SDSU will be a challenge for Utah’s offense. “They’re really good. They play really good on defense,” Brewer said. “They beat Arizona pretty badly. We’re going to have to play a lot better than we did this past week.” The Utes will be looking to make sure the Aztecs’ run of success against the Pac-12 takes a detour Saturday.