COVID News: Pilots warned to keep vaccine talk out of cockpit, avoid distraction

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- Pilots at American and Southwest airlines are now being warned to keep vaccine mandate talk out of the cockpit.

The unions representing pilots sent a letter alerting them about an uptick in self-reports of distracted pilots to the FAA.

Airlines fall under federal contractors who must follow President Biden's vaccine mandate.

That's because they fly government employees and cargo and provide other services.

Here are more of today's COVID-19 headlines:



COVID has killed 5 times as many police officers as gunfire during pandemic
The coronavirus has become the leading cause of death for officers despite law enforcement being among the first groups eligible to receive the vaccine at the end of 2020. The total stands at 476 COVID-19 related deaths since the start of the pandemic, compared to 94 from gunfire in the same period.

New York City police and firefighter unions prepare to fight vaccine mandate
New York City's municipal unions are gearing up for a fight over Mayor Bill de Blasio's new vaccine mandate, which requires proof of at least one shot by October 29. The city says it will begin impact bargaining with affected unions immediately, but several have already vowed to battle it out in court.

"From the beginning of the de Blasio administration's haphazard vaccine rollout, we have fought to make the vaccine available to every member who chooses it, while also protecting their right to make that personal medical decision in consultation with their own doctor," PBA President Pat Lynch said. "Now that the city has moved to unilaterally impose a mandate, we will proceed with legal action to protect our members' rights."

The FDNY union is also threatening to shut down fire houses.

CDC expert panel takes up Moderna, J&J COVID-19 booster questions
Influential government advisers are deciding Thursday how best to expand the nation's COVID-19 booster campaign, including whether and when it's OK to "mix and match" brands for the extra dose. The advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are slated to discuss who should get extra doses of the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines - and the bigger question of getting a different brand for the booster than people's original vaccination. The Food and Drug Administration authorized both steps Wednesday, as part of a federal push to broaden booster access for the U.S. public. But the CDC, guided by its advisory panel, provides the final blessing.

Experts explain why lawsuits against COVID-19 vaccine mandates fail
From teachers to airlines workers, some employees who have faced termination for not complying with their company's COVID-19 vaccine mandates have gone to court to fight the decisions. Some of the plaintiffs, such as New York City Department of Education employees, a handful of Los Angeles county public employees and United Airlines workers, have argued that the mandates should be removed, questioning the rules' constitutionality and some contending their religious rights weren't observed. So far, these arguments have not swayed judges who have almost all ruled in favor of the employer, or not issued long injunctions while they hear the case. And legal experts tell ABC News they don't expect different outcomes in courtrooms anytime soon.

What to know about religious exemptions for COVID shots as vaccine mandates roll out
With COVID-19 vaccine mandates proliferating across the country in the public and private sectors as well as some school districts, the pushback from those unwilling or hesitant to get their shots is heating up. The vaccination effort has raised new questions about exemptions because mandates for adults are generally rare outside of settings like healthcare facilities and the military, and the inoculations are relatively new.

While there is no overall data yet on exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines, a number of companies and state governments have seen interest in religious exemptions -- a protection stemming from the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This leaves employers in the difficult and legally precarious position of determining whether the requests are valid. As such, some states have tried to do away with non-medical exemptions overall for their employees.

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