A Canadian judge has ordered protesters at the Ambassador Bridge over the U.S.-Canadian border to end a five-day-old blockade that has disrupted the flow of goods between the two countries.
The order from Chief Justice Geoffrey Morawetz of the Ontario Superior Court went into effect at 7 p.m. EST Friday, several hours after demonstrators began moving trucks to open a single lane after officials in the Canadian city of Windsor said they hoped to peacefully resolve the standoff over the country’s COVID-19 restrictions.
The news was met with defiance by protesters.
At the bridge, an unidentified person grabbed a microphone and addressed them, asking if they wanted to stay or leave. By a show of applause, it was agreed they would stay.
“OK,” the man said. “Let’s stand tall.” The protesters responded by singing the Canadian national anthem.
The crowd later grew in size and intensity, with flag-waving and frequent chants of “Freedom!” More patrol cars moved in around the site, and police handed out leaflets warning that a state of emergency would come into effect at midnight.
Looming is the threat of a similar protest reaching the Super Bowl this weekend in Los Angeles and, later, President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address next month in Washington, according to an internal Homeland Security memo issued to local and state law enforcement.
The convoy formed in Ottawa late last month to protest vaccine-related border mandates. Throughout the week, the group has been blocking the way off the bridge and are walking around the area, waving Canadian – and American – flags and interacting with police over barricades.
The Anderson Economic Group in Lansing calculated an initial estimate for lost direct wages in the Michigan auto industry at more than $51 million as a result of the protest beginning Monday.
Also in the news:
► Expectant mothers who contract the coronavirus are at risk of stillborn deliveries because COVID-19 can lead to placental failure, according to a new study that supports the CDC’s conclusion that the virus enhances the chances of adverse perinatal outcomes.
► California would mandate that all businesses require their employees and independent contractors to receive the COVID-19 vaccine under legislation announced Friday by Democratic state lawmakers that was immediately criticized by Republicans as government overreach.
► French President Emmanuel Macron refused to take a Russian COVID-19 test when meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin over fears the country would take his DNA, Reuters reported.
?Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 77.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 918,100 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 408 million cases and over 5.8 million deaths. More than 213 million Americans – 64.3% – are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
? What we’re reading: USA TODAY asked a dozen public health and infectious disease experts whether it makes sense for people to continue to wear masks and under what conditions. The answer, they say, depends on how much someone wants to avoid infection, the rate of COVID-19 where they live and who else is around them.
Immunocompromised people who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and then a second shot can now get a third two months later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.
The agency also changed its guidance on the timing of a fourth dose for people with compromised immune systems, such as after a transplant or during cancer treatment. Immunocompromised adults can now get a fourth shot just three months after their initial vaccinations, rather than five months later.
For the immunocompromised, the first two doses of Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine are considered the primary vaccine doses and a fourth dose is a booster. The new CDC guidance also specifies that if someone received two J&J shots and then a Moderna or two Moderna shots after a single J&J, one of their Moderna shots should be the 100-microgram dose, rather than the half-dose generally provided as a booster.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is given at the same dose for all adults and can be used as a second and/or third shot for the immunocompromised who initially received J&J, the CDC said.
The Food and Drug Administration on Friday granted emergency use authorization for a new monoclonal antibody from pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, a day after the Biden administration purchased 600,000 doses to address diminished COVID-19 treatment options.
The new monoclonal antibody, called bebtelovimab, will be shipped out to states free of charge, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “We are going to try to be there to meet the demand,” he said.
The government’s move comes after two leading monoclonal antibody treatments turned out to be ineffective against the omicron variant, which now accounts for nearly all COVID-19 cases in the U.S. Data indicate that the Lilly drug works against omicron, including the new BA.2 mutation.
Pfizer and BioNTech pushed the pause button Friday on the process of authorizing its COVID-19 vaccine for the youngest children.
The companies said in a press release that they want to wait until data becomes available on a third vaccine dose for children under 5, likely in early April.
They had originally said such data would become available in late March or early April and they would ask for vaccine authorization then. But under pressure from the Food and Drug Administration, the companies submitted their data and requested authorization for the first two doses, saying they could add a third in the future.
An FDA advisory committee was planned for Tuesday to consider the request, but has been canceled. No new date has been set.
Early results from the trial suggested that the vaccine was effective in the youngest children, but not in those ages 2 to 4, and the companies had said late last year that they expected a third dose of the 3-microgram vaccine would be needed to provide sufficient effectiveness to justify FDA authorization.
A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that the effectives of booster shots wanes after four months but protection against hospitalization and severe disease still remains strong.
The study, released Friday, includes data from the latest omicron surge of the virus and provides an early but limited look at booster shots’ performance over time.
Boosters provided better protection against visits to the ER and hospitalization than only two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, the study found. But the effectiveness against hospitalization in people who had received their booster two months earlier was 91% compared to 78% for those who had received it four months earlier. Effectiveness against an outpatient visit was 87% at two months and 66% at four months, the study found.
The study’s population of people who had been boosted for at least four months was fewer than 200 patients, and it’s possible those people had underlying conditions that made them more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19.
Contributing: Steve Kiggins and Josh Meyer, USA TODAY; Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press; The Associated Press