The resurgence of COVID-19 this summer and the national debate over vaccine requirements have created a fraught situation for the United States' first responders, who are dying in larger numbers but pushing back against mandates. It’s a stark contrast from the beginning of the vaccine rollout when first responders were prioritized for shots. The mandates affect tens of thousands of police officers, firefighters and others on the front lines across the country, many of whom are spurning the vaccine. That is happening despite mandates’ consequences that range from weekly testing to suspension to termination — even though the virus is now the leading cause of U.S. law enforcement line-of-duty deaths. According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, 132 members of law enforcement agencies are known to have died of COVID-19 in 2021. In Florida alone last month, six people affiliated with law enforcement died over a 10-day period. Despite the deaths, police officers and other first responders are among those most hesitant to get the vaccine and their cases continue to grow. No national statistics show the vaccination rate for America’s entire population of first responders but individual police and fire departments across the country report figures far below the national rate of 74% of adults who have had at least one dose.
On what's traditionally one of the sleepiest weekends at the movies, the Marvel film “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" smashed the record for Labor Day openings with an estimated $71.4 million in ticket sales, giving a box office reeling from the recent coronavirus surge a huge lift heading into the fall season. The Friday-to-Sunday gross for “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," Marvel's first film led by an Asian superhero, ranks as one of the best debuts of the pandemic, trailing only the previous Marvel film, “Black Widow” ($80.3 million in July). Overseas, it pulled in $56.2 million for a global three-day haul of $127.6 million. Disney anticipates “Shang Chi," made for about $150 million, will add $12.1 million domestically on Monday.
Salvage crews have finished cutting apart the last two sections of a cargo ship that overturned along the Georgia coast two years ago, officials said Sunday. The multiagency command overseeing demolition of the South Korean freighter Golden Ray said in a news release that the final cut was completed Saturday. Both massive chunks are awaiting removal by barge from the waters off St. Simons Island about 70 miles (112 kilometers) south of Savannah. The Golden Ray capsized soon after leaving the Port of Brunswick with 4,200 vehicles in its cargo decks on Sept. 8, 2019. Wednesday will mark two years since the ship overturned.