Merck pill cuts COVID deaths in half, drugmaker says

(NBC) As the country reached the grim milestone of 700,000 coronavirus-related deaths, drugmaker Merck shared data on its experimental COVID-19 pill. This also comes as a group of New York City teachers is looking for some help from the Supreme Court before returning to the classroom next week.

Some potentially very positive news for anyone who comes down with COVID: a new antiviral drug, a pill that you take as soon as you start to show symptoms. Merck is out with new data Friday morning, showing a 50% reduction in hospitalizations and death. The company says it plans to file for emergency use authorization as soon as possible. This comes as the battle over vaccine mandates intensifies across the country.

Yesterday, a group of healthcare workers went before the New York State Supreme Court, arguing that this state’s vaccine mandate was invalid.

Separately, a group of New York City teachers is now asking the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and block a mandate for students and staff. It’s set to go into effect on Monday.

But now, the battle’s also heating up in schools across the country, as the National School Board Association says that it’s asking the Biden administration for help in dealing with attacks against students and staff, saying that they amount to domestic terrorism.

And all this as the U.S. hits another somber milestone in the fight against COVID: 700,000 lives lost since the start of the pandemic.

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