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    China’s Vaccine Diplomacy Stumbles in Southeast Asia

    Several Southeast Asian nations are raising doubts about the efficacy of China’s vaccines. The Biden administration has recently offered to provide shots, “no strings attached.”SINGAPORE — The arrival of the Chinese vaccines was supposed to help stop the spread of the coronavirus in Southeast Asia.Instead, countries across the region are quickly turning elsewhere to look for shots.Residents in Thailand vaccinated with one dose of China’s Sinovac are now given the AstraZeneca shot three to four weeks later. In Indonesia, officials are administering the Moderna vaccine as a booster to health care workers who had received two doses of Sinovac.Malaysia’s health minister said the country would stop using Sinovac once its supply ran out. Even Cambodia, one of China’s strongest allies, has started using AstraZeneca as a booster for its frontline workers who had taken the Chinese vaccines.Few places benefited from China’s vaccine diplomacy as much as Southeast Asia, a region of more than 650 million that has struggled to secure doses from Western drugmakers. Several of these countries have recorded some of the fastest-growing number of cases in the world, underscoring the desperate need for inoculations.China, eager to build good will, stepped in, promising to provide more than 255 million doses, according to Bridge Consulting, a Beijing-based research company.Half a year in, however, that campaign has lost some of its luster. Officials in several countries have raised doubts about the efficacy of Chinese vaccines, especially against the more transmissible Delta variant. Indonesia, which was early to accept Chinese shots, was recently the epicenter of the virus. Others have complained about the conditions that accompanied Chinese donations or sales.The setback to China’s vaccine campaign has created a diplomatic opening for the United States when relations between the two countries are increasingly fraught, in part because of the coronavirus. China has criticized the American handling of the crisis at home and even claimed, with no evidence, that the pandemic originated in a military lab at Fort Detrick, Md., not in Wuhan, where the first cases emerged in late 2019.As more countries turn away from Chinese shots, vaccine aid from the United States offers an opportunity to restore relations in a region that American officials have mostly ignored for years while China extended its influence. The Biden administration has dispatched a crowd of senior officials, including Vice President Kamala Harris, who is scheduled to arrive on Sunday to visit Singapore and Vietnam. It has also, at last, made its own vaccine pledges to Southeast Asia, emphasizing that the American contribution of roughly 23 million shots as of this week comes with “no strings attached,” an implicit reference to China.Anti-China sentiment runs high in Vietnam, but the country accepted a donation of 500,000 doses of Sinopharm in June, causing a backlash among citizens who said they did not trust the quality of Chinese shots.Linh Pham/Getty ImagesSeveral countries in the region have been eager to receive the more effective, Western doses. Although they remain far outnumbered by Chinese shots, they present an attractive alternative. China’s “early head-start advantage has lost its magic already,” said Hoang Thi Ha, a researcher with the Asean Studies center of the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.For most of the year, many developing countries in Southeast Asia did not have much of a choice when it came to vaccines. They struggled to acquire doses, many of which were being made by richer nations that have been accused of hoarding them.China sought to fill those needs. The country’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, traveled through the region in January, promising to help fight the pandemic. In April, he declared that Southeast Asia was a priority for Beijing. About a third of the 33 million doses that China has distributed free worldwide were sent to the region, according to the figures provided by Bridge Consulting.Much of Beijing’s focus has been directed at the more populous countries, such as Indonesia and the Philippines, and its longstanding allies like Cambodia and Laos.Indonesia was China’s biggest customer in the region, buying 125 million doses from Sinovac. The Philippines obtained 25 million Sinovac shots after the president, Rodrigo Duterte, said he had turned to Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, for help. Cambodia received more than 2.2 million of China’s Sinopharm doses. It has inoculated roughly 41 percent of its population, achieving the second-highest vaccination rate in the region, after Singapore.Then, signs started emerging that the Chinese vaccines were not as effective as hoped. Indonesia found that 10 percent of its health care workers had become infected with Covid-19 as of July, despite being fully vaccinated with the Sinovac shot, according to the Indonesian Hospital Association.In July, a virologist at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok said a study of people who had received two doses of the Sinovac vaccine showed that their level of antibodies, 70 percent, was “barely efficacious” against the Alpha variant of the coronavirus, first detected in Britain, or against the Delta variant, first detected in India.The governments in both Indonesia and Thailand decided that they had to make a switch to other vaccines, like those provided by the United States, Britain and Russia.“Now that they have more choices, they can make other decisions,” said Nadège Rolland, senior fellow at the National Bureau of Asian Research in Washington. “I don’t think it’s politically motivated. I think it’s pragmatic.”Yaowares Wasuwat, a noodle seller in Thailand’s Bangsaen Chonburi Province, said that she hoped to get the AstraZeneca vaccine for her second shot after being inoculated with Sinovac, but that she would take whatever was available.“I have nothing to lose,” she said. “The economy is so bad, we are gasping for air. It’s like dying while living, so just take whatever protection we can.”Lloyd J. Austin III, the U.S. secretary of defense, met with President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila in July. The United States said it would deliver millions of doses of the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines to the country.Malacanang Presidential Photo/via ReutersChina’s early moves in the region stand in marked contrast with the United States, which was slow to provide assistance..css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-w739ur{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-w739ur{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-9s9ecg{margin-bottom:15px;}.css-16ed7iq{width:100%;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;-webkit-box-pack:center;-webkit-justify-content:center;-ms-flex-pack:center;justify-content:center;padding:10px 0;background-color:white;}.css-pmm6ed{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;}.css-pmm6ed > :not(:first-child){margin-left:5px;}.css-5gimkt{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:0.8125rem;font-weight:700;-webkit-letter-spacing:0.03em;-moz-letter-spacing:0.03em;-ms-letter-spacing:0.03em;letter-spacing:0.03em;text-transform:uppercase;color:#333;}.css-5gimkt:after{content:’Collapse’;}.css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transition:all 0.5s ease;transition:all 0.5s ease;-webkit-transform:rotate(180deg);-ms-transform:rotate(180deg);transform:rotate(180deg);}.css-eb027h{max-height:5000px;-webkit-transition:max-height 0.5s ease;transition:max-height 0.5s ease;}.css-6mllg9{-webkit-transition:all 0.5s ease;transition:all 0.5s ease;position:relative;opacity:0;}.css-6mllg9:before{content:”;background-image:linear-gradient(180deg,transparent,#ffffff);background-image:-webkit-linear-gradient(270deg,rgba(255,255,255,0),#ffffff);height:80px;width:100%;position:absolute;bottom:0px;pointer-events:none;}.css-uf1ume{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;}.css-wxi1cx{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-align-self:flex-end;-ms-flex-item-align:end;align-self:flex-end;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}The calculus has now changed under President Biden. Both Lloyd J. Austin III, the American secretary of defense, and Antony J. Blinken, the secretary of state, had meetings with top officials in Southeast Asia in recent weeks. They noted the donations of roughly 20 million shots.After Mr. Austin visited the Philippines, Manila restored a defense agreement that had been stuck in limbo for more than a year after Mr. Duterte threatened to terminate it. The agreement, which would continue to allow American troops and equipment to be moved in and out of the Philippines, could thwart China’s goal to push the American military out of the region.Part of the reason for Mr. Duterte’s turnaround: the delivery of millions of doses of Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines.Still, some Southeast Asian analysts have misgivings about Washington’s belated vaccine diplomacy.“The fact remains that the U.S. was really slow off the bat,” said Elina Noor, director of political-security affairs at the Asia Society Policy Institute. “And given that rich countries were hoarding vaccines when they became available, I think that sour taste still lingers.”China continues to be seen to be a reliable supplier for the vaccines it has produced. It has delivered 86 percent of the doses that it has promised to sell. And there remain concerns that the American companies have been slow to make deliveries. For those reasons, most Southeast Asian countries have not openly criticized China — and have not abandoned Chinese vaccines.Anti-China sentiment runs high in Vietnam, but the country accepted a donation of 500,000 doses of Sinopharm in June, causing a backlash among citizens who said they did not trust the quality of Chinese shots.“Even right in the middle of this emergency, I have no reason to trade my life or my family’s for a Chinese vaccine,” said Nguyen Hoang Vy, a manager for health care operations at a hospital in the city of Ho Chi Minh.It later emerged that the donated Sinopharm shots were meant for priority groups outlined by Beijing, deepening the cynicism toward China.“There are always some conditions attached,” said Huong Le Thu, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute who specializes in Southeast Asia, referring to China’s vaccine deals.Vietnam continues to battle an outbreak, and vaccines remain in short supply. Despite the earlier public anger, a private Vietnamese company acquired five million doses of Sinopharm for distribution, which local authorities began to administer this month.Muktita Suhartono More

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    Europe’s Pandemic Aid Is Winding Down. Is Now the Best Time?

    Governments want vaccinations and a business rebound to carry the economy now, but cutting aid too quickly could create economic aftershocks.PARIS — After almost 18 months of relying on expensive emergency aid programs to support their economies through the pandemic, governments across Europe are scaling back some of these measures, counting on burgeoning economic growth and the power of vaccines to carry the load from here.But the insurgent spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus has thrown a new variable into that calculation, prompting concerns about whether this is the time for scheduled rollbacks in financial assistance.The tension can be seen in France, where the number of virus cases has increased more than 200 percent from the average two weeks ago, prompting President Emmanuel Macron to try to push the French into getting vaccinated by threatening to make it harder to shop, dine or work if they don’t.At the same time, some pandemic aid in France — including generous state funding that prevented mass layoffs by subsidizing wages, and relief for some businesses struggling to pay their bills — is being reduced.A government panel recently urged “the greatest caution” about winding down emergency aid even further at the end of the summer.The eurozone economy has finally exited a double-dip recession, data last week showed, reversing the region’s worst downturn since World War II. European Union governments, which have spent nearly 2 trillion euros in pandemic aid and stimulus, have released nearly all businesses from lockdown restrictions, and the bloc is on target to fully vaccinate 70 percent of adults by autumn to help cement the rebound.But the obstacles to a full recovery in Europe remain large, prompting worries about terminating aid that has been extended repeatedly to limit unemployment and bankruptcies.“Governments have provided very generous support through the pandemic with positive results,” said Bert Colijn, senior eurozone economist at ING. “Cutting the aid short too quickly could create an aftershock that would have negative economic effects after they’ve done so much.”In Britain, the government has halted grants for businesses reopening after Covid-19 lockdowns, and will end a special unemployment benefit top-up by October. At least half of the 19 countries that use the euro have already sharply curtailed pandemic aid, and governments from Spain to Sweden plan to phase out billions of euros’ worth of subsidies more aggressively in autumn and through the end of the year.Germany recently allowed the expiration of a rule excusing firms from declaring bankruptcy if they can’t pay their bills. Debt repayment holidays for companies that took cheap government-backed loans will soon wind down in most eurozone economies.And after repeated extensions, state-backed job retention schemes, which have cost European Union countries over €540 billion, are set to end in September in Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden and Ireland, and become less generous in neighboring countries in all but the hard-hit tourism and hospitality sectors.Aid programs that helped cushion income losses for 60 million people at the height of the crisis continue to pay for millions of workers on standby. Businesses and the self-employed have access to billions in low-interest loans, state-funded grants and tax holidays.Meanwhile, employees have begun returning to offices, shops and factory floors. Global automakers are working to adapt to supply-chain issues. Small retailers are offering click-and-collect sales, and cafes are providing takeout service.Governments are betting that the growth momentum will be enough to wean their economies off life support.“We can’t use public money to make up for losses in the private sector forever,” said Guntram Wolff, the director of Bruegel, an economic research institution based in Brussels. “That’s why we need to find a strategy for exiting.”Governments are looking to reallocate more spending toward areas of the economy that promise future growth.“It’s crucial to shift spending towards sectors that will outlast the pandemic,” said Denis Ferrand, the director of Rexecode, a French economic research organization. “We need to accelerate a transformation in digitalization, energy and the environment.”But swaths of workers risk losing their jobs when the income support is withdrawn, especially in the hospitality and travel industries, which continue to operate at up to 70 percent below prepandemic levels. The transition is likely to be painful for many.Diners in London last week. The Bank of England expects about a quarter of a million people to lose their jobs when Britain’s furlough program ends next month.Tolga Akmen/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesIn Britain, a furlough program that has saved 12 million jobs since the start of the pandemic today keeps fewer than two million workers on standby support. But after the scheme ends in September, around a quarter of a million people are likely to lose their jobs, the Bank of England has forecast.“A significant fraction of people coming off furlough and not being rehired will find themselves facing very large drops of income,” said Tom Waters, a senior research economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London.Small businesses that wouldn’t have made it through the crisis without government assistance are now calculating how to stay on their feet without it..css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-w739ur{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-w739ur{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-9s9ecg{margin-bottom:15px;}.css-uf1ume{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;}.css-wxi1cx{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-align-self:flex-end;-ms-flex-item-align:end;align-self:flex-end;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}Fabien Meaudre, who runs an artisanal soap boutique in central Paris, got over €10,000 in grants and a state-backed loan that allowed him to stay afloat during and after the three national lockdowns imposed in France since the pandemic hit.Now that his store is reopened, business is starting to get back to normal. “But there are no tourists, and it’s very calm,” he said.“We are very grateful for the aid we received,” Mr. Meaudre added. “But we know we will have to pay this money back.”Mr. Macron, who promised to steer Europe’s second-largest economy through Covid “no matter the cost,” is leading other countries in trying to push for a tipping point where the lockdowns that required massive government support become less and less necessary.But the Delta variant is upending even the most carefully calibrated efforts to keep economies open.In the Netherlands, where half the population is fully inoculated, the government recently reinstated some Covid restrictions days after lifting them, after Delta cases spiked.Spain and Portugal have been reeling from hotel cancellations as the variant spread in vacation hot spots that desperately need an economic boost. The Greek party island of Mykonos even banned music temporarily to stop large gatherings, sending tourists fleeing and creating fresh misery for businesses counting on a recovery.Moviegoers in France must present a “health pass” to enter the theater, which an industry group says has reduced the number of moviegoers.Rafael Yaghobzadeh/Associated PressAnd in France, trade organizations representing cinemas and sports venues are worried that Mr. Macron’s new requirement that people carry a so-called health pass — proving vaccination, a negative test or a recent Covid recovery — to get into crowded spaces is already killing a budding recovery.Some big movie halls lost up to 90 percent of customers from one day to the next when the health pass requirement went into effect this week, said Marc-Olivier Sebbag, a representative for the National Federation of French Cinemas. “It’s a catastrophe,” he said.Such precariousness helps explain why some officials are wary of letting the support expire entirely, and economists say governments are likely to have to keep spending, albeit at lower levels, well beyond when they had hoped to wind down.Withdrawing aid is “totally justified if there’s a rapid recovery,” Benoît Coeuré, a former European Central Bank governor and head of the French government panel assessing pandemic spending, told journalists last week.“But there is still uncertainty, and if the rebound doesn’t come or if it’s weaker than expected,” he said, “we’ll need to pace the removal of support.”Jack Ewing More

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    Companies Begin to Mandate Covid Vaccines for Employees

    Tyson and Microsoft were the latest to require employees to be vaccinated. Other major employers have tried less sweeping approaches.Some of the nation’s largest employers, for months reluctant to wade into the fraught issue of whether Covid-19 vaccinations should be mandatory for workers, have in recent days been compelled to act as infections have surged again.On Tuesday, Tyson Foods told its 120,000 workers in offices, slaughterhouses and poultry plants across the country that they would need to be vaccinated by Nov. 1 as a “condition of employment.” And Microsoft, which employs roughly 100,000 people in the United States, said it would require proof of vaccination for all employees, vendors and guests to gain access to its offices.Last week, Google said it would require employees who returned to the company’s offices to be vaccinated, while Disney announced a mandate for all salaried and nonunion hourly workers who work on site.Other companies, including Walmart, the largest private employer in the United States, and Lyft and Uber, have taken a less forceful approach, mandating vaccines for white-collar workers but not for millions of frontline workers. Those moves essentially set up a divide between the employees who work in offices and employees who deal directly with the public and, collectively, have been more reluctant to get the shots.“We did not take this decision lightly,” Tyson’s chief executive, Donnie King, wrote in a memo to employees announcing the company’s full mandate. “We have spent months encouraging our team members to get vaccinated — today, under half of our team members are.”The moves brought praise from the White House.“I want to thank Walmart, Google, Netflix, Disney, Tyson Foods for their recent actions requiring vaccination for employees,” President Biden said in a press briefing on Tuesday. “Look, I know this isn’t easy — but I will have their backs.”“Others have declined to step up,” he said. “I find it disappointing.”Indeed, most other big employers have so far avoided mandates entirely. Amazon, the second-largest private employer in the country, has not announced any plans to require immunizations, nor has Apple or many of the biggest banks.“We are strongly working to get our employees vaccinated,” Amazon’s chief financial officer, Brian Olsavsky, said in a call with reporters last week, “and we hope everyone else gets vaccinated and this goes away.”Amazon has encouraged employees to get vaccinated but says it has no plans to mandate that they do.Ruth Fremson/The New York TimesThe coronavirus, however, shows no signs of going away. With vaccination rates stagnating in many parts of the country and the Delta variant surging, a new wave of infections is forcing businesses to act.“The rise of the Delta variant is on people’s minds,” said Douglas Brayley, an employment lawyer at Ropes & Gray. “I think they are looking around and seeing a greater number of employers start to mandate, and so they’re wondering whether they should reconsider as well.”But vaccine hesitancy remains an entrenched and emotionally charged issue inside many American workplaces.Many companies, already facing staffing shortages, are worried that requiring vaccines could give employees another reason to quit. At the same time, companies are struggling for new ways to encourage workers to get vaccinated after efforts like offering cash bonuses did not boost immunization rates quickly enough.Much of the remaining hesitancy to vaccines appears to be rooted in a complex mix of politics, cultural beliefs and misinformation that no cash payment or gift certificate from an employer can overcome.“The reason many workers are refusing the vaccine has been for political and ideological reasons,” said Stuart Appelbaum, the president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which represents workers in food factories in the Midwest, where vaccination rates are relatively low. “In places where we have the largest number of Trump supporters is where we are seeing a large number of vaccine resisters.”But many unions are wary of mandates for a different set of reasons that are not primarily political. They say many of their members are worried about potential health side effects or bristle at the idea of an employer’s interfering in what they regard as a personal health decision.Marc Perrone, the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, representing 1.3 million employees in grocery chains such as Kroger and at large meatpacking plants, said he would not support employer mandates until the Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to the vaccine, which is being administered on an emergency basis.“You can’t just say, ‘Accept the mandate or hit the door,’” Mr. Perrone said in an interview on Monday.After Tyson announced its vaccine mandate on Tuesday, Mr. Perrone issued a statement that the union “will be meeting with Tyson in the coming weeks to discuss this vaccine mandate and to ensure that the rights of these workers are protected and this policy is fairly implemented.”Tyson Foods will give its frontline employees until Nov. 1 to be fully inoculated.John Konstantaras/Associated PressAsked whether he supported vaccine mandates, Mr. Appelbaum said, “I am not prepared to answer that yet.” But he did say that companies needed to closely negotiate the terms of any such requirements with workers and that they also needed to expand benefits, such as paid sick time, for workers during the pandemic.Together, Mr. Perrone’s and Mr. Appelbaum’s unions represent more than 30,000 workers in Tyson plants, which complicates the meat company’s plans for a mandate.Tyson and others in the meatpacking industry were criticized during the pandemic’s early stages for not doing enough to protect workers as several meat plants became virus hot spots. Now, it is requiring its leadership team to be vaccinated by Sept. 24 and the rest of its office workers by Oct. 1. Frontline employees have until Nov. 1 to be fully inoculated, extra time the company is providing because there are “significantly more frontline team members than office workers who still need to be vaccinated,” a Tyson spokesman said.Throughout the pandemic, companies have treaded carefully in carrying out public health measures while trying to avoid harm to their businesses.Last year, when major retailers began requiring customers to wear masks, they quietly told their employees not to enforce the rule if a customer was adamant about not wearing one.Companies like Walmart have tried a similarly tentative approach with vaccine requirements.Walmart announced last week that it was requiring the roughly 17,000 workers in its Arkansas headquarters to be vaccinated but not those in stores and distribution centers, who make up the bulk of its 1.6 million U.S. employees.In a statement, the retailer said the limited mandate would send a message to all workers that they should get vaccinated.“We’re asking our leaders, which already have a higher vaccination rate, to make their example clear,” the company said. “We’re hoping that will influence even more of our frontline associates to become vaccinated.”Workers at Uber’s headquarters in San Francisco must be vaccinated, but its drivers do not have to be.Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesUber and Lyft told their corporate employees last week that they would need to show proof they had been inoculated before returning to company offices.Requiring vaccinations “is the most effective way to create a safe environment and give our team members peace of mind as we return to the office,” said Ashley Adams, a spokeswoman for Lyft.But those mandates did not extend to the workers the companies contract with to drive millions of customers to and from their destinations. The drivers are being encouraged to be vaccinated, but neither Lyft or Uber has plans to require them.Public health experts warn that limited mandates may reinforce the gaping divide between the nation’s high- and low-wage workers without furthering the public health goal of substantially increasing vaccination rates.They also say it’s naïve to think that workers who resisted vaccines for ideological reasons would suddenly change their mind after seeing a company’s higher-paid executives receive the shots.“Ultimately we want to ensure that they really have the broadest reach,” Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, the vice dean for population health and health equity at the University of California, San Francisco, said of company directives. “Failing to do that, I think, will only cause others to be more suspicious of these types of mandates.”Legally, companies are likely to be on solid ground if they mandate vaccines. Last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said employers could require immunization, though companies that do could still face lawsuits.George W. Ingham, a partner at the law firm Hogan Lovells, said companies with mandates would potentially have to make difficult decisions.“They are going to have to fire high performers and low performers who refuse vaccines,” he said. “They have to be consistent.” Reasons an employee could be exempted include religious beliefs or a disability, though the process of sorting those out on an individual basis promises to be an arduous one.Companies may also have to contend with pushback from state governments. Ten states have passed legislation limiting the ability to require vaccines for students, employees or the public, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.Disney is among the few big companies pursuing a broad vaccine mandate for their work forces, even in the face of pushback from some employees.Roughly 38,000 workers at Walt Disney World in Florida are unionized. The company’s vaccine mandate does not apply to them.Todd Anderson for The New York TimesIn addition to mandating vaccines for nonunion workers who are on-site, Disney said all new hires — union and nonunion — would be required to be fully vaccinated before starting their jobs. Nonunion hourly workers include theme park guest-relations staff, in-park photographers, executive assistants and some seasonal theme park employees.It was the furthest that Disney could go without a sign-off from the dozen unions that represent the bulk of its employees. Walt Disney World in Florida, for instance, has more than 65,000 workers; roughly 38,000 are union members.Disney is now seeking union approval for the mandate both in Florida and in California, where tens of thousands of workers at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim are unionized. Most of the leaders of Disney’s unions appear to be in favor of a mandate — as long as accommodations can be worked out for those refusing the vaccine for medical, religious or other acceptable reasons.“Vaccinations are safe and effective and the best line of defense to protect workers, frontline or otherwise,” Eric Clinton, the president of UNITE HERE Local 362, which represents roughly 8,000 attraction workers and custodians at Disney World, said in a phone interview.Mr. Clinton declined to comment on any pushback from his membership, but another union leader at Disney World, speaking on the condition of anonymity so he could speak candidly, said “a fair number” of his members were up in arms over Disney-mandated vaccinations, citing personal choice and fear of the vaccine.“The company has probably done a calculation and decided that some people will unfortunately quit rather than protect themselves, and so be it,” the person said.Lananh Nguyen More

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    Covid Variant Adds to Worker Anxieties

    Some see an undue rush by employers to get workplaces back to normal, whether by dropping precautions or imposing new rules.When Kelly Harris, a personal grocery shopper in Steubenville, Ohio, was vaccinated in March against Covid-19, it was a huge relief. “I felt the weight of the world off my shoulders,” she said.Her sense of relief has turned to dread. After most supermarkets eased masking requirements in May, mask wearing plummeted in her area. She worried about bringing the virus home to her school-age children.Then, as the Delta variant proliferated in recent weeks, her anxiety levels spiked again. “I try to stay away from everybody and use self-checkout,” she said. “It has me pretty stressed out.”Judging from the policies of the stores Ms. Harris frequents, many employers appear to regard the recent increase in Covid infections as a mere blip on the long-awaited road to normal.Some companies have intensified their efforts to return to a pandemic before-times, easing safety protocols while expecting employees to return to previous routines.But for many workers, the perception is quite different: a sense of rising vulnerability and frustration even for the vaccinated, who find themselves inundated with stories of breakthrough infections and long Covid.The gulf between employers’ actions and workers’ concerns appears to foreshadow a period of rising tensions between the two, and unions appear to be positioning themselves for it. Some unions are calling on companies to do more to keep members safe, while others are questioning new vaccination requirements. The two positions may seem at odds, but they send a common message: Not so fast.“I think we’re rushing to return to normal,” said Marc Perrone, the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers, which has over one million members in industries like groceries and meatpacking.Many workers complain about a mismatch between plans their employers appear to have made before the rise of the variant and the reality of the past few weeks.For much of the pandemic, Amazon has offered free on-site Covid testing for employees. It incorporated a variety of design features into warehouses to promote social distancing. But a worker at an Amazon warehouse in Oregon, who did not want to be named for fear of retribution, said there had been a gradual reduction in safety features, like the removal of physical barriers to enforce social distancing.Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokeswoman, said that the company had removed barriers in some parts of warehouses where workers don’t spend much time in proximity, but that it had kept up distancing measures in other areas, like break rooms.“We’re continuously evaluating the temporary measures we implemented in response to Covid-19 and making adjustments in alignment with public health authority guidance,” Ms. Nantel said. She added that the company would “begin ramping down our U.S. testing operations by July 30, 2021.”At REI, the outdoor equipment and apparel retailer, four workers in different parts of the country, who asked not to be named for fear of workplace repercussions, complained that the company had recently enacted a potentially more punitive attendance policy it had planned to put in place just before the pandemic. Under the policy, part-time workers who use more than their allotted sick days are subject to discipline up to termination if the absences are unexcused. The workers also said they were concerned that many stores — after restricting capacity until this spring — had become more and more crowded.Halley Knigge, a spokeswoman for REI, said that under its new policies the company allowed part-time workers to accrue sick leave for the first time and that the disciplinary policy was not substantively new but merely reworded. The stores, she added, continue to restrict occupancy to no more than 50 percent capacity, as they have since June 2020.Workers elsewhere in the retail industry also complained about the growing crowds and difficulty of distancing inside stores like supermarkets. Karyn Johnson-Dorsey, a personal shopper from Riverside, Calif., who finds work on Instacart but also has her own roster of clients, said it had been increasingly difficult to maintain a safe distance from unmasked customers since the state eased masking and capacity restrictions in mid-June.“You have whole families who are picking out a pound of ground beef,” she said. “Children who are not vaccinated because of age are touching everything, not masked, either.”Amazon’s warehouse on Staten Island. Workers at Amazon have become concerned in recent weeks that the company is overly eager to wind down safety measures.Chang W. Lee/The New York TimesMs. Johnson-Dorsey, who had Covid last year and was vaccinated in March, said that what she was encountering in stores had become a major source of worry as the Delta variant spread. “I think it’s just showing that maybe we jumped too quickly to try and beat this imaginary deadline,” she said.On Tuesday, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided new guidance on masking, some employers said they would adjust their policies as warranted.“We’d always defer to state and local ordinances on capacity and masking mandates,” said a spokeswoman for Albertsons, which also owns Safeway and Jewel-Osco. “We don’t have a national mandate on capacity at this time.”Ms. Harris and Ms. Johnson-Dorsey, the personal shoppers, do not belong to a union, but Bob O’Toole, the president of the food workers local in Chicago, which represents more than 15,000 workers in the grocery, meatpacking and food-processing industries, said many of his members shared their sentiments.“The employees don’t feel as though the employers are doing anything to enhance safety after so many precautions were relaxed,” he wrote in a text message..css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-w739ur{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-w739ur{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-9s9ecg{margin-bottom:15px;}.css-uf1ume{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;}.css-wxi1cx{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-align-self:flex-end;-ms-flex-item-align:end;align-self:flex-end;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}Mr. Perrone, the international president for the food workers union, said in a statement on Tuesday that the new C.D.C. guidance wasn’t sufficient and urged a national mask mandate.Public-sector workers, too, have expressed safety concerns as officials move to get government services back to prepandemic norms. In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently brought back office-based city employees who had been working remotely during the pandemic.But one of the unions representing them, the Illinois council of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, has argued that more needs to be done to space workers apart and improve ventilation.“The workplaces where those people work could be sources of transmission because we live in a cubicle world where people are often very close together,” said Roberta Lynch, the union’s executive director in the state. “We want to ensure that people who have high-risk work locations are able to work safely.”A spokeswoman for the mayor did not respond to a request for comment.The Office and Professional Employees International Union, which represents nurses who are increasingly subject to vaccine requirements around the country, is unlikely to take a position on the mandates per se but will seek to have a voice in setting policy to guarantee that employees are treated fairly, said Sandy Pope, its bargaining director. For example, the union wants to ensure that no workers are disciplined or fired for refusing the vaccine if they have legitimate reasons for doing so.“We will demand to be consulted on these things,” Ms. Pope said. “I know a couple of members who have legitimate health issues that have prevented them from being vaccinated.”The union, which also represents clerical workers at insurance companies, credit unions and universities, has employee-management committees pushing to arrange adequate ventilation systems for workers, with mixed results, she said. She added that the union was preparing for a potential standoff in September, when many employers have said they will end hybrid work arrangements and require full-time attendance.“I think that’s going to be the big fight,” Ms. Pope said. “A number of employers had September as the target date.”The Culinary Workers Union, which represents casino workers in Las Vegas, has been calling for the return of a mask requirement for all customers indoors since Nevada relaxed the rule in May.John Locher/Associated PressBy contrast, the United Automobile Workers union said it was working with major automakers through a Covid task force to help make safety decisions. General Motors and Ford Motor both recently reinstituted masking for all employees at separate sites in Missouri, and Ford reinstituted masking at offices in Florida, after the companies assessed virus-related data in those regions. And a number of employers, including Amazon and the meat processor JBS, have had vaccination facilities for workers on site.Some unions may have been spared a fight by the C.D.C.’s move on Tuesday. In Las Vegas, the Culinary Workers Union, which represents casino workers, has been calling for the return of a mask requirement for all customers indoors since Nevada relaxed the requirement in May. The casinos had not heeded the call, but after the C.D.C. announcement, the state said it would reimpose an indoor mask mandate.In other cases, a reckoning still looms. The federal government’s mask mandate on airplanes is set to expire after Sept. 13, and unions representing airplane personnel are uneasy about the possibility that it will lapse, though Tuesday’s C.D.C. announcement suggests it may be more likely to be extended. The unions have applauded the airlines for moving to stop the spread of the coronavirus on airplanes by installing more sophisticated air filtration systems, but maintain that they are not sufficient.“Filtration is helpful for circulated air in the cabin,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants. “But it doesn’t stop the general spread from one person to another sitting six inches apart.” More

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    I.M.F. World Economic Outlook Forecasts 6 Percent Global Growth

    The International Monetary Fund warned on Tuesday that the gap between rich and poor countries was widening amid the pandemic, with low vaccination rates in emerging economies leading to a lopsided global recovery.The I.M.F. maintained its 2021 global growth forecast of 6 percent in its latest World Economic Outlook report, largely because advanced economies, including the United States, expect slightly faster growth than the global body previously forecast. Economic growth in developing countries is expected to be more sluggish, and the global body said the spread of more contagious variants of the virus posed a threat to the recovery. It called on nations to work together to accelerate the protection of their citizens.“Multilateral action is needed to ensure rapid, worldwide access to vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics,” Gita Gopinath, the I.M.F.’s chief economist, wrote in the report. “This would save countless lives, prevent new variants from emerging and add trillions of dollars to global economic growth.”The I.M.F. projected that the U.S. economy will expand 7 percent in 2021. The euro area was projected to expand 4.6 percent and Japan 2.8 percent. Rapid expansion was expected for China, at 8.1 percent, and India, 9.5 percent, but both of their outlooks have been downgraded since April. The outlook in China was lowered because of a scaling back of public investment, while India was downgraded because of a severe second wave of the virus slowing the recovery.The global expansion in 2022 was projected to be stronger than previously forecast, with growth of 4.9 percent. That, too, will be led by advanced economies, the I.M.F. predicted.More than a year after the coronavirus emerged, economic fortunes are closely tied to how successfully governments have been at providing fiscal support and acquiring and deploying vaccines. The I.M.F. said about 40 percent of the population in advanced economies had been fully vaccinated, while that figure is just 11 percent or less in emerging markets and low-income developing economies. Varying levels of financial support from governments are also amplifying the divergence in economic fortunes.The I.M.F.’s executive board announced this month that it had approved a plan to issue $650 billion worth of reserve funds that countries could use to buy vaccines, finance health care and pay down debt. If finalized in August, as expected, the funds should provide additional support to countries that have been lagging behind in combating the health crisis.Concerns about price increases have grabbed headlines in the United States and elsewhere, but the I.M.F. said it continued to believe that the recent bout of inflation was “transitory.” The organization noted that jobless rates remained below their prepandemic levels and that long-term inflation expectations remained “well anchored.” Ms. Gopinath said that predicting the path of inflation was subject to much uncertainty because of the unique nature of the economic shock that the world had faced.“More persistent supply disruptions and sharply rising housing prices are some of the factors that could lead to persistently high inflation,” Ms. Gopinath said.As the Federal Reserve prepared to meet on Tuesday and Wednesday, she advised central banks to be nimble in setting monetary policy and urged them not to raise interest rates too soon.“Central banks should avoid prematurely tightening policies when faced with transitory inflation pressures but should be prepared to move quickly if inflation expectations show signs of de-anchoring,” Ms. Gopinath added.During a press briefing on Tuesday, I.M.F. officials said they had been observing how supply shortages were depressing manufacturing activity and hurting sectors such as the automobile industry.While the I.M.F. expects inflation in the United States to remain high this year and normalize by next year, it is looking for signs that rising prices could “de-anchor” from the Fed’s 2 percent target. That will become clear, it said, if medium-term inflation expectations begin to rise and if higher prices become locked into wages and business contracts. Officials are also watching to see if the recent sharp increase in house prices continues to lead to higher rents, which would lift the inflation outlook.Mutations of the virus remain the most daunting challenge facing the global economy. The I.M.F. projected that highly infectious variants, if they emerged, could derail the recovery and wipe out $4.5 trillion in gross domestic product by 2025.The brunt of that pain would most likely be felt in the poorest parts of the world, which have been hardest hit by the initial waves of the pandemic.“It was already diverging, and that has exacerbated in this period,” Ms. Gopinath said of global inequality. “It is a reflection of some very big fault lines that are growing.” More

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    Delays, More Masks and Mandatory Shots: Virus Surge Disrupts Office-Return Plans

    A wave of the contagious Delta variant is causing companies to reconsider when they will require employees to return, and what health requirements should be in place when they do.Several hospital systems that previously held off making vaccines mandatory for health care workers are now willing to do so. Google employees in California who have voluntarily returned to the office are again wearing masks indoors. Goldman Sachs is considering whether to reinstitute testing for fully vaccinated employees in the company’s New York City offices, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because nothing had been decided. And on Monday, Apple told its work force that it would push back its return-to-office date from September to October.When companies began announcing tentative return-to-office plans this spring, there was a sense of optimism behind the messages. Covid cases were dwindling in the United States as the vaccine rollout picked up pace. Employers largely hoped their workers would get shots on their own, motivated by raffle tickets, paid time off and other perks, if not by the consensus of the medical community.In recent days, that tone has suddenly shifted. The Delta variant, a more contagious version of the coronavirus, is sweeping through the country. Fewer than half of Americans are fully vaccinated, exacerbating the situation. Nationally, the daily average of new coronavirus infections surged 180 percent in 14 days to 45,343 by Thursday, and deaths — a lagging number — are up 30 percent from two weeks ago, to nearly 252, according to New York Times case counts. Vaccines are still unavailable for children under 12, many of whom are preparing for an in-person return to school this fall.America’s business leaders are being forced to decide whether to reverse reopening plans or to mandate vaccinations.George Etheredge for The New York TimesIt all adds up to a difficult calculation for America’s business leaders, who hoped the country would already be fully on a path to normalcy, with employees getting back to offices. Instead, individual companies are now being forced to make tough decisions that they had hoped could be avoided, such as whether to reverse reopening plans or institute vaccine mandates for employees. All the while, they continue to grapple with the unpredictable nature of the pandemic.“It’s emotionally draining on all of us, and it drives the top management teams crazy,” said Bob Sutton, a psychology professor at Stanford University who studies leadership and organizations. He said some executives he had advised were “pulling their hair out” over what to do.For employers wary of the legal ramifications and political backlash of mandating a vaccine, the tide has begun to turn, if ever so slightly.“At the beginning, there were a lot of employers that were concerned about jumping in too soon and being the one out front — it is a divisive issue,” said David Barron, a labor and employment lawyer at the law firm Cozen O’Connor. “The calculus starts to shift a little bit when you see another spike.”Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York on Friday encouraged private employers to require workers to get vaccinated. He also said the city might broaden the number of city workers required to get vaccinated or to be tested weekly.Recent court decisions have upheld employers’ rights to require vaccinations, including a ruling that said Houston Methodist Hospital could require health care workers to get shots. On Monday, a federal judge ruled that Indiana University could require students to be vaccinated as well.At a vaccination center in New York. Vaccine mandates are still far from the dominant approach that executives are taking.Kevin Hagen for The New York Times“The legal authority continues to line up on the side of employers being allowed to mandate vaccines if they choose to,” said Douglas Brayley, an employment lawyer at the global law firm Ropes & Gray.When Twitter reopened its San Francisco office this month at 50 percent capacity for those who wanted to go back, only vaccinated workers were allowed inside. In June, a civilian group that oversees the Los Angeles Police Department was examining the possibility of requiring police officers to get shots. And numerous colleges have required students and staff to be fully inoculated before they step foot on campus in the fall.“The recent news of Delta surging in some places is just adding to that determination to be as safe as we possibly can,” said Tim Killeen, the president of the University of Illinois System, which instituted a vaccine requirement Wednesday.Novant Health, a North Carolina-based health care company with more than 35,000 employees, said Thursday that it would make vaccinations mandatory for its workers by Sept. 15. Its efforts to overcome vaccine hesitancy through education and making shots easily accessible had stagnated.“Now that almost four billion doses of vaccine have been given around the world, and we see that it’s safe and effective, we see that the Delta variant is obviously here, and we have it in our communities, and that almost all the patients being added to our hospitals are unvaccinated, the time was right to say, ‘We’ve got to move forward with requiring vaccines of our team members,’” Dr. David Priest, the company’s chief safety officer, said.For others, high voluntary vaccination rates among employees have made requiring the shot simpler. Morgan Stanley, the investment banking firm, is requiring employees and guests at its New York offices to be fully vaccinated, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss company protocols. By the time it imposed the mandate in June, 90 percent of its employees were vaccinated.Vaccine mandates are still not the approach that most companies are taking. And the risk that the coronavirus poses to much of the population is far from what it was at the worst of the pandemic. New cases, hospitalizations and deaths remain at a small fraction of their previous peaks, largely localized to areas with low vaccination rates. Vaccines remain effective against the worst outcomes of Covid-19, including from the Delta variant.“The big question is not so much ‘Can we keep workers safe in our buildings?’ but ‘Will workers feel comfortable enough coming back, even if good controls are in place?’” said Joseph Allen, an associate professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health who advises companies on Covid-19 strategies. “There’s a renewed anxiety that maybe started to dissipate in the spring — but it’s back.”When Twitter reopened its San Francisco office at half capacity for those who wanted to return, only vaccinated workers were allowed inside.Cayce Clifford for The New York TimesThat tension may make it more difficult to persuade workers to return to the office. In California’s Silicon Valley, tech companies largely embraced the new era of remote work during the pandemic. But not all have been eager to let their employees stay home for good..css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-w739ur{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-w739ur{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-9s9ecg{margin-bottom:15px;}.css-uf1ume{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;}.css-wxi1cx{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-align-self:flex-end;-ms-flex-item-align:end;align-self:flex-end;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}In June, Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, told employees that they would be required to return to the office at least three days a week, starting in September. About 1,800 employees sent Mr. Cook a letter calling for a more flexible approach.He did not respond, but days later Apple posted an internal video in which company executives doubled down on bringing workers back to the office. In the video, Dr. Sumbul Desai, who helps run Apple’s digital health division, encouraged workers to get vaccinated but stopped short of saying they would be required to, according to a transcript viewed by The Times.The video didn’t sit well with some employees.“OK, you want me to put my life on the line to come back to the office, which will also decrease my productivity, and you’re not giving me any logic on why I actually need to do that?” said Ashley Gjovik, a senior engineering program manager.When the company delayed its return-to-office date on Monday, a group of employees drafted a new letter, proposing a one-year pilot program in which people could work from home full time if they chose to. The letter said an informal survey of more than 1,000 Apple employees found that roughly two-thirds would question their future at the company if they were required to return to the office. In Los Angeles, Endeavor, the parent company of the William Morris Endeavor talent agency, reopened its Beverly Hills headquarters this month. But it decided to shut down again last week when the county reimposed its indoor mask mandate in the face of surging case counts. An Endeavor spokesman said the company had decided that enforcement would be too difficult and would hinder group meetings.The employment website Indeed had been targeting Sept. 7 as the date when it would start bringing workers back on a hybrid basis. Now it has begun to reconsider those plans, the company’s senior vice president of human resources, Paul Wolfe, said, “because of the Delta variant.”Some companies said the recent spike in cases had not yet affected their return-to-office planning. Facebook still intends to reopen at 50 percent capacity by early September. IBM plans to open its U.S. offices in early September, with fully vaccinated employees free to go without a mask, and Royal Dutch Shell, the gas company, has been gradually lifting restrictions in its Houston offices, prompting more of its workers to return.Hewlett Packard Enterprise began allowing employees to return to its offices Monday, bolstered by a survey of its California employees that found 94 percent were fully vaccinated.“That gives us an added layer of comfort,” a company spokesman, Adam Bauer, said.Wells Fargo told its employees on July 16 that it would begin to bring employees currently working remotely back to the office on Sept. 7. But unlike banks that earlier called workers back with declarative language ringing in a new stage of the pandemic, the memo, sent by the bank’s chief operating officer, Scott Powell, had a notable degree of caution.“The timing communicated in this message is dependent on our assumption that the pandemic continues to remain stable or further improves,” Mr. Powell wrote. “We continue to actively monitor the situation and any developments, including new variants.”Reporting was contributed by More

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    Janet Yellen Warns That Coronavirus Variants Threaten Global Recovery

    At the end of a gathering of the finance ministers of the Group of 20 nations, the U.S. Treasury secretary called for an acceleration of vaccine distribution worldwide.Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said on Sunday that coronavirus variants could hinder the global economic recovery and called for a stepped-up effort to vaccinate the world’s population.Luca Bruno/Associated PressVENICE — Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said on Sunday that she was concerned that coronavirus variants could derail the global economic recovery and called for an urgent push to deploy vaccines more rapidly around the world.Her comments, made at the conclusion of a gathering of the finance ministers of the Group of 20 nations, came as the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus was driving outbreaks among unvaccinated populations in countries such as Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Portugal. Delta is also now the dominant variant in the United States.“We are very concerned about the Delta variant and other variants that could emerge and threaten recovery,” Ms. Yellen said. “We are a connected global economy. What happens in any part of the world affects all other countries.”Many cities and countries have started to declare victory against the pandemic, easing restrictions and returning to normal life. But Ms. Yellen warned that the public health crisis was not over.She said that the world’s top economic officials had spent much of the weekend in Venice discussing how they could improve vaccine distribution, with the goal of getting 70 percent of the world inoculated by next year. Ms. Yellen noted that many countries had been successful in financing the purchase of vaccines, but that the logistics of getting them into people’s arms were falling short.“We need to do something more and to be more effective,” she said.The spread of variants has started to dampen optimism about the trajectory of the recovery.Analysts at Capital Economics said this week that they planned to lower their economic growth outlook for the year to below 6 percent.The spread of new coronavirus variants has “raised doubts about the pace of real economic growth in the second half of this year and beyond,” Paul Ashworth, the chief North America economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a research note.The International Monetary Fund said that it was maintaining its projection for 6 percent global growth this year, but it warned that growth was being suppressed in developing countries where infection rates were surging.“The divergence across economies is intensifying,” Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the I.M.F., said on Saturday. “Essentially, the world is facing a two-track recovery.”Some finance ministers also expressed concern over the weekend that variants and slow vaccine uptake could upend the recovery. That concern was highlighted as a downside risk to the global economy in the joint statement that the group released.“The single hurdle on the way to a quick, solid economic rebound is the risk of having a new wave of pandemics,” said Bruno Le Maire, the French finance minister. “We all have to improve our vaccination performance.”The I.M.F. executive board approved a plan last week to issue $650 billion worth of reserve funds that countries could use to buy vaccines and to finance health care initiatives.Ms. Yellen said that she had pressed her Group of 20 counterparts to accelerate “equitable” delivery and distribution of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics to ensure that low- and middle-income countries could fight flare-ups of the virus.Policymakers at the meeting this weekend also spent time focusing on new investments to prepare for future pandemics. Ms. Yellen said that, while this was important, there was more that needed to be done in the near term.“Certainly variants represent a threat to the entire globe,” she said. More