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Brazil has confirmed more than 11 million cases of COVID-19, the third-highest total of any country in the world after India and the U.S., and now the country is seeking out more vaccines. On Monday, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro spoke with Pfizer to purchase millions of shots and has scheduled a meeting to talk with with Janssen to try and secure some of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines, Reuters said. This would be in addition to the 200 million doses of the AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines that the country has already ordered. “Mass vaccination is the government’s number one priority,” Brazil’s Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said. “We are going to vaccinate and keep the economy moving.”So far, less than 4% of the country’s population has received a jab amid a long-duration second wave of the virus.
One full year after Italy became the first country in Europe to go on lockdown, Italy surpassed the grim milestone of 100,000 deaths from COVID-19. Italy has the second-highest death toll in Europe just after Britain, according to the Associated Press. On Monday, the Italian Health Ministry said 318 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the number of deaths to 100,103. Last week, Italy’s positive coronavirus cases hit more than 3 million, with almost 14,000 new positives recorded Monday as the number of people in ICUs rose. Italy’s lockdown to slow the spread last March lasted for seven weeks and included a shutdown of all non-essential manufacturing, the Associated Press reported.
Starting next week, anyone in Florida that is at least 60 years old will be eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Monday. Currently, the vaccine age requirement is set at 65, butlowering it by just 5 years will open up eligibility to 1.4 more million Floridians, according to The Associated Press. Vaccines are also available to health care workers, teachers, first responders and people 16 and older who are at a heightened risk of severe complications from COVID-19. Nearly 6 million vaccines have been distributed across Florida with 17.3% of the state’s population receiving at least one dose of a vaccine, according to the CDC’s COVID data tracker.
Wyoming plans to lift the state’s mask mandate next week, according to Gov. Mark Gordon’s office. Beginning on March 16, Wyoming will also allow bars, restaurants, theaters and gyms to resume normal operations, according to the Casper Star Tribune. “I thank the people of Wyoming for their commitment to keeping one another safe throughout this pandemic,” Gordon said in a statement. “It is through their efforts that we have kept our schools and businesses operating and our economy moving forward. I ask all Wyoming citizens to continue to take personal responsibility for their actions and stay diligent as we look ahead to the warmer months and to the safe resumption of our traditional spring and summer activities.” Infections in the state peaked in November. Medical experts say local mask mandates, as well as the statewide mandate, were part of the reason the numbers were able to go down. The state’s been loosening restrictions over the past two months due to improving case counts. "With this approach we can have graduations, proms and a great end to the school year by keeping schools open. Especially since our children will not have the chance to be vaccinated this spring,” Gordon said.
On Thursday, President Joe Biden is set to deliver the first prime time address of his presidency on the one year anniversary since coronavirus lockdown measures began in the United States. Biden will “discuss the many sacrifices the American people have made over the last year and the grave loss communities and families across the country have suffered,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Monday, according to The New York Times. Psaki said Biden’s speech will be forward-looking and will highlight “the role that Americans will play” in getting the country “back to normal.” The president spoke with assembled Veterans Affairs officials about the improvements in vaccine distribution, The New York Times reported. “We’re really warping the speed now,” Biden told the officials. “We’re doing pretty good across the country. We’re going to hit 100 million soon.”
Some bars and businesses across Texas are planning to open their doors at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday when the state’s coronavirus restrictions, including the mask mandate, are set to expire, NBC News said. These ‘mask off’ parties are raising concerns with health officials as they could cause a spike in cases as people congregate indoors without face coverings. “I stand with healthcare workers, Council Member Robinson, State Rep. Ann Johnson and others to denounce businesses planning “mask off” parties to celebrate the governor’s decision to end the mask mandate,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeted on Sunday. Last week, Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott announced that Texas would open 100% on Wednesday, March 10 and the statewide mask mandate would end due to the falling number of cases and slow but steady vaccination efforts. To date, Texas has reported nearly 2.7 million cases of COVID-19, the second-highest total in the U.S. behind California, according to Johns Hopkins University. Additionally, around 2.3 million Texans, or 8.2% of the state’s population, are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Fans will be in the stands when the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox play their first home games of the 2021 MLB season next month. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Monday that due to the dropping positivity rate in the Windy City, which Lightfoot revealed was 2.8%, fans would be able to attend games next month at Wrigley Field and Guaranteed Rate Field. Both stadiums will only be filled to 20% capacity. That means around 8,274 fans will be allowed into Cubs games at the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, while 8,122 will be allowed to enter Guaranteed Rate Field, located on the city's South Side. The White Sox will open their home schedule on April 8, while the Cubs will do so on April 1, ESPN reported.
As countries around the world went into lockdown, 54-year-old John Hollis watched his housemate come down with a severe case of COVID-19. The University of Virginia alumnus was nervous that he too would catch the virus and fall ill to the severe side effects, but little did he know that his body had produced rare ‘super antibodies.’ Now, doctors think that he could help many more people in the fight against COVID-19.
Hollis was infected with COVID-19 during the early stages of the pandemic, but he never felt sick and did not discover that he was infected until months later. “It wasn’t until later in July that I found out that not only had I contracted the virus in late March but that I had the super antibodies in my blood that made me permanently immune,” Hollis said in an interview with the BBC. “I’m immune to all strains of the virus right now.” When doctors discovered Hollis’s exceptionally strong immune system, they were fascinated. According to the University of Virginia Today, his blood could be diluted 10,000 times and it would still be able to kill 90% of the virus. “It’s a gold mine to study different ways of attacking the virus,” Dr. Lance Liotta of George Mason University told the BBC. Learn more about Hollis’s super antibodies in the video below.
Japan residents in need of getting a COVID-19 test in a pinch have been able to find one via a number of vending machines set up around the country. Instead of going to crowded hospitals or clinics, citizens have been able to simply pick one up without an appointment, Hideki Takemura, director of the Laketown Takenoko Ear Nose and Throat Clinic in the Tokyo area, told Reuters. “Japan was conducting a ridiculously low number of PCR tests and as a result more and more people couldn’t tell whether they had a cold or the coronavirus,” Takemura said. “Without PCR tests, no diagnosis is possible and I really felt we had to do more so that people could be diagnosed early and isolate early.”
After picking up the tests, residents then mail off a saliva sample for processing. The machines proved very popular early on with some needing to be emptied of money twice per day, Reuters said. Demand has since ebbed a bit as a recent surge in cases has slowed. Japan has reported 439,356 confirmed cases of the virus and more than 8,200 deaths over the course of the pandemic per Johns Hopkins University. Watch the video below for more.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas takes off his mask to speak during a press briefing at the White House, Monday, March 1, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
In an update to its vaccination guidelines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that those who have been fully vaccinated can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask. The CDC also said the vaccinated individuals can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from another household, such as relatives who all live together, unless one of those people has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. “We know that people want to get vaccinated so they can get back to doing the things they enjoy with the people they love,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement, according to The Associated Press.
Those who have been inoculated are still encouraged to take precautions in public, such as wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, the CDC says. Delaying domestic and international travel, or avoiding it altogether, is also still recommended for those who have received a vaccine.
The first coronavirus vaccine doses in Vietnam have been given to health-care workers and other key workers on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19. According to The Associated Press, the first shots were given on Monday to health workers, contact tracers and security forces who were in charge of managing quarantine duties. Vietnam officials hope to vaccinate half of the population by the end of the year. Around 96 million live in the country. Vietnam received over 100,000 doses of AstraZenca's vaccine over two weeks ago and has ordered 30 million doses in total. Vietnam officials are also negotiating with Pfizer for 30 million doses of the vaccine the drugmaker created with German company BioNTech, the AP said. “I have been waiting for this day for a long time,” nurse Nguyen Thi Huyen said to the AP after receiving the jab. “I hope the vaccine will be available for everyone so we can contain the virus and get back to normal life,” she said.
One of the last places on Earth with a reported case of the novel coronavirus is no longer virus-free. The South Pacific island of New Caledonia is now going into a strict lockdown after nine cases were reported on Sunday, according to AFP. The outbreak has been linked to a school teacher who became ill on the Wallis and Futuna islands, which is a separately French territory in the Pacific. Travel had previously been unrestricted between the two island territories, but anyone arriving from either island would have been forced to quarantine for 14 days, AFP said. "According to the first indications, the patient developed symptoms in mid-February and could have been infectious in Wallis and Futuna from the end of January," Thierry Santa the head of the local government in New Caledonia, said according to AFP. The new lockdown will go in place for two weeks to "break the transmission of the virus while there is still time," Santa said.
New Caledonia is also recovering from powerful Tropical Cyclone Niran. Cleanup efforts are underway after the storm left behind a mess despite not making landfall in the territory. As Niran passed near southern New Caledonia early on Saturday, it weakened to a Category 3 severe tropical cyclone or the equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane in the Atlantic or East Pacific basins. The storm was still strong enough to send hundreds into evacuation shelters.
Following Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's decision last week to drop the state's mandatory mask mandate and reopen the state "100%" beginning this Wednesday, some restaurants are finding themselves in a tough spot. As long as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend wearing masks to limit the risk of COVID-19 spread, several Houston restaurant owners interviewed by AFP will continue to require that customers wear face coverings. "We are not going to change anything that we are doing," Matthew Pak the owner of The Taco Stand, told AFP. "We are going to require all our staff and customers to wear masks, continue sanitizing, keeping everything extra, extra clean, social distancing as much as we can enforce," Pak noted that none of his employees have received a dose of one of the three available coronavirus vaccines.
Richard Orozco, the co-owner of Piper's BBQ & Beer, called it a "no-win situation" for restaurants. "If we choose to enforce the mask policy, there's going to be vocal critics about that. If we say no mask, there'll probably be even more vocal critics," he noted. "It really puts us in a tough spot.
Total coronavirus-related fatalities reported across the U.S. trended down on Sunday, with just 669 total deaths tallied by researchers at Johns Hopkins University. The total death toll in the U.S. stands at more than 525,000. Total daily cases also declined on Sunday, with just a little more than 40,000 recorded nationwide, however the seven-day positivity rate moving average ticked up a bit to nearly 6%, after having been as low as 4.20% last week. For a closer look at the states that tallied the most new cases on Sunday and other data surrounding the spread of the virus around the country and world, watch the video below.
Confirmed cases: 116,810,913
New York City aims to vaccinate 5 million people by June, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at a new vaccination site in the Bronx on Saturday. "Bronx is going to help lead the way, lead the way in the recovery of New York City," he said. At the new site's busiest point, it will be able to vaccinate 1,000 people each day, ABC 7 News reported. So far, 3 million New Yorkers have already been vaccinated.
Global coronavirus cases are on the rise again, and could be heading toward a fourth wave of infection. Last week, total reported cases across the world increased, according to The Hill. “This is disappointing, but not surprising,” World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “This is a global crisis that requires a consistent and coordinated global response.” In addition, the easing of mask madates and social distancing guidelines has led many experts to be concerned another surge is on its way in the U.S. “We could not have made a more wonderful environment for this virus to take off than we have right now,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Prevention at the University of Minnesota. “We are not driving this tiger, we’re riding it. And the first time we may be able to drive it is with widespread use of the vaccine, and we’re not there yet.”
Many Americans are forgoing wearing masks during the coronavirus pandemic, despite the fact that the B.1.1.7 variant that was originally discovered in the U.K. is spreading rapidly through the country. The variant is now in at least 46 states and Washington, D.C., according to CNN. Some research suggests that it is 59% to 74% more transmissible than the original coronavirus. ”That strain is increasing exponentially. It's spiking up," said Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious diseases specialist and epidemiologist. "So we are probably right now on a tipping point of another surge."
Adults and children threw face masks into a fire on Saturday as part of an anti-mask protest outside the Idaho State Capitol Building in Boise. The mask burning protest was attended by both citizens and politicians including Idaho's Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, Insider reports. While burning the masks people could be heard chanting ”we don't want them in our lives" as well as "smell the freedom, baby.”
It is “probable” American high school students will receive the coronavirus vaccine this year, Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on Sunday. “I think it's probable that we will be vaccinating high school kids at some point this year,” Gottlieb said, according to The Hill. “One of the vaccines, the Pfizer vaccine — I'm on board of that company — is already approved down at 16. There's studies underway with all the vaccines looking at younger age populations with their vaccines and so I think we'll be in a position to be ready to vaccinate a high school age population sometime this fall.” Gottlieb, along with director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, said it is “unlikely” for grade school children to also receive the vaccine this year. Fauci said they may receive the vaccine in 2022.
An Issaquah School District school bus waits at an intersection near where a rally to encourage wider opening of in-person learning was being held, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, in Issaquah, Wash., east of Seattle. Students in kindergarten and lower-elementary grades recently returned to school in the district under a hybrid in-person learning program, but older elementary, middle-, and high school students are still being taught remotely. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
One in four Americans are struggling with finances one year into the pandemic, according to a report released on Friday from the Pew Research Center. In addition, about half of all adults that have not yet retired have reported that the pandemic impacted their ability to reach their financial goals. According to CBS News, one of those financial goals is retirement, with about 25% of people over 50 reporting that they have delayed or expect to delay their own retirement due to the pandemic. Many low-income workers’ jobs were impacted during the pandemic as well, with half of low-income workers losing either their job or some pay. One-third of upper-income workers lost either their jobs or pay.
"The truth is I could come up with no real answers other than perhaps God has a plan for me," said 54-year-old John Hollis after finding out that his antibodies have maintained at least 90% of their strength nine months after he had the virus. "Or maybe I'm just lucky as hell." Hollis, the communications manager at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, learned that his blood is fortified with so-called super antibodies that neutralize the virus, which, even when diluted 10,000 times, still resists the coronavirus. Hollis is in a rare category of people whose blood could help scientists understand the coronavirus and potentially treat those who contract the virus, according to Dr. Lance Liotta, a George Mason University pathologist and bioengineer who is leading the school's clinical trials on antibodies. Liotta said it seems the coronavirus cannot harm him, NBC News reports. "Through John and others, we have been propelled into exciting new science," Liotta said. "Learning about his antibodies offers us new ways to fight Covid." As part of their trials, Liotta and his team will understand exponentially better how to kill the coronavirus and mass-produce antibodies for the general population to protect it from the virus, like the drug Regeneron, which President Donald Trump took after he announced that he had tested positive in early October, NBC News reported.
Since vaccine distribution began in the U.S. on Dec. 14, more than 57 million people have received at least 1 dose of the vaccine, reaching 17.3% of the total U.S. population. Of the 57 million who have received the first dose, only 29 million have received the second dose. More than 116 million vaccine doses have been delivered, according to federal data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A field of 47 mushers will start their voyage through Alaska on Sunday for the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, but the event will be much different than years past. Typically, the race starts ceremoniously in Anchorage before mushers navigate the bitterly cold Alaskan wilderness, occasionally passing through communities that serve as checkpoints. However, much of this has been eliminated this year due to the coronavirus with the mushers and their dogs taking a much different path, avoiding many stops along the way, Reuters reported. The field is also smaller than normal since some prospective participants were not able to clear the coronavirus protocols.
Despite the pandemic, the race goes on. Even with mushers and race organizers facing major challenges to pull off the event, canceling was not an option, the Iditarod’s chief executive Rod Urbach said, according to Reuters.The race this year will be about 100 miles shorter than years past and will be an out-and-back, rather than a one-way journey. The 47 mushers that were able to make it to Alaska for the race will be greeted with some of the best conditions in years. “We’ve had a really good winter, the best we’ve had in a long time,” said Leifseth Ulsom, a past Iditarod champion.
Confirmed cases: 116,463,253
While nearly 83 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered throughout the U.S., health experts and community leaders are growing concerned over equity in access when the vaccine program eventually expands to pharmacies. While 90% of Americans live within 3 miles of chain pharmacy, others live in areas called food and health care deserts, lacking a single grocery store or pharmacy in close range,” Dr. James Hildreth, president and CEO of Meharry Medical College and member of President Biden’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, told ABC News. In fact, there are 150 counties across the U.S. that do not have a pharmacy, and 4.8 millions people live in a county where there is only one pharmacy for every 10,000 residents or more, according to an ABC News analysis. In short, this means that people living in these pharmacy deserts could have fewer options to get vaccinated when the U.S. begins to vaccinate the general public, health experts say.
The U.S. Senate approved President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan on Saturday that will provide Americans who qualify a direct payment of $1,400. The decision took 24 hours of debate and the final vote was 50-49, NPR reported. In addition to the direct payments for eligible Americans, the relief package will also extend supplemental unemployment benefits and increase the child tax credit.
Coronavirus vaccines are still very limited across the U.S. making it difficult for people to get vaccinated, but a group of people is volunteering their time to help those who are struggling to book an appointment. These Good Samaritans are called ‘vaccine hunters.’
“I spent a good month pretty much going at it all hours of the day - you know, early in the mornings, late in the evenings,” Carl Cimini told the BBC. He even had alerts on his phone to tell him when appointments may be available, but even with that Cimini was not able to get the jab. He ultimately enlisted the help of a ‘vaccine hunter’ named Kevin Hayes who used a computer program to find and book a vaccine appointment for Cimini. “Even myself, with a modest amount of computer knowledge and ability, I had to basically recruit a young lad to run the show because I couldn’t get an appointment,” Cimini told the BBC. Watch the full interview below to learn more about how ‘vaccine hunters’ are helping people get vaccinated:
The Dalai Lama, who is an 85-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader, received his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine on Saturday, The Associated Press reported. In addition to receiving his first dose, he encouraged others to get vaccinated as well. “In order to prevent some serious problems, this injection is very, very helpful,” he said. After the shot was administered, a hospital worker said he was observed for 30 minutes. Ten other people who live in his residence also received the first shot of the vaccine.
Spring break in Florida has kicked off despite the pandemic, and a lack of social distancing is not bothering the students who traveled from all over the U.S. to partake in the festivities, Fox News reported. One traveler from Michigan told The Sun Sentinel of South Florida that he was not concerned because the people on spring break are “not in the at-risk group.” While some business owners are excited about the return of spring break and the customers that come with it, medical experts have expressed concern over the potential outcome of so many people traveling to party. “With crowding, particularly within bars and without masks, there is a high risk that visitors will acquire the infection and take it back home," said Dr. J. Glenn Morris Jr., director of the Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida. Morris said Florida has one of the highest rates for variant strains of the coronavirus in the U.S.
Despite concerns from medical experts, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said he believes the concerns are blown out of proportion, and that most businesses are following COVID-19 safety guidelines. "People will always find random evidence of non-compliance and make it appear that’s the norm," he said. "Most people are aware of the rules and obey the rules. We have beaches and open-air environments, and open-air environments are not considered to be putting people at risk. I think people should spend more time focusing than trying to play gotcha with other people visiting our community."
More than one year since the coronavirus outbreak started, millions of Americans are still out of jobs which led banks to see an increase in savings rates. Wealthy people, who typically spend money on travel and entertainment, are now stuck at home and forced to give up leisure spending, leading to even more savings in the bank, according to France 24. Americans have accumulated $1.8 trillion in excess savings in the 11 months since the start of the pandemic, according to figures released this week by Barclays and Oxford Economics.
For most areas in the U.S., entering Phase 2 of the vaccination program probably means opening up vaccine eligibility to a few more people of the local population. But for Gila County in Arizona, located east of Phoenix, Phase 2 means everyone. Due to the area’s low percentage of vaccine usage, local health officials told CBS News that the vaccine availability was opened to everyone over the age of 18 in order to increase interest and distribution. "Prior to that, we were struggling to find enough people to make appointments to that, so the state gave me permission to offer it to any resident 18 and older," Michael O’Driscoll, director of the county’s Public Health and Emergency Management, said. "We did a survey before to get a sense of how many people in Gila County would consider getting the vaccine, and our survey came back about 50-60% of the residents would choose to get the vaccine if available.”
The number of births across the U.S. has been slowly but steadily declining in recent years, and a new study suggests that the trend will continue through the pandemic. Around 300,000 fewer babies are expected in 2021, the BBC reported, citing a study by Brookings Institution think tank. One factor behind this prognostication is the unstable job market due to the pandemic. "When the labour market is weak, aggregate birth rates decline; when the labour market improves, birth rates improve," the authors of the study said. The economic cost of having a child during the pandemic has also given some couples pause about getting pregnant, the BBC reported. The official birth data for the U.S. is not expected to be released until later this year.
A nurse holds a 11-day-old baby boy infected with COVID-19, who arrived just four days after his birth at the intensive care unit of the Prof. Dr. Feriha Oz Emergency Hospital, after feeding him in Istanbul, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020. The hospital is a new infirmary offering some of the most advanced intensive care treatment in the country. When the pandemic first struck, Turkey was credited for quickly bringing infection rates under control. It is now seeing an explosion in COVID-19 cases that is putting a serious strain on its health system.(AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
The Big Apple's cinemas reopened on Friday, one year after they were abruptly closed by officials on March 17. "Oh my God, I'm so excited to be back. I'm not working so I gotta have something to do!" movie enthusiast Cindy B told AFP. Cinemas were allowed to reopen when Governor Andrew Cuomo announced they must operate at 25 percent capacity or with no more than 50 people per screen. Inside the movie theatre, social distancing and mask-wearing are mandatory. AMC has installed special air filters and is disinfecting each auditorium between screenings.
More than half of U.S. seniors aged 65 or older have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. The growing number of vaccinated individuals has put a growing stress on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to release official guidelines pertaining to what people can safely do after receiving the vaccine, NBC News reported. Despite vaccinations rising in the U.S. with 2 million administered on Thursday alone, new cases are now hovering at a steady pace after what was a decline. "These are complex issues and the science is rapidly evolving," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. "CDC is working to ensure that the communications we release on this guidance are clear. We are making sure, and taking the time, to get this right."
As spring approaches and vaccine programs gain momentum, apparel sales trends are showing that some Americans are ready to trade in sweat pants for “go-out fashion.” Apparel sales dropped by 19% last year, according to market researcher The NPD Group, CNBC reported. The drop came as Americans stayed home, their spending habits focusing on groceries and household essentials rather than new clothes to go-out in. However, Anthropologie’s website went from seeing dresses rarely breaking into the top 10 selling items once or twice to seeing seven dresses on the list during the last week of February — a positive change, according to Urban Outfitters CEO Richard Hayne. Anthropology is a unit of Urban Outfitters. “Up until recently, the fashion predominantly has been… casual and home comfortable,” Hayne told CNBC. “We’re beginning to see — what I’m calling ‘go-out fashion’ start to take hold. The apparel business will be in for a change in terms of what categories we sell.”
Jamaica is changing its travel restrictions to now require a negative coronavirus test from all travelers within three days of the trip. The new rule goes into effect on March 10, Fox News reported. It only applies to travelers over the age of 12. The negative coronavirus tests will need to be shown to an airline representative during the check-in process for the flight. The previous restrictions for the country required travelers show a negative coronavirus test within 10 days of the trip.
The recent approval of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine is opening doors for new ways that people in the U.S. can get vaccinated, NBC News reported. Because the previous vaccinations approved in the U.S. required cold storage and two doses, officials were limited in how they could administer the vaccines. “We want to make sure they can complete the vaccination series,” Albert Peguero, manager of emergency preparedness for Bristol Health in Connecticut, said. “When you go out into the community to find people to vaccinate, it can be a logistical challenge to go out two or three weeks alter and find them again.” With the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine, government agencies and healthcare providers across the country have more leeway and plan to use experimental vaccine administration in their jurisdictions. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city plans to devote a lot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines to mobile clinics made for homebound senior citizens. “This is one of the very best uses for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” he said.
Depending on the age, some teenagers could begin getting vaccinated soon in the U.S. The Pfizer vaccine has been cleared for peopled age 16 or older, and some high schoolers with medical conditions or who live in areas with availability could be next in line to receive the vaccine, The Associated Press reported. In addition, Pfizer and Moderna have finalized enrollment for studies involving children ages 12 and older, and the data should be available at some point this summer. Vaccinations with younger children become more complicated, which is why trials start with older children first, as younger children can have different responses or require different dose sizes. “It’s unlikely we could get community protection without immunizing children,” Drexel University pediatrics professor Dr. Sarah Long said. “This is the lynchpin to getting everything back to some kind of normalcy.”
The AstraZeneca vaccine may be effective against the coronavirus variant P1 discovered in Brazil, according to some preliminary data from a study conducted at the University of Oxford. The data suggests the vaccine will not require modification to be effective against the variant, an anonymous source told Reuters. According to the source, the full results of the study could possibly be released this month. Earlier study results suggested the AstraZeneca vaccine was less effective against the variant discovered in South Africa, which led to the country halting the use of the vaccine entirely.
More than 1 million Wisconsin residents have received their 1st dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, equating to 17.6% of the state’s total population. The announcement came from Gov. Tony Evers on Friday, The Associated Press reported. Among that one million, 570,000 people in the state have been fully vaccinated. Wisconsin’s vaccinations puts the state at 18th place nationwide for coronavirus vaccinations. Next week, the first shipment of Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccines is scheduled to arrive in the state containing 48,000 doses.
The excitement for the new Johnson & Johnson vaccination option wasn’t shared by all this week. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said during a news conference this week that the city would be turning down an initial allocation of the vaccine because it is only “a very good vaccine” but not as effective as Moderna and Pfizer’s. "So, Johnson & Johnson is a very good vaccine. Moderna and Pfizer are the best. And I am going to do everything I can to make sure the residents of the City of Detroit get the best," Duggan said, according to CNN. The Food and Drug Administration announced last weekend the J&J vaccine was found to be 72% effective in the US, while Pfizer and Moderna were previously found to be 95% effective. The J&J vaccine is also manufactured in Michigan, just 2 hours away in Grand Rapids, and has been proven to be highly effective at preventing serious illness from COVID-19.
Despite the demand for dosages being far higher than the supply of vaccines, Duggan said he is committed to keeping the third vaccine option on the back burner for the time being. "The day may come in March or April when every single Moderna and Pfizer is committed, and we still have people who need a vaccine. And at that point we will set up a Johnson & Johnson center. I don't see that in the next couple of weeks," he said.
Two days after Texas and Mississippi announced that they would be ending mask mandates, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey extended the state’s current mask mandate by one month. The mandate was set to expire next week, but is now expected to come to an end on April 9, The Associated Press reported. “We need to get past Easter and hopefully allow more Alabamians to get their first shot before we take a step some other states have taken to remove the mask order altogether and lift other restrictions,” Ivey said on Thursday during a press conference. As of Thursday, 14% of the state’s total population had received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to the CDC. Ivey encouraged people that they should still take proper measures to remain safe and healthy as the restrictions are loosened across the state. “Even when we lift the mask order, I will continue to wear my mask while I’m around others and strongly urge my fellow citizens to use common sense and do the same,” Ivey added.
The search for a mystery person who tested positive for the coronavirus variant P1, which originated in Brazil, has been identified, the BBC reported on Friday. On Feb. 26, U.K. health officials discovered three people that tested positive for the variant, but one of the people did not give all of their information when taking the test, Dr. Susan Hopkins of Public Health England said. An investigation was opened to find this mystery person that ultimately lead to the individual being identified on Wednesday, March 3. “This individual has been interviewed extensively and lives within a household that had recently returned from Brazil, and who had all quarantined at home,” Hopkins said. The neighborhood around the individual is being tested to determine if the variant has been transmitted in the community.
On Friday, Canadian health officials gave the green light to the Johnson & Johnson one-dose coronavirus vaccine, the fourth vaccine that the country has approved, The Associated Press reported. “This is the fourth vaccine to deemed safe by Canada’s health experts — and with millions of doses already secured, we’re one step closer to defeating this virus,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a tweet. Canada is now the first country in the world to prove four different vaccines for the virus, having recently approved those developed by Pfizer, Modern and AstraZeneca.
However, it may be some time before the first shots from Johnson & Johnson make it into the arms of Canadians. The country is not producing vaccines of its own, so it is relying on supplies from other countries. According to the AP, Canada has pre-ordered 10 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but it is unclear when they will arrive as the U.S. is not yet allowing its vaccines to be exported. Canada also has an option to order an additional 28 million vaccines after the initial 10 million are shipped.
As more data continues to show that low-income and minority groups in California are being severely impacted by COVID-19, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Thursday that 40% of the next batch of vaccines will be for people living in the state’s poorer zip codes. “Households earning over $120,000 have twice the access to vaccines than those communities that have been disproportionately impacted,” Newsom said, according to AFP. Out of the 10 million vaccine doses given to the state of 40 million residents, just 1.6 million have gone to Californians in the poorest quarter of regions. No other state in the country has seen as many deaths as California, whose 53,000 fatalities make up over 10% of the nation’s world-leading total.
Of their total cases, over 3.5 million, Latino populations account for over half of the infections. "That disproportionately has fallen on the Latino community in the state of California -- African-American community, yes, but disproportionately even more so on the Latino community in California," said Newsom.
A more contagious variant of the coronavirus, B.1.1.7, has spread across the U.K. and into other countries around the world in recent weeks, but now, health officials are monitoring the spread of yet another variant. The change is being called E484K and was first identified in the U.K. on Feb. 15, the BBC reported. More than a dozen individuals tested positive for this variant that experts believe originated in the country and could evade some immunity that the body builds up after receiving a coronavirus vaccine. For the time being, Public Health England has placed this new variation on the country’s watch list and has stated that they are not immediately concerned, the BBC said.
More than 67,000 new coronavirus cases were tallied across the country on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers, the second day in a row new infections ticked upward. Total cumulative cases in the U.S. are inching toward 29 million of the more than 115 million global cases. More than 65 million of those infected with COVID-19 have recovered globally. For a closer look at the data surrounding the spread of the virus, watch the video below.
Delta Air Lines is providing bonuses to managers within the company spanning from a few thousand dollars to more than $100,000 to make up for pay cuts that were made at the beginning of the pandemic— while frontline workers within the company receive no bonuses at all. Delta received billions of dollars in federal aid last year, according to NBC News. Thousands of workers’ hours were cut by 25% in the company last year due to the lack of travel demands amid the pandemic and 18,000 employees were either bought out or accepted early retirement packages, which helped the company avoid furloughs.
“While all Delta people were affected by the worst year in our history, following a comprehensive pay review of all levels in our organization below the executive officer level, we identified levels that were disproportionately impacted as a result of last year’s events and made a one-time adjustment payment,” Delta said in a statement. The pilots’ union was critical of the bonuses provided to managers within the company. “While we are confident that Delta will recover quickly once the country comes through the pandemic, the payment of special bonuses to management while the airline is still burning cash is premature and inappropriate,” said Chris Riggins, spokesman for the Air Line Pilots Association.
The number of new cases of COVID-19 is starting to increase across Europe, a reverse in course following six consecutive weeks of decline, according to AFP. "Last week, new cases of COVID-19 in Europe rose 9% to just above 1 million,” WHO Europe's regional director Hans Kluge said. "We are seeing a resurgence in central and Eastern Europe. New cases are also on the rise in several western European countries where rates were already high," he added. As the number of new cases across the continent starts to trend upward, so too does the spread of three variants. The U.K. variant B.1.1.7 has been reported in 43 counties, the South African variant B.1.351 has been identified in 26 countries and the Brazil variant P1 has been identified in 15 countries, according to the World Health Organization. These variants may be more contagious than the novel coronavirus that initially spread around the globe.
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center began administering its first doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the first one-shot coronavirus vaccine to receive US approval, this week. The doses administered at the Wexner Medical Center were some of the first in the country. “We’re thrilled to have the J&J vaccine as another tool in our toolbox,” Dr. Andrew Thomas, chief clinical officer of the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, said. “We think there’s a group of patients that have been sitting on the sidelines and not getting vaccinated up until now because they’ve been waiting for a single-dose vaccine.” He said they had “no trouble” in finding people willing to receive the vaccine, with many saying they were waiting for an opportunity for a single-dose vaccine. “I was scared to death at first and I got the shot and I just felt a little bit of warmth, and then all of a sudden it was like… the weight was lifted off of me,” one person who received the vaccine said.
Five of 789 U.S. professional athletes infected with COVID-19 were later found to have suffered inflammatory heart disease, according to ESPN. In this study, what is now the largest study to date on the cardiac impact of the virus in sports, doctors across six U.S.-based leagues kept tabs on 789 infected players from May to October, 2020. Before returning to the fields or courts, the athletes underwent three noninvasive tests surrounding their hearts’ health. Of the 30 athletes who had abnormal test results, five were diagnosed cases of inflammatory heart disease — three of which were identified as myocarditis and two as pericarditis. The five athletes were not identified for the purpose of the study.
Social distancing appears to be missing at a coastal resort in Quintana Roo, Mexico, located near Cancun. A video from AFP reveals tourists enjoying the beach and playing volleyball. Despite over 185,000 people in the country having died from COVID-19 so far in the pandemic, Mexico has left its borders open without closing them once. The country has also never required negative coronavirus tests from travelers and was the third most-visited country in 2020. Some hotels are offering free stays to visitors who become infected while on vacation in an attempt to bring in more business.
A second variant of COVID-19 has been discovered in the U.K., The BBC reports. Public Health England has labeled the new discovery as a 'variant under investigation,’ meaning it is one they are not immediately concerned about but is being monitored on their watch list. Scientists have discovered 16 cases of the new variant in the U.K. so far, which were first discovered on Feb. 15. The mutations of the variant shows some similarities to the variants first discovered in South Africa and Brazil. The individuals who tested positive and their close contacts discovered through tracing have been advised to isolate
San Diego Zoo orangutans and bonobos have received an experimental COVID-19 vaccine specifically formulated for animals. The vaccinations make them the first non-human primates to get vaccinated for COVID-19, according to CBS News. One of the orangutans named Karen has made history before for being the first ape in the world to receive open-heart surgery in 1994. The group of primates to receive their vaccines consisted of four orangutans and five bonobos. They each received two doses of a vaccine developed by the company Zoetis. "This isn't the norm. In my career, I haven't had access to an experimental vaccine this early in the process and haven't had such an overwhelming desire to want to use one," Nadine Lamberski, chief conservation and wildlife health officer at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, said.
Schools and stores have shuttered across Hungary as the country imposes a new round of lockdowns, Reuters reported. The latest restrictions come as the third wave of the virus sweeps the nation. “The third wave (of the pandemic) is strong, very strong and worse than the second wave had been,” said Gergely Gulyas, the chief of staff for Prime Minister Viktor Orban. On Thursday, Hungary reported 6,278 new cases of COVID-19, the highest daily total since early December, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University. The lockdowns come as vaccines begin to be administered across the country with Hungary using the Sinopharm vaccine from China and the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia, Reuters reported. “We hope we are in the last phase of the pandemic and we will reach vaccination levels within a few weeks or months that allow a reopening (of the economy), which will start from March 22 in a gradual manner,” Gulyas said.
Patient Susan Maxwell Trumble, left, is inoculated with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine by nurse Jeanine Mucci at South Shore University Hospital, Wednesday, March 3, 2021 in Bay Shore, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
More than 50 million Americans have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and in addition to helping the immune system fend off the virus, the vaccines can cause some notable side effects. In many cases, any vaccine can leave the injection site feeling sore, but the vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna can lead to other side effects. Headache, chills, fever and joint and muscle pain are some side effects in people after receiving one of these vaccines, but, according to a Bloomberg report, experiencing some side effects may actually be a good thing. “In learning to recognize the pathogen, the body goes through the same immune reactions as it would if it had met the pathogen for real, producing many of the same reactions,” said Peter English, a consultant in communicable disease control in the U.K. However, people should not avoid getting vaccinated due to possible side effects as feeling lousy for a day or two after being vaccinated is much better than a longer battle against the virus itself.
Bloomberg noted that people who have had COVID-19 in the past may have more pronounced side effects than those who have not contracted the virus. Additionally, younger adults have reported more systemic reactions to the vaccines than older people who are at least 65 years of age. Watch the video below for more information about the side effects of a coronavirus vaccine.
Hillsborough County, Florida, officials said Wednesday that Super Bowl 55 in Tampa last month did not turn into a super spreader event as had been feared. About 53 cases in Florida and four elsewhere were found to be linked to Super Bowl events, Axios reported, citing the Tampa Bay Times. Hillsborough County reported a slightly higher positivity rate in the weeks after the game with 7.9% of people testing positive locally, compared to 7.3% across the state, according to Axios. One caveat that officials brought up is that a number of people didn't want to share information about their activities around the time of the Super Bowl. "The true number of COVID cases related to this community-wide event is likely much higher," said Michael Wiese, Hillsborough County's leading epidemiologist.
Fashion shows have been given a new look since the pandemic began, forcing walks down the runway to go virtual. As restrictions are lifted and events like fashion shows are able to be held again, traditional fashion events may be forever changed. “Digital first is absolutely something that we will continue to see,” British Fashion Council Chief Executive Caroline Rush told Reuters. Virtual, pre-recorded shows are not only much cheaper than the big catwalk events during fashion weeks, but they can reach out directly to customers. “There’s been a real shift in the balance of power that was already happening,” said Lauren Sherman, chief correspondent for The Business of Fashion. “We will see physical runway shows from these very large brands who can afford to put on multimillion dollar entertainment events. But they may not be during the traditional fashion week and they may have audiences that are primarily made up of customers.” This type of virtual event can also open the door for companies to pre-record a runway walk in an outdoor, scenic setting when the weather conditions are perfect to accentuate the clothing that is being modeled.
A new coronavirus test is underway in New York, but this test requires a smartphone rather than a nasal swab. A coronavirus passport is being tested in New York that could confirm that a person has either been vaccinated or has recently tested negative for the virus, Fox 5 New York reported. This passport could be either a paper card called the Excelsior Pass or stored on a smartphone app that people can show when traveling, going to a restaurant or attending a sporting event. The passport was first tested on Feb. 27 at a Brooklyn Nets game at Barclays Center. "As we begin reopening the valves on different sectors of our economy, we are putting guidelines in place to ensure individuals attending events involving larger gatherings have tested negative for COVID or have been vaccinated to avoid an outbreak of the virus,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. The use of a COVID passport is still in the testing phase, but it could be a factor as the state slowly eases coronavirus restrictions.
President Joe Biden on Wednesday delivered sharp criticism for the governors of Texas and Mississippi, both of whom announced this week that they are lifting mask mandates in those states. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vowed to open the state “100%” by next week, and Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves did largely the same, declaring that “the governor's office is getting out of the business of telling people what they can and can't do,” according to The Hill. “I think it's a big mistake,” Biden told reporters at the White House.” Look, I hope everybody realizes by now that masks make a big difference. We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because the way in which we are able to get vaccines.” Biden said the loosening of these restrictions is coming at a critical time in the pandemic. “The last thing we need is the Neanderthal thinking that, in the meantime, everything is fine, take off our mask, forget it.” Watch a clip of his remarks below.
As the COVID-19 vaccine supply remains stretched thin, many might experience delays or cancelations in getting second COVID-19 vaccinations, but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says you can delay the second dose for up to six weeks. "The recommended timeline if you received a Pfizer vaccine is to get your second shot around three weeks later. And the recommended timeline for Moderna is to get the second shot around four weeks later,” Dr. Payal Kohli told ABC10. According to Kohli, the CDC does not recommend to intentionally delay receiving the second dose, however, if you're in a pinch, you can delay that second dose up to six weeks. If you are not able to book an appointment for the vaccine from the same manufacturer as your first dose, Kohli does not recommend getting the second dose from a different manufacturer, ABC10 reports. "We don’t yet know whether that’s an appropriate combination. It's something that's under study right now, to mix manufacturers and different types of vaccines,” Kohli told ABC10.
The Japanese government will hold an advisory board meeting on Friday to determine if the state of emergency is necessary in the Tokyo area should be extended due to the coronavirus. The current deadline for the state of emergency is March 7, but a shortage of hospital beds in Tokyo along with a slow decline in cases has caused the deadline to be reconsidered. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said the pace of coronavirus cases has slowed at a rate potentially too slow to lift restrictions, according to Reuters. So far 11 of Japan's 47 prefectures have been put under emergency restrictions until at least March 7.
Amid difficulties securing supplies of COVID-19 vaccines sourced by The European Union, Polish biotech firm Mabion has signed a preliminary agreement to manufacture Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine with financial support from a state-run fund, Reuters reported. Mabion signed a framework agreement with Novavax on Wednesday, and the state-run Polish Development Fund is set to aid Mambion in doubling its production capacity. “The biggest challenge when it comes to the availability of vaccinations is the production capacity,” PFR Chief Executive Pawl Borys told a conference. “This is what all vaccine producers are struggling with and this is the cause of delays. This investment is a direct response to these problems.”
The Brazilian variant of COVID-19 was recently reported in the southwestern part of Oregon — the state’s first reported case of the variant, The Associated Press reported. The Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team told the AP that the case was confirmed Monday night from a swab sent to the CDC for genome sequence testing. Cases of the variant have also been reported in Alaska, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota and Oklahoma. Officials have since recommended people continue to adhere to COVID-19 safety measures as researchers believe variants such as the one first discovered in Brazil and another first reported in the United Kingdom are more transmissible.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to release guidance for Americans who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus later this week, according to Politico. The guidelines indicate the first step back to normalcy — not a leap. The guidelines, which are expected to be released Thursday, will include recommendations for Americans to follow, including keeping social interaction to small gatherings at home with individuals who have also been fully vaccinated. They will also stress vaccinated individuals should continue to wear masks in public and adhere to other public-health measures, like social distancing.
During a press conference on Monday previewing the guidelines, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky stressed that with cases of coronavirus in the U.S. currently up, the goal is not to open up travel or open everything because of scaling up vaccinations, but rather to get to a good place for reopening. “The goal in those first 100 days has always been to sort of make sure that we are in a place to be out of this pandemic,” Walensky said. “At 70,000 cases per day, we’re not in that place right now.”
More than 80 people were arrested in China and South Africa after the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) seized thousands of fake coronavirus vaccines. Some 3,000 doses were found in China and another 2,400 doses were discovered in a warehouse in South Africa that was part of a ‘fake vaccine network,’ the BBC reported. Fake masks were also discovered with the vaccines in South Africa. According to the BBC report, some of the counterfeit vaccines were water or saline solution as opposed to legitimate vaccines. "Any vaccine being advertised on websites or the dark web, will not be legitimate, will not have been tested and may be dangerous," Interpol said. The organization added that this is just one of several fake vaccine rings that have been reported around the globe.
Bryant-Denny Stadium will host college football in front of a full capacity this fall, the University of Alabama announced this week. Athletic director Greg Byrne announced the capacity for the stadium would rise from 20% to 100% when the season begins. Classes will also return to in-person instruction with no restrictions on classroom capacity in the fall, according to ESPN. Alabama currently has the lowest vaccination rate in the country at just 13%. Bryant-Denny Stadium has a capacity of 100,077 and is scheduled to host its first of seven home games on Sept. 11 against when the Crimson Tide take on Mercer.
Many resources have become scarce as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the United States. One of these resources has been help needed for those suffering from addiction. Beverly Veres, and her husband Steve, have two sons who are heroin addicts. They feel the pandemic has taken away resources to help them battle their addictions. Data from the government suggests overdoses are surging amid the pandemic, according to AFP. The pandemic has now left many addicts lonely and isolated. "They're not focusing on anything else but Covid...the drugs have just come into this area and have taken over," Beverly Veres told AFP. Many areas across the country continue to battle the opioid epidemic every day.
Country music star Dolly Parton donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center last year to help develop the coronavirus vaccine. The university teamed up with Moderna to develop what would become the second vaccine to receive emergency authorization from the FDA. Leader of the research effort, Dr. Mark Denison, said Parton's donation played a crucial part in the early stages of research. Earlier this week, Parton received a shot of the vaccine she helped fund. “Dolly gets a dose of her own medicine...I'm so excited,” Parton posted on Twitter. The singer received her shot at Vanderbilt Health in Tennessee. In her video posted on Twitter, she begged people to not hesitate to get the vaccine because, “because once you’re dead, then that’s a bit too late.”
Italy continues to be impacted by the U.K. variant of the coronavirus as cases continue to trend up. Italy Health Minister, Roberto Speranza, told reporters on Tuesday the variant has impacted a young age group significantly. New cases among young people are now greater than new cases among older people in Italy. As a result of the upward trend in cases, new measures have been put in place. More than half of all new cases in Italy have been from the U.K. variant, and that number is feared to continue rising. The Brazil variant is also increasing its presence in Italy, with nearly 5% of cases being related to it in the country. As transmission rates rapidly increase, towns and cities have become sealed off in hopes to stop the spread.
President Joe Biden, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris, speaks about efforts to combat COVID-19, in the State Dining Room of the White House, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
In about a month, delivery of 100 million vaccines will be completed around the U.S. thanks to a partnership between drug makers and the recent approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The approval has led to the government assisting J&J in rollout, accelerating delivery. It is now expected every American adult who wants a vaccine can get one by the end of May, President Joe Biden said on Tuesday. J&J's vaccine will ramp up production and produce vaccines 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to Reuters. Merck & Co has also announced plans to partner with J&J to help speed up production and distribution and the ability for the J&J to produce vaccines will double as a result. Biden said he remains hopeful that the U.S. will be "back to normal" by this time in 2022 or even earlier.
Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas made national headlines Tuesday when he announced that he had lifted the state’s mask mandate and declared he’d be “opening Texas 100%” by next Wednesday. Meanwhile, according to data compiled by the researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Texas reported the most new cases in the nation on Tuesday with an additional 7,300 – a mark that is actually up from the 5,140 new cases reported two weeks ago on Feb. 18. Nationwide, the death toll surpassed 516,000 on Tuesday. For more on how the virus is spreading around the nation and world, watch the video below.
After the United States reaches its goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans in 100 days, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he hopes the U.S. would be able to share its vaccine supply with Mexico. When Joe Biden took office in January, he made a goal to vaccinate 100 million people by the end of his first 100 days in office. Although an official deal has yet to be made, Biden and Lopez Obrador have agreed to look into the possibility of sharing vaccine supplies. The White House said its priority remains to vaccinate all Americans, according to Reuters. Biden remains confident he will reach, and possibly surpass, his goal by his 100th day in late April.
High-frequency coronavirus data has shown initial signs of the vaccine having positive effects on infection rates and deaths. Coronavirus-related deaths in nursing home residents and infection numbers are running below forecast models used by economists. Long-term care facilities peaked at around 7,000 cases a week in January, according to CNBC. Since then, they have gone down to 2,200. These drops are giving economists hope in economic outlook forecasts, pointing to a strong economic rebound in the summer. Some risks could potentially still hinder economic recovery, such as reluctance to get a vaccine or new virus variants. About 77 million doses have been distributed so far, with 15% of Americans having received the first dose so far.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine age requirement has been raised, after being set to 65 and under earlier this year. The French health minister said the vaccine will now be available to those aged between 65 and 74. The reason for the initial lower age limit was due to lack of data from the older population, according to the BBC. Other countries, such as Germany, still limit the vaccine to people under 65. People over 75 will be offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine instead of the AstraZeneca jabs. About 273,000 AstraZeneca vaccines have been given in France.
In an effort to expand the supply of Johnson & Johnson’s newly approved coronavirus vaccine, the company’s rival, Merck & Co., will aid in production, the White House said Tuesday. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that an “across the administration effort” was required to get the historic rivals to work together on producing the vaccines, though there had been conversations over cooperation for months. “There’s a difference between conversations and moving it forward,” Psaki added. Specifics on the cooperation of the two companies were not immediately stated, including when the nation could see the bump in supply from Merck’s help. The Associated Press reported that previously, federal officials have cautioned that setting up the manufacturing lines needed to produce the vaccines would take months.
The NHL season is shaping up much differently this season than those in the past due to the pandemic, and now, one of the biggest rivalries in the sport is being affected by COVID-19 protocols. Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby has been ruled out for Tuesday night’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers after being placed on the COVID protocol list on Tuesday morning, NHL.com said. The Penguins morning skate was canceled on Tuesday amid the news, but the game is still set to start as scheduled on Tuesday night. "As I said to our players, we can do all the right things and this kind of stuff could happen,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “The other thing I would say is just because someone is on the COVID protocol list doesn't necessarily mean that they have COVID. There are protocols put in place for a reason, and we will do our very best to adhere to them." The Penguins are set to host the Flyers in a triple-header with games set for Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. There is the chance that Crosby could miss multiple games depending on how long he remains on the COVID protocol list.
On Tuesday afternoon, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that restrictions put in place during the early stages of the pandemic will come to an end on Wednesday, March 10. "With the medical advancements of vaccines and antibody therapeutic drugs, Texas now has the tools to protect Texans from the virus,” Abbott said in a press release. "We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans by opening Texas 100%.” Starting next Wednesday, all businesses in Texas will be able to return to 100% capacity, but they may still limit capacity at their own discretion. Additionally, the statewide mask mandate will also be lifted on Wednesday. “Make no mistake, COVID-19 has not disappeared, but it is clear from the recoveries, vaccinations, reduced hospitalizations, and safe practices that Texans are using that state mandates are no longer needed,” Abbott said. However, the press release stated that if the COVID-19 hospitalization exceeds 15% capacity for seven straight days, mitigation strategies may be implemented again. If mitigations efforts are issued, people and businesses that do not follow new guidelines cannot be penalized or be given jail time.
Former President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump received the COVID-19 vaccine at the White House in January 2021, NBC News reported via a Trump advisor. It was unclear which vaccine they received, and the Trump White House did not disclose the vaccination. The official White House photographer was also not present to document it, an official with direct knowledge told NBC News. In December, former Vice President Mike Pence, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris all received their vaccines at separate public events with the goal of boosting confidence about its safety.
100 million vaccines distributed in US The U.S. hit a major milestone in the fight against the coronavirus on Tuesday when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccines have been delivered. This includes vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna. To date, nearly 52 million Americans have received at least the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, or about 15.6% of the entire U.S. population.
A coronavirus vaccine developed by Novavax is currently in a Phase 3 trial and could be approved by the FDA as early as May if everything goes well. It is unclear when the Phase 3 trial in the U.S. will conclude, but it has shown promising results overseas. In a trial in the U.K., the vaccine was found to have an efficacy of 89.3% around the same time that the U.K. variant B.1.1.7 was circulating in January, Fox News reported. The vaccine from Novavax requires two doses, but unlike those from Pfizer and Moderna, is based on the proteins found in the coronavirus rather than using mRNA to help the body build an immunity to the virus. Additionally, the vaccine can be stores and shipped at temperatures ranging from 2 - 8 C, much higher than vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna, according to Fox News. The U.S. has already pre-ordered 110 million doses of the Novavax vaccine, pending FDA approval.
After the House passed the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill on Saturday, its fate now resides in the Senate where it could be passed in time to see checks sent as early as mid-March. The Senate is expected to take the measure this week and negotiate a final bill to pass. The House measure includes a raise of the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, but it is unlikely it will remain in the bill after Senate deliberations. The bill is pushing to be passed before March 14, according to CBS News. The coronavirus stimulus package is expected to include $1,400 checks, a boost in weekly unemployment benefits and to boost government spending on COVID-19 testing and tracing. Those eligible for the full amount include individuals earning up to $75,000 or married couples up to $150,000. If the bill is passed by March 12, the checks could start depositing into bank accounts within a few days.
A weekend lockdown that was enforced in Dunkirk, Nice and several other towns last weekend, is now ready to be deployed for Paris this weekend. Paris will be forced to lockdown for an entire weekend, a plan Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo says is "inhumane." Hidalgo said residents with no private outdoor space need a place to escape. "Very many residents of Paris, and even if it’s not my direct responsibility, areas like Seine-Saint-Denis, live in cramped apartments without any outside space," Hidalgo said. Last weekend, more than 60 towns and villages, including Nice, were placed under the lockdown which spanned from 6 p.m. Friday until 6 a.m. on Monday, according to The Guardian. More than 3,500 people are in intensive care due to the coronavirus in France, with numbers continuing to rise. Looking at the AccuWeather forecast for Paris this weekend, skies should be sunny there with highs in the mid-40s, just a tad below average for this time of year.
Future shipments of the recently approved Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine may depend on regulator approvals at a new plant. This week, 3.9 million doses of the vaccine will be shipped around the U.S. as the first single-dose vaccine to be used outside clinical trials. Johnson & Johnson said it hopes to deliver an additional 16 million by the end of the month, but the FDA still needs to approve companies to begin shipping from a new plant, according to Reuters. The 4 million doses already loaded on trucks was from a smaller plant already running. The new Catalent plant is expected to receive approval in the next few days with plans to meet the 20 million doses goal by the end of March. Watch the video below for more.
As vaccinations continue around the world, many are beginning to look forward to a world beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. But how soon a return to normalcy occurs is still uncertain. According to one World Health Organization official, the pandemic won't end in 2021. Michael Ryan, the WHO's emergencies program director, said it's "unrealistic" that the world will be done with the pandemic this year. Ryan said in a Monday press conference in Geneva that the focus right now should be keeping the transmission of COVID-19 as low as possible, The Associated Press reported. Ryan did note that the effective vaccines already in use could help bring a reduction in hospitalizations and deaths. “If the vaccines begin to impact not only on death and not only on hospitalization, but have a significant impact on transmission dynamics and transmission risk, then I believe we will accelerate toward controlling this pandemic,” he said according to the AP. But, he added that the virus "is very much in control." Watch a clip of the press conference below.
The positivity ratio in the U.S. has been steadily declining over the last two months, with the seven-day moving average at 4.42% as of Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. That’s a sharp decline from where things stood on Dec. 24, at the height of the holidays, when the positivity ratio was 11.18%. New cases in the U.S. came in at more than 58,000 on Tuesday and more than 1,500 fatalities were recorded across the country, bringing the national death toll to almost 515,000. For more a closer look at the data surrounding the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. and around the world, watch the video below.
An individual in the U.K. is the subject of a British manhunt after their test samples came back positive for a concerning COVID-19 variant, known as P.1. The variant was first originally detected in Brazil and it's unknown how it reached Britain, but officials are currently more concerned with finding the person’s identity and location, as the information card with the test kit wasn’t filled out, according to the New York Times. Nadhim Zahawi, the British official overseeing the nation’s vaccination campaign, has asked for every single resident who was tested on Feb. 12 or 13 but hasn’t received a result to call a government hotline.
It is believed that the P.1 variant could more be contagious than previous variants. Cases with the variant have been reported in the U.S. and 24 other countries.
The Philippines received its first 600,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine on Sunday. The shipment of the Chinese-based Sinovac vaccine, which came in on a Chinese military aircraft, is one of the last first shipments in Southeast Asia, ABC News reported. President Rodrigo Duterte thanked Beijing for the shipment. “COVID-19 vaccines should be treated as a global public good and made available to all, rich and poor alike,” Duterte said. “No one is safe until everyone is safe.” The shipment of the Sinovac vaccine was a donation to the country, but The Philippines has also ordered 25 million doses of the vaccine separately. The country was supposed to receive 525,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Monday, but supply problems is causing the shipment to be delayed by a week.
Coronavirus variants are putting the U.S. at risk of reversing all its progress in containing the virus. "Please hear me clearly: At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard earned ground we have gained," said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Walensky warned that new cases have risen 2% from the week prior, CNN reported. The seven day average of deaths in the nation also increased by more than 2%, bringing the daily death total in the U.S. to almost 2,000. In addition to a steady increase in new cases, Walensky said loosening restrictions in some states is an area of concern for her. "I am really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from Covid-19," she said. "Please stay strong in your conviction. Continue wearing your well-fitting mask and taking the other public health prevention actions that we know work.”
On Monday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced that some coronavirus-related restrictions would be eased as the number of infections across the state continue to decline. “The reason we are seeing cases drop can be attributed, in part, to people following the mitigation efforts we have in place,” Wolf said in a statement. “Mask-wearing, social distancing and hand hygiene are making a difference and need to continue even as we see more and more people fully vaccinated.
Indoor events may now have up to 15% capacity and outdoor events may now have up to 20% capacity regardless of venue size. This includes sporting events and entertainment, but those in attendance must still wear a face covering and follow social distancing guidelines. Additionally, Pennsylvania residents traveling out-of-state no longer need to quarantine for 14 days upon reentry. Nearly 2 million people across the Commonwealth have received at least the first dose of a Pfizer or Moderna coronavirus vaccine, according to the CDC, with the state still in the first phase of vaccine distribution.
Since vaccine distribution began in the U.S. on Dec. 14, more than 50 million people living in the U.S. have received at least 1 dose of the vaccine, reaching almost 20% of the adult population. Of the 50 million who have received the first dose, 25 million have received the second dose. More than 96 million vaccine doses have been delivered, according to federal data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some nations are prioritizing Olympic athletes within their vaccination rollout. India, Hungary, Israel, Mexico and Lithuania are among the nations prioritizing Olympians, The New York Times reported. Many of the countries choosing to vaccinate athletes early in the process hope that by doing so they can prevent hiccups in training or cases spreading among the athletes. The International Olympic Committee and organizers in Japan will not require that athletes be vaccinated at the Tokyo Olympics that are rescheduled for this year. People are split on the decision that many nations are making to prioritize vaccinating the athletes. “I certainly don’t think there is any reason why athletes should be given special treatment,” said Evan Dunfee, an elite racewalker from Canada. Canada is not one of the countries that prioritizes athletes for the vaccine. “Athletes are essential workers,” said Arthur Caplan, a professor of medical ethics at the New York University School of Medicine. “Maybe we should do what we need to do to make it possible for them to entertain us, to help us bear up under tough isolation circumstances.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is warning state officials against loosening coronavirus restrictions prematurely. The rate of new infections across the U.S. has “plateaued” at around 70,000 new cases a day, but Fauci is asking state leadership to "look at what history has taught us” about the pandemic, UPI reported. ”We're going to ultimately be pulling back, but you want to get the level of baseline infections per day very low, because, if you look at that little plateau, particularly in the arena of having variants such as we have in California and such as we have in New York, it is really risky to say it's over, we're on the way out, let's pull back because what we can see is that we turn up,” Fauci cautioned.
Demand for coronavirus testing has plummeted in the U.S., local officials throughout the nation say. According to The Associated Press, over 180 government-supported coronavirus testing sites are only operating at one-third of their capacity now. Los Angeles County officials say testing has collapsed in the county, compared to the 350,000 weekly coronavirus tests that were happening in the county five weeks prior. The U.S. peaked in terms of testing on Jan. 15, when the nation was administering over 2 million tests daily. The average number of daily tests since then has dropped 28%. “It’s shocking how quickly we’ve gone from moving at 100 miles an hour to about 25,” said Dr. Clemens Hong, who leads the county’s testing operation. According to officials, plateauing cases, the end of holiday traveling, a harsh winter and pandemic fatigue are all factors in dwindling testing. “When you combine all those together you see this decrease,” said Dr. Richard Pescatore from the Delaware health department. “People just aren’t going to go out to testing sites.”
Plastic surgeon Scott Green was in the middle of performing an operation on Thursday when he joined a virtual traffic court session. Dressed in his blue surgical scrubs, Green told Court Commissioner Gary Link that he was with another surgeon, so he was available to “stand here and allow them do the surgery also,” according to the Sacramento Bee. "So unless I'm mistaken, I'm seeing a defendant that's in the middle of an operating room appearing to be actively engaged in providing services to a patient," Link said. "Is that correct, Mr. Green? Or should I say Dr. Green?" Upon Green's confirmation, Link moved to have the trial date reset, as he felt uncomfortable for the patient's welfare, despite Green's insistence to continue.
The Zoom recording was shared publicly because traffic hearings are required to be open to the public. In the days since, the Medical Board of California has released a statement saying that it would look into the incident. Green has told NBC News that the story is inaccurate and that he has nothing to add.
Alex Gorsky, the CEO of the drugmaker Johnson & Johnson, expects the company's newly approved COVID-19 vaccine to be administered to Americans within 24 to 48 hours. Gorsky appeared on NBC's Today show to discuss developing the vaccine as well as the arduous development process it took company scientists, physicians and engineers over the past year to create a safe and effective vaccine. "They're literally rolling out with the trucks as we speak," Gorsky said of the vaccines to NBC's Savannah Guthrie. Gorsky said the company is committed to shipping 100 million doses by June. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine joins vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna, which have been in use for several months now. The key difference with Johnson & Johnson's vaccine is that it only requires only a single dose. Watch the video below to hear more from Gorsky's interview.
With safety protocols and limited capacity in place, baseball fans are just excited to be back at the ballparks. Major League Baseball’s spring training began on Sunday with games in Florida and Arizona. In Scottsdale, Arizona, capacity was capped at 16% at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, but fans such as Brandon Ramsey told The Associated Press that they were excited just to see their teams back in actions. Ramsey added that he was encouraged by the health precautions taken by stadiums, which includes seating pods of two, four or six people, mask wearing at all times and blanket seating in the outfield to space fans out.
“Last year got cut a little short. To come out here for opening day is just fantastic,” he told The AP. “They did a great job in socially distancing. They made sure we were safe.”
As the decline of coronavirus cases in the U.S. continues, the nation recorded 51,204 new infections on Sunday, its smallest increase since October 12, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. India, which has seen the second-most total cases in the world, is also experiencing a daily decline as the country hasn't posted a day with more than 20,000 new cases since early January.
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