In our news wrap Friday, California announced the nation's first statewide COVID-19 vaccination mandate for schoolchildren. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh tested positive for COVID-19. The high court said he is fully vaccinated and shows no symptoms. The United Nations condemned Ethiopia today over its treatment of the rebel Tigray region, and warned that millions are facing famine.
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In the day's other news, drugmaker Merck reported that its experimental pill reduces COVID hospitalizations and deaths by 50 percent for those recently infected. The company plans to seek federal approval for the drug.
We will have more on the potential of this new treatment after the news summary.
California has announced the nation's first statewide COVID-19 vaccination mandate for schoolchildren. Governor Gavin Newsom said that it will be phased in seventh through 12 grades and then kindergarten through sixth as vaccines for different age groups win final FDA approval. Newsom said it is clear that vaccine mandates work.
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA):
I think the evidence is rather overwhelming. They're getting people vaccinated. They're actually ending this pandemic. And if that's the intention, to keep us healthy and safe and get our economy moving and get our kids back with all the benefits of the in person instruction, then all I say is, let's get this done and let's get others to follow suit.
Later, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor refused to block New York City's vaccine mandate for public school employees. It took effect this evening. The legal dispute continues in lower courts.
Also today, the high court said Justice Brett Kavanaugh has tested positive for COVID. He is fully vaccinated and shows no symptoms. The news came just ahead of the opening of the court's new term on Monday. Justices plan to hear arguments in person for the first time since the pandemic began.
The United Nations condemned Ethiopia today over its treatment of the rebel Tigray region and warned that millions are facing famine. The U.N.'s humanitarian office said civilians are in desperate need because the Ethiopian government is blocking food aid.
Jens Laerke, Spokesman, U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: It is critically important that the humanitarian operation continues. And it does. We have a very high number of people in very urgent need in Tigray. In fact, 5.2 million people there are in urgent need of assistance.
The world body has also charged that Ethiopia had no legal right to expel seven senior U.N. officials yesterday. The country's government accused the officials of meddling in its internal affairs.
Demonstrators in Iraq today marked two years since nationwide protests demanding political reform. Roughly 1,000 people marched in Baghdad. Many held photos of loved ones who were killed by security forces during the unrest. They also renewed calls for change ahead of parliamentary elections next week.
Back in this country, a federal judge in Texas is now considering whether to block the state's new abortion law. At a hearing in Austin today, the U.S. Justice Department argued for an injunction. The Texas law bans most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. It also lets private citizens enforce the ban by suing anyone who aids in an abortion.
On Wall Street, stocks opened October with gains, after slumping in September. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 482 points, 1.4 percent, to close at over 34000. The Nasdaq rose 118 points. The S&P 500 added 49.
And Jimmy Carter, the nation's oldest living ex-president, turned 97 today. He marked the occasion quietly at his home in Plains, Georgia. Mr. Carter survived cancer in 2015, and he and his wife, Rosalynn, celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary in July.