Sesame Street’s Big Bird gets vaccinated as Ted Cruz bristles: Live COVID-19 updates – USA TODAY

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“Sesame Street” puppet Big Bird announced his coronavirus vaccination on Twitter – and drew fire from conservatives such as Ted Cruz, who dismissed the vaccine pitch as “government propaganda.”

The iconic yellow bird appeared Saturday on CNN’s town hall “The ABCs of Covid Vaccines” with journalist Erica Hill. His grandmother, Granny Bird, revealed Big Bird would be receiving the vaccine. Big Bird is generally identified as being about 6 years old. Federal health officials recently granted emergency use authorization to Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for kids ages 5-11.

That night, Big Bird tweeted: “I got the COVID-19 vaccine today! My wing is feeling a little sore, but it’ll give my body an extra protective boost that keeps me and others healthy. Ms. @EricaRHill even said I’ve been getting vaccines since I was a little bird. I had no idea!”

Conservative social media personality Michael Cernovich tweeted a reply: “What’s the treatment for myocarditis in birds?” Myocarditis, heart inflammation, is a very rare side effect of the vaccine.

Cruz also responded on Twitter: “Government propaganda … for your 5 year old!” That drew a response from Walter Schaub, the former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, who pointed out to the Republican: “You are vaccinated.”

Plenty of commenters supported Big Bird’s decision. 

“Thank you for getting vaccinated,” tweeted Dr. Tom Nelson, an emergency room physician in Indiana.

Also in the news:

►Gov. Bill Lee extended Tennessee’s state of emergency for the coronavirus by two weeks while he continues to weigh new legislation. The General Assembly passed sweeping COVID-19 laws that include blocking local governments and school districts from mandating masks except for in the most dire circumstances.

► The University of New Mexico is disenrolling 256 students from classes for not complying with the university’s requirement for vaccination against COVID-19.

► Some cities are incentivizing kids to get vaccinated. Children in New York City are eligible for either $100 or tickets to city attractions if they receive their first dose of the vaccine. 

► COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise in Colorado, which has fewer than 100 ICU beds available, CNN reported.

?Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 45.9 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 745,700 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 246.5 million cases and 4.9 million deaths. More than 192.2 million Americans – 57.9% of the population – are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

? What we’re reading: Babies born to moms with COVID-19 when pregnant should be watched for long-term impacts, researchers say. Read more here. 

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox, and join our Facebook group.

Vaccine mandate for larger businesses temporarily halted by court

A federal appeals court on Saturday temporarily halted President Joe Biden’s vaccine requirement for businesses with 100 or more workers. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay of the requirement by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration that those workers be vaccinated by Jan. 4 or face mask requirements and weekly tests. Louisiana Attorney General Landry said the action stops Biden “from moving forward with his unlawful overreach.”

“The president will not impose medical procedures on the American people without the checks and balances afforded by the Constitution,” Landry said in a statement.

The administration says it is confident that the requirement, which includes penalties of nearly $14,000 per violation, will withstand legal challenges in part because OSHA safety rules preempt state laws.

More colleges are mandating the vaccine: These red-state colleges won’t mandate COVID shots for students – but they will for employees

Health group ends partnership with Aaron Rodgers

Prevea Health announced Saturday that it would no longer continue its partnership with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The announcement comes after Rodgers publicly made a series of misleading and false claims about COVID-19 during an appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show.” Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, and due to his unvaccinated status will not be able to get back on the field for a minimum of 10 days. According to a statement from the company, Rodgers has been a partner of Prevea Health since 2012 and has acted as a spokesperson and supported the organization’s initiatives throughout Wisconsin.

“Prevea Health remains deeply committed to protecting its patients, staff, providers and communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes encouraging and helping all eligible populations to become vaccinated against COVID-19 to prevent the virus from further significantly impacting lives and livelihoods,” the statement said.

– Kelli Arseneau, The Appleton Post-Crescent

Contributing: The Associated Press