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The Colosseum in Italy was able to reopen on Monday after the nation relaxed coronavirus regulations that restricted bars, restaurants and museums. Despite the World Health Organization discouraging the relaxing of restrictions for Italy by saying it would be premature, the nation’s government made the decision to announce the easing of restrictions on Friday. Rome, where the Colosseum is located along with many other hotspots for tourism, is in “yellow,” meaning museums can remain open only during weekdays. The Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel also reopened after an-88 day closure — the longest one since World War II.
The state of emergency in New Jersey will remain in effect into Tuesday due to the major nor’easter slamming the region. In addition to the extended emergency order, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced that the six vaccine mega-sites across the state will also remain closed on Tuesday. “The Vaccination Call Center will remain open to pre-register individuals, answer questions, and provide contact information for sites,” Murphy said on Twitter. “It is not currently scheduling appointments until the storm's impact is assessed.”
Bar and restaurant closures amid the coronavirus pandemic led to a 5.5% decrease in beer sales in Germany last year. According to The Associated Press, beer sales in the country have been on the decline for years and have fallen 22.3% since 1993. People are staying away from the beverage due to health concerns as well as other factors, the outlet reported. Despite the decline over the past few decades, the drop in 2020 was sharper than anticipated, and the monthly breakdown of sales reveals that coronavirus restrictions may have had an impact. In April, sales were down 17.3% and November was down 14.1% compared to the prior year.
The state of emergency in New Jersey will remain in effect into Tuesday due to the major nor’easter slamming the region. In addition to the extended emergency order, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced that the six vaccine mega-sites across the state will also remain closed on Tuesday. “The Vaccination Call Center will remain open to pre-register individuals, answer questions, and provide contact information for sites,” Murphy said on Twitter. “It is not currently scheduling appointments until the storm's impact is assessed.”
Israel officials extended a nationwide lockdown on Monday intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The lockdown was originally declared on Dec. 27 and is being extended until Friday morning. Another meeting was scheduled for Wednesday morning to assess another extension. According to AFP, it is the third lockdown since the beginning of the pandemic for Israel. The nation continues to consistently report over 5,000 cases of the virus each day, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in support of an additional extension to the lockdown.
AstraZeneca agreed to provide an additional 9 million doses of the company’s coronavirus vaccine to the European Union during the first quarter, according to The Associated Press. The additional vaccine doses will push the total for the bloc to 40 million for the first quarter, which ends at the end of March. It is only half of the amount that the drug company originally intended for the E.U. prior to its announcement of a shortage in doses caused by production issues. In another change of plans, AstraZeneca will begin the deliveries a week earlier than originally intended, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. The E.U. has struggled to receive vaccines for its population as efficiently as the U.S. or U.K., and the issues have been blamed on slower authorization of the vaccines and supply shortages. “The pandemic highlighted that manufacturing capacities are a limiting factor,” the E.U. said. “It is essential to address these challenges.”
According to CDC figures, more than 31 million vaccine doses have been given out across the United States as of Monday morning. Some 25 million Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccination, and 5.6 million have received both doses of the two-shot regimen. All told, nearly 50 million vaccine doses have been distributed nationwide.
A nationwide order requiring masks on all public transportation in the United States will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday. The order, which was announced on Friday, will require face masks to be worn by anyone traveling by plane, ship subway, bus, taxis and ride-shares, Reuters reported. In addition, makes must also be worn at transportation hubs such as airports, terminals, subway or train stations and seaports. Not following the new order is a violation of federal law and individuals could face criminal or civil penalties for failing to comply, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Requiring masks on our transportation systems will protect Americans and provide confidence that we can once again travel safely even during this pandemic,” the order said, which was signed by Marty Cetron, director for CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine.
As a winter storm eyes the east coast with blizzard conditions and threatens feet of snow across the region, COVID-19 vaccine deliveries are being put at risk by the weather. FedEx told Good Morning America that the company has a team of 15 meteorologists tracking the storm. FedEx has also created contingency plans in the event of any transportation delays.
A person waits for a snow plow to pass before crossing the street in Fort Lee, N.J., Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. Snowfall is picking up in the Northeast as the region braced for a whopper of a storm that could dump well over a foot of snow in many areas, create blizzard-like conditions and cause travel problems for the next few days. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
On Monday, Washington, D.C. and New York City canceled all vaccinations for the day due to the storm. New York City is providing opportunities for people who had appointments for the day to reschedule for later in the week as well as New Jersey, where six vaccination mega-sites across the state were also closed for the day. Follow along with storm updates here.
A leading infectious disease expert predicted on Sunday that the U.K. variant of COVID-19 will become the dominant strain of the virus in the U.S. and a spring surge from it could hit the nation like a hurricane. Epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, who served on Joe Biden’s transition coronavirus advisory board after the 2020 election, warned Sunday morning that the surge with the new variant from England is likely to happen in the next six to 14 weeks. “If we see that happen, which my 45 years in the trenches tells me we will, we are going to see something like we have not seen yet in this country,” Osterholm said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Previously having supported following FDA guidelines on vaccines in regards to prioritizing giving recipients two doses rather than distributing as many first doses as possible, Osterholm told NBC that it might be time to change tactics. “The hurricane is coming. Because of this surge, we have to call an audible,” he said.
Tom Moore, a 100-year-old British World War II veteran who had participated in fundraising efforts earlier during the coronavirus pandemic, was hospitalized with COVID-19, his daughter said Sunday. Hannah Ingram-Moore tweeted that her father had been admitted to Bedford Hospital because he needed “additional help” with his breathing. She added that for the past few weeks her father had been treated for pneumonia and that he had tested positive for the coronavirus last week. Moore drew attention earlier on during the pandemic when he walked 100 laps around his garden in England for the National Health Service to coincide with his 100th birthday. Rather than raising the goal of 1,000 pounds, he raised around 33 million, according to The Associated Press.
The Major League Baseball Players Association is considering a proposal by MLB to delay the start of the 2021 season, according to ESPN. However, should the union not provide a counteroffer by early next week, spring training is likely to start in mid-February as scheduled, sources familiar with the situation told the news source. The proposal to push the start of spring training to late March and the start of the season to late April includes a 154-game schedule but would pay players their full 162-game salaries.
Hundreds of people gathered Sunday across Brazil to protest President Jair Bolsonaro’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, with many calling for his resignation or impeachment, AFP reports. Brazil holds the third-highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases behind the U.S. and India, and the virus has claimed over 200,000 lives in the nation, second only to the 441,200 lives COVID-19 has claimed in the U.S., according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Bolsonaro has downplayed the gravity of the pandemic, calling it a “little flu,” according to AFP, and minimized the importance of mask-wearing and social distancing. The news outlet reported one protest group stood Sunday before the National Congress building, wearing plastic bags over their heads to symbolize the COVID-19 patients in the nation who died after hospitals ran out of oxygen. “The result of this mismanagement is more than 220,000 Covid deaths,” Ruth Venceremos, an LGBTQ activist who took part in the protest, told AFP. “Enough with Bolsonaro — impeachment now!”
U.S. health authorities say a new glimmer of good news has emerged: recent federal data shows that new reports of coronavirus cases in nursing homes have declined over the past four weeks. The U.S. recorded 17,584 cases in the nursing homes during the week ending on Jan. 17, according to the federal data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That’s down from the 32,500 cases recorded a month earlier durning the week ending on Dec. 20. Dr. Ashish K. Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, told The New York Times that, in part, the development reflects a downward trend in new cases across the country, and one can expect to see cases at nursing homes drop as numbers elsewhere decline. The decline in cases in nursing homes is more pronounced than it is nationally possibly due to the prioritizing of the residents to be vaccinated. “That combination really does make me think this is not just broad national patterns, but that vaccines probably are playing a roll,” Jha said. “I’m optimistic, this is good.”
An early-warning system that monitors students’ mental health episodes has sent more than 3,100 alerts to district officials since schools in Clark County, Nevada, shut their doors in March, raising alarms about suicidal thoughts, possible self-harm or cries for care, the New York Times reported. By December, 18 students had taken their own lives in the district. The suicides in and around Las Vegas has made the district consider bringing students back as quickly as possible. According to the New York Times, the school board started allowing the phase in the return of some elementary school grades and groups of struggling students in January, almost one full year after the shutdown. “When we started to see the uptick in children taking their lives, we knew it wasn’t just the Covid numbers we need to look at anymore,” said Jesus Jara, the Clark County superintendent. “We have to find a way to put our hands on our kids, to see them, to look at them. They’ve got to start seeing some movement, some hope.” The problem doesn’t seem to stop in Las Vegas — One study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the percentage of youth emergency room visits that were for mental health reasons had risen during the pandemic.
According to new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the safest way to watch the Super Bowl is at home with people you live with. “Attending large gathers including the Super Bowl increases your risk of getting and spreading Covid-19,” the guidance said. “The safest way to watch the Super Bowl this year is at home with people you live with.” The CDC recommended those who decide to attend the game or a large watch party should not chant or cheer, and instead stomp, clap or use hand-held noisemakers.
Approximately 200 people have been arrested in Brussels after protesting against restrictive orders forced in the country. Demonstrators of the event shouted that they want their freedom back, Belgian media reported. Anyone who lingered in the neighborhood or did not leave risked being arrested after police had banned the demonstrations.
A police officer kicks a protester during a demonstration against COVID-19 restrictive measures in Brussels, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Coresight Research said in a report that as many as 10,000 stores may close by the end of this year, setting a new record. This would be a 14% uptick from the number of closures in 2020, according to CNBC. Growth of grocery discount stores and dollar store chains is expected to cause retailers to announce 4,000 store openings in 2021. Last year had 8,741 closures and just over 3,000 openings. The most closures came in 2019 when 9,832 stores closed. The coronavirus vaccine is expected to start a partial recovery in store sales, but with the vaccine still months away from most consumers, major increases may not happen until much later in the year. Coresight found 1,678 closures have already been announced this year, including chains such as Bed Bath & Beyond and Macy's.
Confirmed cases: 102,525,801
Stephen Lynch, a Democratic congressman for Massachusetts, tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday despite already being vaccinated for the virus. "This afternoon U.S. Representative Stephen F. Lynch received a positive test result for COVID-19 after a staff member in the Congressman's Boston office had tested positive earlier in the week," Lynch's spokeswoman Molly Rose Tarpey said in a statement, CNN reported. Lynch remains asymptomatic and will isolate, voting by proxy for the week. According to Tarpey, Lynch has already received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it "typically takes a few weeks" for a person to build up immunity to the virus after becoming inoculated. According to the CDC, the vaccine prevents illness but not infection, so a person can still become infected after being vaccinated but should not get sick.
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts and Stagecoach Country Music festivals that were scheduled for April of 2021 were canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Public Health Officer for Riverside County Dr. Cameron Kaiser signed a public health order on Friday ordering the cancelation of the events, he announced on Twitter. In 2020, Coachella was originally postponed to October before being canceled entirely, The Verge reported. “This order is intended to reduce the likelihood of exposure to COVID-19,” the order said. “If COVID-19 were detected at these festivals, the scope and number of attendees and the nature of the venue would make it infeasible, if not impossible, to track those who may be placed at risk.”
The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Thursday that about 400 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine have been secured for the continent. Africa is suffering a strong increase in coronavirus infections, with Africa CDC director John Nkengasong calling the surge "very aggressive." Nkengasong also warned the wave has not peaked yet, according to The Associated Press. The continent is trying to meet a goal of vaccinating 60% of the population to achieve herd immunity. Africa is also expected to receive 600 million doses from the global COVAX initiative which helps low-income countries receive the vaccine. The World Health Organization told reporters that the goal of 600 million doses for Africa by the end of 2021 can "definitely be reached."
Maryland became the second state in the U.S. to identify a case of the coronavirus variant first discovered in South Africa. South Carolina was the first state to report a case of the variant. The person who contracted the variant case in Maryland was an adult living in the Baltimore area, CNN reported. They had not traveled internationally, so a news release from Gov. Larry Hogan's office said community spread is likely. "Comprehensive contact tracing efforts are underway to ensure that potential contacts are quickly identified, quarantined, and tested," according to the statement, which was released on Saturday.
On Friday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will start forcing people to wear a mask while using any form of public transportation in the U.S., beginning Monday at 11:59 p.m. including those who have had COVID-19 or the COVID-19 vaccine, CNN reports. The CDC said that public transportation operators must enforce the mask mandate by only allowing those who are wearing a mask to board and remove any passengers who refuse to comply. The CDC said on its website that people are only allowed to take their masks off briefly to eat, drink or take medication; verify their identity to law enforcement or transportation officials; communicate with hearing-impaired people; don an oxygen mask on an aircraft; or during a medical emergency.
The global tourism sector lost $1.3 trillion due to the coronavirus pandemic last year. The financial loss for the sector is due to a significant drop in people traveling, according to the United Nations. The UN called 2020 “the worst year in tourism history,” AFP reported. The loss that was reported last year equated to "more than 11 times the loss recorded during the 2009 global economic crisis” which resulted in anywhere between 100 million and 120 million tourism-related jobs being put at risk, according to the World Tourism Organization. Asia was the first region to experience the impact on the tourism sector and experienced the steepest decline in revenue because of it. International tourist arrivals across the globe fell by 74%, equating to 1 billion arrivals. "While much has been made in making safe international travel a possibility, we are aware that the crisis is far from over," WTO head Zurab Pololikashvili said.
Up to 30,000 spectators per day will be allowed to attend the opening week of the Australia Open, the minister for sport in Australia’s state of Victoria, Martin Pakula, and Tennis Australia CEO, Craig Tiley announced in a press conference. "We're really looking forward to welcoming fans to Melbourne Park for the @AustralianOpen @ATPCup and Melbourne Summer Series starting tomorrow," said Tiley in a tweet. Thousands of cheering fans packed the stands to watch the tennis games, with hardly a face mask to be seen. The crowd of 4,000 spectators watched Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka play exhibition matches after their 14-day quarantine.
An in-depth look at two independent K-12 U.S. schools, one in the Southeast and one in the Mid-Atlantic, showed that children don’t spread coronavirus in school when proper precautions are taken. Out of 3,500 students, just 234 coronavirus infections were documented during the fall semester and just 9% of students who brought new infections to school infected others, the researchers found. “There was no evidence of student-to-teacher or teacher-to-student transmission in either school,” the researchers wrote, CNN reports. “To our knowledge, this is the only, comprehensive and long-term study that tested all K-12 students (asymptomatic) and staff from August through December -- making it the only one where we really see disease incidence in this age group and true spread in schools,” Dr. Darria Long of the University of Tennessee Department of Emergency Medicine, who worked on the study, told CNN.
Despite lower cases and easing restrictions, people in India are still hesitating to spend their money amid the pandemic, instead opting to save in case of an emergency. Sarita Ekka, a maid in New Delhi, told The Wall Street Journal that she stopped shopping and is even postponing her wedding to focus on a financial safety net due to the coronavirus pandemic. “Marriage can wait. I’m saving for COVID emergencies,” she said. “What if I lose my job? What if I have a medical emergency? Life is more important than these things.” India holds the fifth largest economy in the world but was also one of the hardest hit by the pandemic with over 10 million confirmed cases of the virus. According to the outlet, consumers like Ekka will be the ones to set the country back on a path to economic recovery. “There’s this huge mountain of money out there which people have been able to save," said Pranjul Bhandari, chief India economist at HSBC.
The University of Kentucky canceled its men’s basketball game on Saturday and put all other team sporting events on pause due to coronavirus tests that came back positive and quarantining. The now-canceled basketball game was set to be against Texas and is the first event Kentucky canceled due to the virus this season. The hold on sporting events will last for at least 48 hours, UPI reported. "The health and safety of Wildcat student-athletes, coaches and staff remains U.K. athletics' No. 1 priority,” according to a statement from The University of Kentucky.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) placed a countrywide import alert on all alcohol-based hand sanitizers coming from Mexico. The FDA plans to review the safety of the products due to an increase in hand sanitizers coming from Mexico that are labeled to contain ethanol but test positive for methanol contamination. According to the agency, methanol can be toxic when it is absorbed through the skin and even life threatening when ingested. "Consumer use of hand sanitizers has increased significantly during the coronavirus pandemic, especially when soap and water are not accessible, and the availability of poor-quality products with dangerous and unacceptable ingredients will not be tolerated," said Judy McMeekin, Pharm.D., FDA Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs. “Today’s actions are necessary to protect the safe supply of alcohol-based hand sanitizers. We will continue to work with our stakeholders to ensure the availability of safe products and to communicate vital information with the health and safety of U.S. consumers in mind.”
The situation remains dire in much of the United Kingdom days after the country topped 100,000 deaths related to the coronavirus. A strict lockdown remains in place throughout the country and earlier this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he hopes a "gradual and phased" relaxation of restrictions can begin in early March. At King's College Hospital in London, doctors and nurses there say they're doing the best they can amid very difficult circumstances, AFP reported. However, due to the high number of patients, they have to prioritize what they "can and can't do." Watch the video below for more.
The United States economy shrunk by 3.5% in 2020, making it the worst year for the economy since 1946. Layoffs are continuing to impact the country into 2021 as well, with 1.3 million new unemployment claims filed just last week. According to AFP, analysts believe the economy will not return to normal until the coronavirus, which has led to the closure of many businesses and the loss of many jobs, is gone or at a point where it is being easily managed. ”Additional fiscal stimulus and broader vaccine diffusion should support an improved labor market in the spring, but claims are expected to remain high in the near term as the pandemic continues to restrict activity, with new strains of the virus a concern," Nancy Vanden Houten of Oxford Economics said.
If New York City’s positive coronavirus rate remains in its current state, the city will once again allow indoor dining, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday. According to Cuomo, the positivity rate in the city dropped from more than 7% earlier this month to 4.9% as of Friday. If all goes as planned, indoor dining will begin on Feb. 14 — one of the busiest days of the year for the restaurant industry, Axios reported. Restaurants will be allowed to open at just 25% capacity. Despite the loosening restrictions, restaurants will still be required to close by 10 p.m. Beginning on March 15, New York City also plans to open to wedding receptions at 50% of capacity with a maximum of 150 people, with a requirement that all guests test negative beforehand.
A team of World Health Organization officials continues to conduct a fact-finding mission in Wuhan, China, about the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. On Friday, the team visited the hospital where the first patients were treated over a year ago, The Associated Press reported. The WHO team also had its first in-person meeting with Chinese officials at a Wuhan hotel. The WHO is planning to do more field visits around Wuhan and will reportedly speak to early responders and some of the first patients who survived the disease. A trip to the Huanan Seafood Market, which has been linked to the earliest infections in the pandemic, is also scheduled. Watch the video below for more.
A broken freezer at Kaiser Permanente left 1,650 doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine at risk of expiring before they could be used. In an attempt to put the vaccines to use, hundreds of people hurried to clinics located at Seattle University and University of Washington late on Thursday night to receive one of the at-risk doses, King 5 News reported. The last-minute appointments went from 11 p.m. on Thursday night all the way to 2 a.m. According to Swedish Medical Center COO Kevin Brooks, it took 35-40 minutes for the medical facilities to fill up the appointment slots. “We got a call from a partner hospital that they had a fridge malfunction and they needed to vaccinate 880 people,” said Brooks. “I pulled our team together, our vaccine team at Swedish, and we huddled on Microsoft Teams and came up with a plan, and 30 minutes later we came on site.”
With Super Bowl 55 set to take place in Tampa amid a global pandemic, both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have entered a critical phase. According to NFL policy, any player or team staff member who tests positive for COVID-19 from this point on will be ineligible to play in or attend the big game, ESPN reporter Adam Schefter pointed out on Friday. Schefter said the league is operating under the same policy it used all season, and that the policy applies to even the biggest-name players. And speaking of big-name players, Tom Brady will be chasing his seventh career Super Bowl ring next Sunday with his parents reportedly in the stands looking on. It was revealed earlier this week that the legendary QB’s parents, Tom Sr. and Galynn, both of whom are 76, both survived bouts with COVID-19 last year. According to NBC Sports, Brady said his parents will be part of a “full contingent” traveling to Tampa to watch him play in the Super Bowl. Florida saw more than 11,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, but new infections have been trending down in the Sunshine State over the last week, Johns Hopkins University figures show.
Mexico now has the third-highest COVID-19 death toll in the world after its Health Ministry reported 1,506 deaths on Thursday, bringing its pandemic total to 155,145 as of early Friday. The country passed India, which is now fourth with a total of 154,010 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. According to Bloomberg, Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has resisted mandatory lockdowns that have been enforced in other countries. Lopez Obrador is currently battling his own COVID-19 infection. “The Covid-19 pandemic causes much sadness, much pain, it’s harmful, but more harmful, more dire is the plague of corruption; it’s worse than an illness,” Lopez Obrador said last week, according to Bloomberg. The country began administering Pfizer's vaccine late last month but it hasn't reported any decrease in cases or deaths.
Thursday was another deadly day across the U.S. due to the coronavirus as Johns Hopkins University reported 4,000 fatalities were tallied. The death toll in the U.S., now more than a year since the first official case of COVID-19 was detected, has exceeded 433,000. For more on how the virus is spreading throughout the country and beyond, watch the video below.
Britain is asking for tens of thousands of volunteers to administer vaccines in the largest inoculation campaign in its history. Britain began the rollout of its vaccination program at the start of December and has set the goal of giving a first dose of the vaccine to 15 million people before Feb. 15. A former British Airways flight attendant who lost her job in September is one of those who has volunteered, MSN reported. "Whilst I can't fly with British Airways, whilst I can't do that, I personally choose to do something that can help make the process faster, help in any way," the former flight attendant, Sarah Glanville-Webber, told AFP.
Portugal extended a national lockdown until mid-February on Thursday as the country deals with one of the world's worst surges of the coronavirus, Reuters reported. The county is also implementing limits on international travel. The virus is overwhelming hospitals in the country, causing Prime Minister Antonio Costa to accept blame for the worsening crisis. Costa told the broadcasting station TVI that the situation was “terrible ... and we’ll face this worst moment for a few more weeks," Reuters said. Costa noted that the situation in the country had worsened due to relaxed restrictions during the holiday season. Amid the new lockdown measures, Portugese nationals are banned from traveling to other countries by air, land or sea through the next two weeks, Reuters reported. Strict checks along the Spanish border will also be implemented. Portugal announced a record 303 COVID-19 deaths and 16,432 new cases. With a population of 10 million, it has the world's highest per capita seven-day average for new cases and deaths, Reuters said.
Johnson & Johnson on Friday announced the results from its phase 3 trial of its COVID-19 vaccine. The medical company's trial found that the vaccine, which is to be applied in a single dose rather than two like the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, was "66% effective overall in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 28 days after vaccination among all participants from different geographies and including those infected with an emerging viral variant." The safety and efficacy results of the trial were based on 43,783 participants accruing 468 symptomatic cases of COVID-19, the company said. The vaccine was 85% effective in preventing the most serious cases of COVID-19 in the regions studied. J&J also said that the level of efficacy varied by region. "The level of protection against moderate to severe COVID-19 infection was 72% in the United States, 66% in Latin America and 57% in South Africa, 28 days post-vaccination," J&J said. The company now intends to file for an emergency use authorization with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in early February.
A vial and syringe are seen in front of a displayed Johnson&Johnson logo in this illustration taken January 11, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the FDA, called the J&J findings a "fantastic result" on Twitter. "We now have 3 highly effective vaccines," Gottlieb wrote. "This vaccine showed sustained (and increasing!) immune protection over time, perhaps from a robust early induction of memory immune cells (CD4 and CD8). The protection was strong and durable This one-shot vaccine was highly effective at preventing severe disease, even with new variants. The milieu of disease now is more complex; even in U.S. - trials done today are running into more mutated cases. Make no mistake: this is an important and wonderful development."
The U.S. economy shrank in 2020 by the largest amount in 74 years, growing at just a 4% rate in the last three months of the year. The coronavirus caused the largest economic freeze since the end of World War II, contributing to the 3.5% contraction of the economy in 2020. Tens of millions of Americans became jobless, prompting a deep recession which contributed to the economic fall. The nation's gross domestic product had a sharp slowdown in the October-December quarter, according to The Associated Press. A record-shattering 31.4% plunge took place in the April-June quarter when the economy first took a hit from the coronavirus. Economists warn that recovery won't be able to take place until vaccines are distributed nationwide and available to most, which will take months. The pandemic-induced slump was also responsible for ending the nation's longest economic expansion on record of nearly 11 years.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced accusations of flouting the country’s coronavirus lockdown rules Thursday after visiting Scotland to praise the rapid rollout of vaccines across the United Kingdom. Johnson is arguing that Scotland benefits directly from his government’s approach to rolling out the vaccines quickly in a time when polls are showing increased support for Scottish independence, The Associated Press reported. However, the visit was possibly overshadowed by the lockdown dispute as critics say the prime minister was worrying more about politics in a time when the nation is enduring a strict lockdown in the midst of a resurgence of the coronavirus.
The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is calling the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines a “global emergency” after fewer than 20,000 of the more than 70 million doses were administered on the African continent. Guterres warned on Thursday in a news conference that every country has the duty to protect its own people, “no country can afford to neglect the rest of the world,” The Associated Press reported. He continued to warn that if COVID-19 continues circulating the global south, it will inevitably mutate with new variants becoming more deadly, more transmissible and threaten the effectiveness of current vaccines.
A restaurant in Nice, France, is defying the government’s lockdown orders by opening for the day as a form of protest, AFP reported. The restaurant, which EuroNews identified as being “Poppies,” defied orders when the owner opened for business on Wednesday to dozens of patrons. The owner, Christophe Wilson, was later arrested and taken into custody, which the outlet reports was for a reason unrelated to the disregard for coronavirus orders as he allegedly employed his cook illegally, according to authorities. "I have to pay my employees, support my family," Wilson said. According to Johns Hopkins University, France is the sixth-most infected country in the world in terms of confirmed cases. The country has reported 3.1 million confirmed cases and over 72,000 deaths related to the virus. See the bustling restaurant operate in full swing below:
Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine was found to be nearly 90% effective in preliminary results from a clinical trial in the U.K., the company said. However, in a separate trial, the vaccine appeared to be less effective against the new coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa, STAT reported. The trial in the U.K. involved 15,000 volunteers, and the vaccine prevented nine in 10 cases, including the new variant of the virus that was first identified in the nation. However, in a 1,4000-volunteer study in South Africa, the vaccine proved only 49% effective — and only 60% effective in the 94% of the study population that did not have HIV. Operation Warp Speed is running its own U.S. trial of the Novavax vaccine in the U.S. and Mexico, and researchers expect to complete enrollment in the first half of February, STAT reported.
The World Health Organization (WHO) issued recommendations on Tuesday on the use of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine as it works with the company to accelerate approval of the vaccine for WHO emergency use listing, Reuters reported.In the recommendations, WHO included that the use of the Moderna vaccine for people who are pregnant is currently not recommended, unless they are at risk of high exposure. The reasoning is based on needing more clinical trials of the Moderna vaccine on the group. “There is no reason to think there could be a problem in pregnancy, we are just acknowledging the data is not there at the moment,” WHO director of immunization Kate O’Brien said. The list of people who should not take the vaccine also extends to individuals with a history of severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine, very frail older persons, and people younger than 18 years of age.
The U.S confirmed its first two cases of the coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa in South Carolina, officials reported. Dr. Brannon Traxler, South Carolina Department of Health’s interim public health director said both cases were tested earlier in the month and neither are contagious at this point, CNN reported. The two cases have no travel history or connections to each other, the department said. No other cases have been linked to the two first identified. ”It does take a while for sequencing to be done," Traxler said. "We do not have concern at this time ... about there being the potential for any mass, widespread transmission."
The number of deaths from the virus in New York nursing homes may have been undercounted by as much as 50%, according to a report released on Thursday from the state’s attorney general. Attorney General Letitia James has been investigating nursing homes throughout the state since March after allegations of patient neglect and other allegations of concerning conduct arose. OAG asked 62 nursing homes — about 10% of the total nursing homes in New York — for on-site and in-hospital deaths from COVID-19. From this, they compared the in-facility deaths reported to the office of Attorney General compared to the in-facility deaths publicized by the state’s Department of Health as well as the total deaths reported to OAG compared to the total deaths publicized by DOH. The facilities reported 1,914 deaths of residents from COVID-19 to OAG compared to the 1,229 deaths DOH reported in nursing homes, according to The Associated Press.
The news source added that part of the gap is explained by the New York health department's decision to exclude the number of nursing home patients who died after being transferred to hospitals from their count. After the report was published, the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement from New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker disputing that there had been an undercount. “The OAG’s report is only referring to the count of people who were in nursing homes but transferred to hospitals and later died,” Zucker said. “That does not in any way change the total count of deaths but its instead a question of allocating the number of deaths between hospitals and nursing homes.” The statement included that from March 1, 2020, to Jan. 19, 2021, 9,786 confirmed fatalities have been associated with the state’s nursing homes, including 5,957 fatalities within the nursing facilities and 3,829 within a hospital.
The number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits last week dropped to 847,000, The Associated Press reported. The latest figures from the Labor Department show that the number was about 67,000 less than the 914,000 that filed the week before. Despite the drop, the numbers remain historically high, according to the AP. Prior to the pandemic taking hold in March, weekly applications for unemployment benefits had never topped 700,000 in the U.S. At one point back in May, nearly 25 million Americans were receiving some type of state unemployment benefits, the AP said.
Madrid authorities paused administering coronavirus vaccines due to shipment delays which are threatening supplies in Catalonia. Spanish officials said on Wednesday the region has ceased first vaccinations for at least this week and next to be able to use the few doses it has left to administer second shots to those who have had the first one. “We need more doses and we need them now,” Deputy Regional Government Chief Ignacio Aguado told reporters on Wednesday. According to Reuters, U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer warned last week there would be a temporary slow down in shipments to the European Union in late January as a result of changes to manufacturing processes.
The Lowy Institute, located in Sydney, Australia, studied nearly 100 countries on multiple criteria to determine which countries had better handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The criteria included confirmed cases, deaths, testing metrics and more. New Zealand, which closed its borders early and kept them closed, was deemed the best county to handle the pandemic. The others in the top 10 included: Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand, Cyprus, Rwanda, Iceland, Australia, Latvia and Sri Lanka. On the other side of the spectrum, Brazil was deemed the worst country to handle the pandemic out of the 98 studied. Brazil has recorded 218,000 deaths from the virus. Other countries at the bottom included: Mexico, Colombia and Iran. The United States was ranked 94th on the list. China, where the virus originated, was not included in the study due to lack of public data on testing.
Despite the steadily climbing death toll in the U.S., there are signs of hope on the horizon. The country's surge of post-holiday COVID-19 infections appears to be declining and that's allowed some states to ease restrictions. California Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted regional stay-at-home orders earlier this week. And in Los Angeles County, the most densely-populated county in the state, elementary schools might be able to reopen within the next two to three weeks, Reuters reported, citing the Los Angeles Times. Across the country, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo lifted economic restrictions that had been enforced where the rate of infection was the highest. “At this point it’s safe to say the holiday surge was anticipated, the holiday surge did happen, but the holiday surge is over,” Cuomo said, according to Reuters.
Viewers noticed that Good Morning America host Michael Strahan had been missing from the daily broadcast this week, and, as a result, his co-host Robin Roberts explained at the outset of Thursday’s show that Strahan had tested positive for COVID-19. Strahan has been co-hosting GMA since 2016. Prior to his TV career, he was one of the most feared defensive lineman in the NFL, playing his entire 15-year career with the New York Giants and racking up 141 sacks over that time. Roberts and George Stephanopoulos, who had his own brush with the coronavirus last year, told viewers that Strahan is quarantining at his home and feeling OK. Watch the announcement below.
Cyprus will start the gradual, targeted lifting of closures and restrictions come Feb. 1 after seeing a steady decrease in new coronavirus infections three weeks into its nationwide lockdown, the country’s health minister said Wednesday. The first businesses to reopen their doors will be hair and beauty salons, followed by retail stores, shopping malls and elementary schools a week later, Constantinos Ioannou said, according to The Associated Press. Other restrictions like the limited twice-a-day excursions will remain in effect to prevent infections from rising again, and reopened businesses will be obligated to conduct rapid coronavirus tests to at least 20% of their staff.
The nation’s four most populous states each were among those with the highest numbers of new coronavirus cases tallied on Wednesday, according to statistics from Johns Hopkins University. Throughout the country, more than 152,000 new cases were recorded on Wednesday, and it was another deadly day across with country, with nearly 4,000 more fatalities reported, bringing the total close to 430,000 deaths since the outbreak officially erupted on U.S. soil last January. For a closer look at data on how the coronavirus is spreading in the U.S. and around the world, watch the video below.
After getting canceled altogether last year, the Cannes Film Festival is postponing this year’s event from May to July in hopes of having an in-person festival. This year’s festival will now take place on July 6-17, roughly two months after it's normally held, Cannes organizers announced Wednesday. Last year, Cannes also toyed with the idea of postponing its 73rd festival to June or July before ultimately canceling altogether, the Association Press reported. This year, organizers are set on having the festival, one way or another, however, no details on how they would go about that were announced Wednesday.
Norway will close its borders to visitors with the exception of essential visitors, starting midnight local time on Friday, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said on Wednesday, according to The Guardian. “In practice, the border will be closed to anyone not living in Norway,” Solberg said in a news conference. Exceptions will apply to health workers from some countries, but Solberg added that the border closing would also mean that most migrant workers would not be able to reenter the country. These new restrictions will be readdressed in two weeks, Solberg said.
The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor asked all students on campus to stay home, except for a handful of in-person classes, for the next two weeks. “We are very concerned about the potential for this variant to spread quickly,” Jimena Loveluck, health officer for Washtenaw County, said in a news release. “We are working closely with the university to take coordinated steps to control the current outbreak and understand the situation more fully. This stay-in-place recommendation will help us reduce the impact of the variant and COVID-19 in general as we investigate.” According to Detroit Free Press, students are allowed to leave their homes only to participate in limited activities, including in-person classes, work or research that cannot be completed remotely, obtaining food and medical care and other approved activities.
With less than six months until the Olympic Games are supposed to start, insurers are faced with potentially losing $2-3 billion if the Tokyo Olympics are canceled this year. Brokers say this would be the largest ever claim in the global event cancellation market if the games are canceled. The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) executive board will meet this week to talk about the options. Reuters reports that event cancellation insurers have had a challenging time this year as festivals, conferences and sporting events have been postponed or canceled. Broker Howden estimates coronavirus event cancellation losses at $5-6 billion, but if the Olympics gets canceled it “would be by far the largest,” said Simon Henderson, an executive director at broker Gallagher.
Mourners and survivors joined online commemorations for International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday, observing the 76th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz as the pandemic pressed for safer ways to gather.The nature of this year’s commemoration offers a sharp contrast to last year’s events marking the anniversary, which had included around 200 survivors and dozens of European leaders gathered at Auschwitz — one of the last largest international gatherings before the pandemic sparked shutdowns, according to The Associated Press. In a message to a World Jewish Congress and Auschwitz memorial museum event, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier added that remembrance events via an online format takes nothing away from their importance. “It’s a duty but also a responsibility, one we inherit from those who lived through the horror of the Shoah, whose voices are gradually disappearing,” Steinmeier said. “The greatest danger for all of us begins with forgetting. With no longer remembering what we inflict upon one another when we tolerate anti-Semitism and racism in our midst.” He added, “We must remain alert, must identify prejudice and conspiracy theories, and combat them with reason, passion and resolve.”
Schools will stay closed in the U.K. until at least March 8. In addition, all travelers arriving from somewhere designated as a virus hot spot must quarantine for 10 days. A long-term plan for lifting the national lockdown is being worked on, with face-to-face teaching being prioritized, according to Bloomberg. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that the current restrictions will need to stay in place and possibly even tightened as the country mourns its 100,000th coronavirus death. Hot spot regions for travelers include South America, South Africa, and Portugal. Schools were originally planned to reopen on Feb. 15 but Johnson says that is no longer possible.
Several states are loosening their coronavirus restrictions on restaurants and other businesses as infection and hospitalization numbers improve. However, the new variants have remained in the peripheral, for the most part. Health experts have warned that the more transmissible U.K. variant, which has already been reported across over 20 states, may become the dominant source of infection in the U.S. by March, according to The Associated Press. In addition, there are other variants circulating in South Africa and Brazil, and the latter variant was recently detected for the first time in the U.S. in Minnesota. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable to start to reopen, but if people think that’s the green light to pretend the virus doesn’t exist, then we’re going to be right back to where we were,” Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, vice dean for the public health practice and community engagement at Johns Hopkins University and Maryland’s former health department chief, told the AP. “If you do restrictions, the virus goes down. You can open up and see how it goes. But if the variants really take hold, that may not be so easy.”
Vaccine chasers are waiting as long as 18 hours outside Los Angeles inoculation centers to try and get coronavirus jabs from vials that would otherwise be waste. A vaccine chaser is someone who waits outside to try and get leftover doses of the vaccine. At the end of each day, doctors search for people to receive the doses before they expire due to being out of the fridge. "Once we open it, we have to use it all within six hours," Dr. Jerry Abraham explained to AFP. "There are times when the appointment line is down, and we have expiring doses of vaccine, and I refuse to let a drop go to waste." For some residents, doing their part in the pandemic means taking the time to wait for a vaccine that would otherwise be wasted. "We really do feel like we're actually doing our part by doing this and getting vaccinated, because if this vaccine is just going to end up in the trash, like what good does that do to anyone?" Los Angeles resident Elaine Loh told AFP. One-in-10 Los Angeles residents have had the coronavirus, according to AFP. In the United States, more than 400,000 people have died due to COVID-19.
Lawmakers from Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's ruling coalition were caught visiting night clubs despite a call from the government to avoid unnecessary outings. Suga told parliament that he is, "terribly sorry that this happened when we are asking people not to eat out after 8 p.m. and to avoid non-essential, non-urgent outings." A state of emergency was issued in Tokyo this month to try and combat a sharp uptick in coronavirus cases across the region, according to Reuters. It requests restaurants and bars to close by 8 p.m. although no penalties are in place for those that don't follow. The incident from the lawmakers has caused public anger because hospital beds continue to fill up around Japan due to the recent surge of the virus.
A new report from California showed the risk of death for bakers and cooks rose more than 50% due to the coronavirus. Truck drivers saw a 30% increase in death risk and construction workers as high as 40%. This report helps put into perspective the continued need for stronger protections against COVID-19 for essential workers and those around them. Joseph G. Allen, director of the Healthy Buildings program at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, has suggested the need for better masks to help reduce the risks from the virus. In an opinion piece published in The Washington Post, Allen suggested that there was, "no reason any essential worker, and, really, everyone in the country should go without filter 95 percent (N95) masks." Studies have shown that a typical cloth mask captures half of all respiratory aerosols when talking or breathing. A tightly woven cloth mask goes up to 60 or 70% and a blue surgical mask jumps to 70 or 80%. But an N95 mask is able to capture 95% of these aerosols, greatly decreasing the risk of catching the virus.
More than 44 million doses have been distributed nationwide, according to the CDC, and, as of Wednesday morning, some 23.5 million Americans have been given at least one shot of the coronavirus vaccine. The number of Americans who have received both doses of the vaccine was just shy of 3.9 million on Wednesday, according to CDC figures. Of those 23 million, about 13 million have received the Pfizer vaccine and about 10 million have been given the Moderna shot. Close to 100,000 of the doses given were not tracked according to which drug maker produced vaccine.
A CDC graph showing a breakdown of which vaccines have been administered as of Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. (CDC)
In this Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021 file photo, a healthcare worker tends to a COVID-19 patient in the intensive care unit at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center during the coronavirus pandemic in San Jose, Calif. California reported 669 COVID-19 deaths, the second-highest daily death count, on Saturday Jan. 16, 2021 and the nation's most populous county announced it had detected its first case of a more transmissible strain of the coronavirus. Public health authorities in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
Findings from a new study out of Spain may offer physical clues that someone is infected with COVID-19, AFP reported. Health care professionals at Madrid's La Paz hospital performed a study back in the spring that looked at changes reported on more than 600 patients who had COVID-19 at the time. Researchers found that changes to the tongue, as well as the hands or the soles of a person's feet, could present an early sign of COVID-19 infection, AFP reported. One in four patients reportedly noticed changes to their tongue, while four out of 10 discovered unusual signs on the palms of their hands or soles of their feet, such as redness or a burning sensation. AFP reported. In what is being referred to as "COVID tongue," some patients reported a swelling of the tongue and the appearance of patches, AFP reported. To read the full study, click here.
President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that the U.S. will increase deliveries of coronavirus vaccines to states that currently are facing shortages, The Associated Press reported. The president, calling the dramatic undertaking a "wartime effort," said production will increase over the next three weeks and the current goal is to vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of the summer or early fall, according to the AP. The Biden administration is currently working to buy an additional 100 million doses each of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the AP said. Shortages in some states have resulted in thousands of appointments to give out the shots to be canceled. “This is unacceptable,” Biden said. “Lives are at stake.”
Though fatalities, new cases and hospitalizations have trended lower over the last week, the high numbers of deaths recorded throughout the first half of January have made it the deadliest month of the pandemic in the U.S. According to figures kept by Johns Hopkins University, more than 79,000 deaths have been recorded across the nation this month, CNN reported. That is more than a thousand more fatalities than what was recorded in December 2020, which was previously the deadliest month. And there are still several days left in January. In fact, on Tuesday, the daily death toll exceeded 4,000 again, bringing the total death toll above 425,000. For more on how the virus is spreading in the U.S. and beyond, watch the video below.
The Welsh government has blamed foul weather for not reaching the goal of vaccinating 70% of the people over the age of 80. First Minister Mark Drakeford said many people in the over-80 demographic have felt unsafe attending appointments amid the snow and ice. Figures show only 96,830, or 52.8%, had their first dose, but there is a lag and it can take up to five days for doses injected to be included in the figures. According to BBC News, that compares to 10.6% in England, 8.6% in Northern Ireland and 8% in Scotland. According to AccuWeather Meteorologist Jim Andrews, some of the rain near the middle of the month was heavy, prompting warnings by the U.K. Met Office. “Wales is known for its highlands, where the weather can be significantly more severe than that near sea level. As such, there were of snowfalls on at least a few days that likely made for tricky driving, enough to put off unneeded travel,” Andrews said.
American biotechnology company Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. said on Tuesday its antibody cocktail was found to be effective in preventing COVID-19 in people exposed to others infected by the coronavirus in an ongoing late stage trial, Reuters reported. Based on an early analysis of 400 participants who had a household member with COVID-19, REGEN-COV caused a 100% reduction in symptomatic infection and roughly 50% lower overall rates of infection. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization to the antibody cocktail for treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults and children back in November, and now Regeneron said it would discuss the potentially expanding the EUA. The current trial tested RENGEN-COV for use as a passive vaccine — something that would directly deliver virus-fighting antibodies rather than how a traditional vaccine operates by activating the receiver’s immune system to develop its own antibodies. “These data using REGEN-COV as a passive vaccine suggests that it may both reduce transmission of the virus as well as reduce viral and disease burden in those who still get infected,” said George Yancopoulos, president and chief scientific officer of Regeneron.
San Antonio’s game in New Orleans was canceled on Monday night less than two hours before the planned tip-off time after the NBA determined that neither team would have enough players available. The game was set to take place Monday, Jan. 25, at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. “Because of ongoing contact tracing within both the Spurs and Pelicans, neither team has the league-required eight available players to proceed with the scheduled game,” the NBA said, according to Reuters. San Antonio became the 24th team to have at least one game postponed so far this season because of the virus. Of the 22 postponements this season, 21 have been made since Jan. 10.
Minnesotans residents who are 65 and older will have a 24-hour window to pre-register for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment by lottery. According to Gov. Tim Walz, everyone who is currently on the waitlist from the first week will be automatically pre-registered. "The updated process accounts for anticipated high demand for appointments online and at the call center and allows for more equitable and orderly access to appointments by eliminating the first come, first served system," per a news release from the governor’s office. Walz shared the news of the update on Twitter by writing: "Today we made changes to Minnesota’s community vaccination efforts. No matter how many doses we get from the federal government, whether it’s a few thousand or many more, we're going to get the vaccine we have quickly into Minnesotans’ arms."
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has barred all children aged 10 to 14 from leaving their homes as the country continues to battle a new strain of the coronavirus. Duterte encouraged kids to watch TV inside instead of going outside. The stay-at-home orders include children and the elderly. "Go back to your homes... and besides they're good just with the TV. They can glue their attention to the TV the whole day," Duterte said. Some parents have disregarded the rule and allowed their children to play in parks and on the street. However, classrooms continue to be shut down, according to AFP. The ban on children 10 to 14 going outside was originally supposed to be lifted in February but Duterte said he did not want to take the risk. More than half a million people in the Philippines have contracted the virus since the pandemic began.
New cases of COVID-19 are back on the rise in France and health officials are asking people to avoid one specific activity while using public transportation. "The mandatory wearing of masks on public transport, where social distancing is not possible, should be accompanied by one very simple precaution: avoid talking and making phone calls," the academy said in a statement Friday, according to CBS News. France is not the first to impose these measures. California announced similar anti-talking rules on public transportation back in November, and signs around Spain have been spotted encouraging people to avoid speaking when out in public, even while wearing masks, CBS News added.
Carlos Holmes Trujilo was taken to a hospital with severe COVID-19 symptoms earlier this month and developed viral pneumonia, according to the BBC. Trujilo was being treated in intensive care in a military hospital located in the capital city of Bogotá. His brother, José Renán Trujillo, took to Twitter to pay tribute to him, "It is with great pain that I hear my brother has died. He fought for his convictions and he died defending them." Trujilo's career lasted more than 30 years in Colombia.
Since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Wuhan, China, on Dec. 31, 2019, the virus has spread to virtually every corner of the globe. On Tuesday, the number of confirmed cases around the world hit 100 million, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University. More than 25% of all cases have come from the U.S., significantly more than any other country in the world. More than 2.1 million fatalities have been blamed on the virus around the globe, including 423,000 in the U.S. alone.
Teachers and university students marched in protest on Tuesday around France to demand more support from the government amid the coronavirus. Teachers are demanding better protection from the coronavirus at schools, which have been opened since the fall. The government kept schools open over fears of a learning gap if they remained closed. On top of coronavirus concerns, teachers unions are fighting for improved wages and more educators to be hired. About 12% of teachers nationwide took part in the protest on Tuesday, according to the education ministry. Students are trying to get more financial support from the government and are calling attention to the emotional trouble caused by the pandemic, according to The Associated Press. France has one of the highest infections and deaths worldwide for the coronavirus.
Indonesia's Health Ministry added more than 13,000 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday which pushed the country over 1 million total cases since the pandemic began. Indonesia has the most total cases of coronavirus in Southeast Asia, according to The Associated Press. The country has also reported 28,468 deaths. Indonesia launched a massive vaccination campaign recently to inoculate two-thirds of the country's population. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has already received an initial dose. Health care workers, military, police, teachers, and at-risk population are being given the vaccine first in the country. Nearly 437 million doses of the vaccine will need to be used for the country to curb the pandemic, according to officials. Jakarta is the hardest hit city in Indonesia, with more than 254,000 total cases and 4,077 deaths. Watch the video below for more.
Despite the bone-chilling cold around New York City, life continues along the streets of the Big Apple with some still dining outdoors. The pandemic has left the city devoid of tourists and caused many restrictions to be put in place for restaurants. One of these restrictions has forced restaurants to serve food outside, even through the icy wind and low temperatures. Outdoor dining was very popular during the summer months, causing worry about how the restaurant industry would keep attracting customers once the weather turned colder. While restaurant traffic has dwindled, it has not gone away completely, according to The New York Times. Loyal patrons remain determined to help save a restaurant by braving the winter weather to support their favorite estabishments. Many restaurants have utilized patio heaters to try and keep customers as warm as possible.
With doubt starting to grow about the feasibility of the rescheduled 2020 Summer Olympics happening in Tokyo later this year, officials in Florida are volunteering to bring the Games to the Sunshine State if necessary. According to AFP, Florida's chief financial officer Jimmy Patronis has sent a letter to International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach. In the letter, Patronis said he was looking to "encourage" Bach to consider relocating the Olympics from Tokyo to the United States "and more specifically to Florida." "With media reports of leaders in Japan 'privately' concluding that they are too concerned about the pandemic for the 2021 Olympics to take place, there is still time to deploy a site selection team to Florida," Patronis said.
Patronis' letter cited the fact that Florida has led a robust vaccination roll-out and that the state has hosted numerous sporting events throughout the pandemic. Patronis also reminded Bach that major theme parks such as Disney World are open. "Whatever precautions are required let's figure it out and get it done," Patronis said, according to AFP.
The World Health Organization on Tuesday said that delaying a second shot of Moderna's coronavirus would be acceptable in some situations. According to AFP, the global health agency's vaccine advisory group had previously said it was "best to respect the tested intervals between doses of 21 days in the case of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 28 days for Moderna." However, due to limited vaccine supplies around the world, some countries are delaying the second dose to inoculate more people with an initial dose. The WHO said earlier this month that in "exceptional circumstances" it was possible to wait for up to 42 days to give the second dose of either Moderna's or Pfizer's vaccine.
Hospital worker Alma Garibay mops the floor of a COVID-19 unit at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
The coronavirus surge that began during the fall and accelerated into winter is finally showing some signs of abating in the U.S., according to national statistics. Reuters reported that for the week ending on Jan. 24, new cases of COVID-19 had dropped by 21%. Some 1.2 million cases were reported across the nation last week, down from 1.5 million the previous week. And 49 of the 50 states reported a decline in new cases with only New Hampshire seeing an increase over the previous week’s numbers. Fatalities were also down, but not as dramatically. More than 21,000 deaths were reported last week, down 6.6% from the previous week’s numbers, according to Reuters. The national death toll stood at more than 421,000 as of Tuesday morning. And hospitalizations trended downward as well, with a 7.5% decrease in the average number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 for the seven-day period. Globally, the cumulative caseload is just on the verge of reaching 100 million with more than 2.1 million deaths and more than 55 million recovered, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.
The emergence of new variants in Britain, South Africa and Brazil has sparked some concern that mutations in the virus may make vaccines less effective, however, Moderna is optimistic in its product. On Monday Moderna said it believes its coronavirus vaccine also protects against new variants found in Britain and South Africa, although the company is set to test a new booster shot aimed at the South Africa variant. The company said that it found no reduction in the antibody response against the variant found in Britain, however, they found a reduced response in the South Africa variant. “It is a little worrisome that you see a lesser neutralizing antibody response, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are unprotected,” said Dr. Paul Offit, an infectious disease expert at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory panel. “The goal of this vaccine is to keep you out of the hospital and to keep you out of the morgue. If you get a symptomatic infection or mildly symptomatic infection that is not a burden to the healthcare system,” Offit said.
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