June 15 coronavirus news

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 7:58 p.m. ET, June 15, 2021
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2:30 p.m. ET, June 15, 2021

12 states have now fully vaccinated at least half of their residents, CDC data shows

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid

A healthcare worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Oregon Health & Science University mass vaccination site in Portland, Oregon, on May 17.
A healthcare worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Oregon Health & Science University mass vaccination site in Portland, Oregon, on May 17. Alisha Jucevic/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Twelve states have fully vaccinated at least half of their residents against Covid-19, according to data published Tuesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Oregon is the latest state to reach this threshold, reporting 50% of its residents fully vaccinated. Oregon joins Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

All of these states have administered more than 75% of vaccines received, and all but Oregon have met the Biden administration’s goal of 70% of adult residents given at least one dose by July 4. Oregon is reporting 68% of adult residents with one dose of a vaccine.

Overall, 52.6% of the total US population has received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, and more than 145 million people – 43.9% of the US population – are fully vaccinated, CDC data shows.

More than 311 million doses of vaccine have been administered in total, about 83.2% of the 374 million doses that have been delivered.

According to CDC data, more than 1.2 million doses have been reported administered since Monday. This gives the country a seven-day average of 1,137,572 doses administered per day, the highest this number has been since Saturday, and the third-highest the average has been since the beginning of June.

Note: Data published by the CDC may be delayed, and doses may not have been administered on the day reported.

2:06 p.m. ET, June 15, 2021

Vice president announces $1.25 billion for hundreds of small lenders to boost Covid recovery

From CNN's Jasmine Wright 

Vice President Kamala Harris.
Vice President Kamala Harris. Source: Pool

Vice President Kamala Harris and Sec. Janet Yellen announced the Biden administration will award $1.25 billion to hundreds of small community lenders. It's a part of funding passed in last year’s coronavirus relief bill on Tuesday, in the South Court Auditorium.

In remarks, Harris argued that funding Community Development Financial Institutions that service minority and women owned businesses is an essential factor in rebuilding the economy from the pandemic. The money will be distributed through the newly created Rapid Recovery Program to 836 lenders and is just a small portion of the full $12 billion passed last December for CDFI’s and MDI’s. 

“Right now, small business owners don’t just need relief, they need access to capital,” Harris said. “And here's the truth traditional banks have not always seen or understood the vision of women small business owners, small business owners of color, small business owners who serve low-income communities. Sometimes their vision is something… outside of the experience of the big banks understand and see. Community lenders on the other hand, were founded to see that vision, to get it.”

This announcement fits into the larger narrative of one of Harris’ focuses as vice president, CNN has previously reported, focusing on small businesses—particularly minority and women-owned businesses—and trying to help small lenders obtain access to capital.

Harris said in the last month she had been in “direct contact,” with a multitude of active community lenders in different areas including rural, tribal, urban and low-income. And Harris added when she hosted Tulsa Race Massacre survivors at the White House last month, she also spoke of the need for capital.

For her part, Sec. Yellen said the US is missing out on growth because of lack of unequal lending, arguing that this effort seeks to offset that.

“When I started studying economics in 1963, the average black family owned 15% of what the average white family owned, and that number hasn't changed in half a century. It's as close to a constant as we come in economic data,” Yellen said, calling it both an “unfair” and “unhealthy” aspect of the US economy. 

“We, as a country, are missing out on so many venues for growth, because their capital is bottlenecked by race and region," she added.

1:01 p.m. ET, June 15, 2021

600,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the US since the pandemic began

From CNN's Michael Nedelman and Ben Tinker

The United States has surpassed 600,000 deaths since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

There have been at least 600,012 total deaths and 33,477,016 total Covid-19 cases in the US, the data shows.

With more than 600,000 deaths from Covid-19, that means about one in every 550 people in the US has died from the virus.

JHU recorded the first death from Covid-19 on Feb. 29, 2020, in Washington state. Later in the spring, two earlier deaths in California were posthumously confirmed to be from Covid-19.

  • The US reported 1,000 total deaths on March 24, 2020.
  • 84 days after the first death, the US surpassed 100,000 deaths on May 23, 2020.
  • 120 days later, the US surpassed 200,000 deaths on Sept. 20, 2020.
  • 82 days later, the US surpassed 300,000 deaths on Dec. 11, 2020.
  • 35 days later, the US surpassed 400,000 deaths on Jan. 16, 2021.
  • 37 days later, the US surpassed 500,000 deaths on Feb. 22, 2021.
  • 113 days later, the US surpassed 600,000 deaths on June 15, 2021.

Eight other countries in the world have reported more than 100,000 total Covid-19 deaths, according to JHU:

  • Brazil has 488,228 total deaths.
  • India has 377,031 total deaths.
  • Mexico has 230,187 total deaths.
  • Peru, UK, Italy, Russia and France each have over 100,000 total deaths.
12:59 p.m. ET, June 15, 2021

New York lifts all state-mandated Covid restrictions with 70% of population at least partially vaccinated

From CNN's Laura Ly

Customers dine outdoors at Fiddlesticks Bar on Memorial Day on May 31 in New York.
Customers dine outdoors at Fiddlesticks Bar on Memorial Day on May 31 in New York. Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

At least 70% of New Yorkers have now received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine dose and effective immediately, all state-mandated Covid-19 restrictions will be lifted, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a press briefing in lower Manhattan Tuesday. 

“This is a momentous day, and we deserve it because it has been a long, long road,” Cuomo said. “We can now return to life as we know it.”

All state-mandated Covid-19 restrictions will now be immediately lifted across all commercial and social settings, including the requirements on social gatherings, capacity restrictions, social distancing, health screenings, cleaning and disinfection protocols, and contact tracing. Mask requirements will continue in pre-K settings, on public transit and in health care settings, Cuomo said. 

Cuomo noted that at one point, New York state had a Covid-19 positivity rate of 48.16% – once the highest positivity rates in the world. The governor said Tuesday that New York state now has a positivity rate of 0.40% – now the lowest rate in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

“We were alone, and it was frightening. It was like living through a science fiction movie…people abandoned New York, but others stayed and others fought,” Cuomo said. “Where are we today? We have the lowest positivity rate in the United States of America…we went literally, from worst to first.”

Cuomo said that New York state has administered more than 20.2 million vaccine doses to date and has fully-vaccinated “a larger share of adults than any other big state in the country.”

The governor also announced that all of the state’s assets, including the Empire State Building, will be lit in blue and gold Tuesday night. Additionally, firework shows will occur at 9:15 pm ET at various sites across the state Tuesday night. 

“It’s our way of saving thank you all across to the state to our essential workers,” Cuomo said.

12:54 p.m. ET, June 15, 2021

CDC labels Delta variant a "variant of concern." Here's what that means.

From CNN's Jen Christensen

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now considers the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus, also known as B.1.617.2, a “variant of concern.” 

What this means: The variant of concern designation is given to strains of the virus that scientists believe are more transmissible or it can cause more severe disease. Vaccines, treatments and tests that detect the virus may also be less effective against a variant of concern.

The CDC said the Delta variant, which was first identified in India, has attributes of increased transmissibility, potential reduction in neutralization by some EUA monoclonal antibody treatments and potential reduction in neutralization after vaccination in lab tests.

Previously, the CDC had considered the Delta variant a “variant of interest.” The World Health Organization classified the Delta variant as a variant of concern on May 10. 

A study on the Delta variant in Scotland published on Monday found that the variant was associated with about double the risk of hospitalization compared with the Alpha variant, B.1.1.7, that was first identified in the UK.

At a White House Covid-19 briefing last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci encouraged everyone to get vaccinated as quickly as possible, noting that the Delta variant is now in circulation in the United States at a rate similar to the tipping point seen in the UK, where the variant is now dominant.

Andy Slavitt, former White House senior adviser for Covid-19 response, said on CNN’s New Day today that the Delta variant is a reason to encourage unvaccinated people to “strongly consider” getting a Covid-19 vaccine, as communities with low rates of vaccine may be at risk for Covid-19 outbreaks. 

12:51 p.m. ET, June 15, 2021

FAA will continue zero-tolerance policy for unruly passengers as long as the problem continues

From CNN's Greg Wallace

Safety officials will continue their steep enforcement against a surge of unruly passengers as long as it remains a problem, Federal Aviation Administration chief Steve Dickson said Tuesday.  

“We’ll keep it in place until the rates drive back down to where we have seen them historically,” Dickson said of the zero-tolerance policy for in-flight misbehavior and violence launched in January. The agency has said the policy will remain in place as long as the Biden administration requires passengers on airplanes to wear face masks. 

The FAA has said the zero-tolerance policy means pursuing the maximum civil penalty or criminal prosecution against passengers who violate federal rules, interfering with the instructions of aircraft crews. Approximately 3,000 reports of unruly passengers have been filed this year, and 2,300 of those include face mask violations. 

“The flight crews are on the aircraft for passenger safety, and it is extremely important and critical and required to follow the flight crew instructions,” Dickson said at a virtual event hosted by the website Aviation Week. 

More on this: The agency said it has begun enforcement proceedings in 57 cases so far, and identified potential violations in 465 cases. In a normal year, the agency pursues as many as 150 violations. 

Dickson’s comments came as the FAA announced four new fines against allegedly unruly passengers. 

One passenger faces a proposed $15,500 fine for ignoring the instructions of flight attendants, who “told the passenger at least 10 times to wear his facemask over both his mouth and nose.” That passenger also drank alcohol that was prohibited under federal rules because it was not served by the airline. 

Three other passengers also face fines of between $7,500 and $10,500 for refusal to wear face masks. One “smoked an e-cigarette in the airplane lavatory,” in violation of federal rules, and another’s yelling and profanity caused a flight to be diverted, the FAA said. 

Including the four new penalties, the FAA has announced 26 fines under its zero-tolerance policy so far this year, totaling around $440,000 in proposed fines. The amounts are not final because the passengers receive a violation notice and have 30 days to respond. 

12:33 p.m. ET, June 15, 2021

All Covid-19 restrictions in Maryland will end on July 1, governor says

From CNN’s Alec Snyder

People sit at the car at Firestone Restaurant on Tuesday, November 24, 2020, in Frderick, Maryland.
People sit at the car at Firestone Restaurant on Tuesday, November 24, 2020, in Frderick, Maryland. The Frederick News-Post via AP

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced on Tuesday that the state will lift all Covid-19 restrictions and the state of emergency on July 1.

All mask-wearing and face covering restrictions will be lifted on that date, though individual businesses may still enforce their own requirements, Hogan said. However, there will be no mandate in Maryland to wear a mask anywhere.

Hogan also said that there will be a 45-day grace period through Aug. 15 where certain regulations will be relaxed. Expired driver’s licenses will be conditionally allowed to be renewed through that date and a moratorium on evictions will remain active until then. 

Health officials will additionally be given time to transition from emergency operations until Aug. 15, Hogan said.

12:26 p.m. ET, June 15, 2021

US sees lowest weekly number of new Covid-19 cases in children in a year

From CNN's Jen Christensen

With about 14,500 new cases, the US saw the lowest number of new weekly Covid-19 cases among children in a year, since June 2020, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Children were nearly 19% of the new cases reported late last week. Since the start of the pandemic, over 4 million children have tested positive as of June 10.

Children made up between 6% and 19.7% of those who were tested for Covid-19 according to the states that reported numbers, and 5.1% to 34.7% of children tested were positive for the coronavirus, depending on the state.

Children are still considered much less likely than adults to develop severe symptoms of Covid-19 or to die from the disease. 

Children represented 1.4% to 3.2% of total reported hospitalizations for Covid-19, based on the information provided by 24 states and New York City. Only 0.1%-1.9% of all cases of Covid-19 in children required hospitalization. 

Eight states among the 43 that provided data on Covid-19 mortality reported zero children have died from Covid-19.

12:21 p.m. ET, June 15, 2021

Massachusetts ends state of emergency and announces vaccine lottery

From CNN's Anna Sturla

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. Source: Pool via WVCB

Gov. Charlie Baker announced the Massachusetts VaxMillions Giveaway to encourage residents to become vaccinated against Covid-19 during a news conference on Tuesday.

Tuesday also marked the end of Massachusetts' state of emergency, while Covid-19 cases had declined by 99% since their peak in January, Baker said.

Massachusetts' Covid-19 Command Center will also be ending, and the state's medical advisory board held its last formal meeting last week, he added.

As part of the vaccine lottery, fully vaccinated adults stand to win one of five $1 million prizes, while residents ages 12 to 17 may win one of five scholarships. Residents can begin entering on July 1, with drawings taking place once a week beginning in late July, according to the governor's office.

At least 80% of adults have received at least one vaccine dose, with more than 4 million Massachusetts residents fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, the governor said.