January 5 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Kara Fox, Ed Upright and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, January 6, 2021
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11:14 a.m. ET, January 5, 2021

Study estimates US Covid-19 infections may be 4 times higher than reported

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

Covid-19 infections in the United States may have been four times higher than the number of cases reported, with 1 in 7 US residents infected by mid-November, according to a new study. 

As of November 15, about 10.8 million reported cases of Covid-19 were reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the study suggests the actual number of infections was closer to 46.9 million. 

The study also suggests that approximately 35% of Covid-19 deaths may not be reported.

"Reported Covid-19 cases do not represent the full SARS-CoV-2 disease burden," the researchers wrote in the study, published in the medical journal JAMA Network Open on Tuesday. 

Researchers tested randomly selected blood samples for the presence of Covid-19 antibodies in a series of surveys conducted in 10 states, as well as one nationwide. They derived estimates for the number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths in the US as of Nov. 15 by comparing antibody prevalence in the samples to the number of reported cases to adjust for underreporting. 

Gaps between the number of reported infections and estimated number of infections decreased over time, suggesting more widespread access to testing in later months, according to the researchers. 

Data from this study may be helpful in monitoring progress toward herd immunity as infections continue to rise, but there is still a long way to go.

"Even after adjusting for underreporting, a substantial gap remains between the estimated proportion of the population infected and the proportion infected required to reach herd immunity," the researchers wrote.

11:09 a.m. ET, January 5, 2021

New York City mayor says city will create 5 mass vaccination sites, one in each borough

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks to the press in April.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks to the press in April. Scott Heins/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to create five “mass vaccination” sites throughout the city, with the goal of propping up two of them this weekend.

He described them as “public sites where anyone in the appropriate categories can come 24/7 and get vaccinated,” in all 5 boroughs of New York City. 

The first three will be in Bathgate Industrial Park in the Bronx, the Brooklyn Army Terminal Annex Building in Brooklyn and La Marqueta in Manhattan.

The Staten Island and Queens sites have yet to be announced. 

These sites are in addition to vaccine hubs, all H+H facilities, and DOH pop up sites, he said. 

“We’re going to have capacity all over the 5 boroughs, we want to make it easy and quick and accessible to all.”

10:53 a.m. ET, January 5, 2021

Premier League reveals large uptick in new positive Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Aleks Klosok

Michael Regan/Getty Images
Michael Regan/Getty Images

The English Premier League has announced 40 new positive Covid-19 cases among players and club staff in its latest round of testing – more than double from the previous week. 

In a statement on Tuesday, the league said that between Dec. 28 to 31, 1,311 players and club staff were tested for Covid-19 of these, there were 28 new positive tests.

From Jan. 1 to 3, Covid-19 tests were administered to 984 players and club staff, with 12 tests coming back positive.

It is the first week players and club staff have been tested twice a week for Covid-19.

Last week, the Premier League announced 18 positive results, which was the highest weekly figure since the start of the current season. 

As of Tuesday, four Premier League matches have been postponed this season due to Covid-19 issues.

The statement added that it “continues to have confidence in its COVID-19 protocols, fully backed by the Government, to enable fixtures to be played as scheduled.”

10:48 a.m. ET, January 5, 2021

A patient dies of Covid-19 every 15 minutes in Los Angeles County, public health official says

Overflowing hospital morgues, increased 911 wait times, beds only opening when patients die. Hospitals in California, where almost all of the state's 40 million residents are living under stay-at-home orders, are seeing historic stress points.

The surge of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations is pushing hospitals in Los Angeles County to the "brink of catastrophe," a top health official there said.

In a little more than a month, Los Angeles County doubled its number of infections, climbing from about 400,000 cases on November 30 to more than 800,000 cases on January 2, health officials said Monday.

The case deluge has translated to a surge of Covid-19 patients, overwhelming hospitals and plunging intensive care unit capacity across the region to zero. There are now more than 7,600 people hospitalized with Covid-19 in in the county, 21% of whom are in the ICU, officials said

With no hospital beds available, ambulance crews in the county were given guidance not to transport patients with little chance of survival. And the patients who are transported often have to wait hours before a bed is available.

"Hospitals are declaring internal disasters and having to open church gyms to serve as hospital units," Supervisor Hilda Solis said, calling the situation a "human disaster."

And a person is dying of the virus every 15 minutes, Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said.

As hospitalizations climb, the Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency (EMS) directed ambulance crews not to transport patients with little chance of survival to hospitals and to conserve the use of oxygen.

Before the pandemic, when healthcare workers and resources were more readily available, patients who were unlikely to recover could be transported by ambulance to the hospital for treatment.

But Los Angeles hospitals are now at capacity and many medical facilities don't have the space to take in patients who do not have a chance of survival, the agency said. Patients whose hearts have stopped despite efforts of resuscitation, the county EMS said, should no longer be transported to hospitals.

"Effective immediately, due to the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on EMS and 9-1-1 Receiving Hospitals, adult patients (18 years of age or older) in blunt traumatic and nontraumatic out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) shall not be transported [if]return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) is not achieved in the field," the agency said in a memo issued to ambulance workers last week.

If there are no signs of breathing or a pulse, EMS will continue to perform resuscitation for at least 20 minutes, the memo said. If the patient is stabilized after the period of resuscitation, they would then be taken to a hospital. If the patient is declared dead at the scene or no pulse can be restored, paramedics will no longer transport the body to the hospital.

And even after they arrive at hospitals, some EMTs have to wait outside for hours, as hospitals often don't have enough beds to take the patients in.

"We are waiting two to four hours minimum to a hospital and now we are having to drive even further... then wait another three hours," EMT Jimmy Webb told CNN affiliate KCAL.

Local officials have tried to encourage the public not to call 911 unless "they really need to," Dr. Marc Eckstein, the commander of the Los Angeles Fire Department EMS bureau, told CNN affiliate KABC.

"I think this next four-to-six week period is going to be critical with our system being taxed," Eckstein added.

10:18 a.m. ET, January 5, 2021

Alabama mayor hospitalized after being diagnosed with Covid-19

From CNN's Tina Burnside 

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, pictured in 2018, has been hospitalized after testing positive for coronavirus.
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, pictured in 2018, has been hospitalized after testing positive for coronavirus. Jonathan Bachman/Reuters/File

Birmingham, Alabama, Mayor Randall Woodfin has been hospitalized nearly a week after announcing he tested positive for Covid-19. 

In a tweet, the City of Birmingham said Woodfin was admitted to the hospital on Monday night to address symptoms connected to Covid-19 pneumonia, according to his doctor. 

Woodfin tweeted last Wednesday that Covid-19 had "made its way to his doorstep" and at that time his symptoms were mild. 

The city said Woodfin is "receiving excellent care and is resting comfortably."

Read the tweet:

10:06 a.m. ET, January 5, 2021

Covid-19 is surging at an alarming rate in California. Here's why.

Cars line up at a coronavirus testing site at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Monday.
Cars line up at a coronavirus testing site at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Monday. Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Los Angeles County has been fighting a brutal battle against Covid-19 for weeks now.

New infections have soared with about one in five residents who get tested for Covid-19 receiving positive results.

In a little more than a month, the county doubled its number of infections, climbing from about 400,000 cases on Nov. 30 to more than 800,000 cases on Jan. 2, health officials said Monday.

The case deluge has translated to a surge of Covid-19 patients, overwhelming hospitals and plunging intensive care unit capacity across the region to zero. There are now more than 7,600 people hospitalized with Covid-19 in in the county, 21% of whom are in the ICU, officials said

With no hospital beds available, ambulance crews in the county were given guidance not to transport patients with little chance of survival. And the patients who are transported often have to wait hours before a bed is available.

But it will get worse.

Officials say they're headed into the feared surge stemming from holiday gatherings.

"The increases in cases are likely to continue for weeks to come as a result of holiday and New Year's Eve parties and returning travelers," Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said.

"We're likely to experience the worst conditions in January that we've faced the entire pandemic, and that's hard to imagine."

As the nation's most populous state and home to approximately 1 in 9 Americans, California would understandably lead in a category such as total cases in a pandemic felt nationwide. However, it is the sheer volume of sick residents and the rate of increase that is particularly driving alarm.

On Nov. 1, the seven-day average for new daily cases in California was 4,183. On Dec. 29, it was 31,245.

The state averaged more than 40,000 new coronavirus infections every day for the week prior to Christmas, according to data from Johns Hopkins University (JHU), filling up hospitals and pushing health care workers to consider ways to ration care.

Multiple factors are at play when it comes to California's sudden acceleration of coronavirus cases, including Covid-19 fatigue, resistance to stay-at-home regulations, the huge number of essential workers and the socioeconomic factors of the pandemic affecting poorer and minority households.

9:46 a.m. ET, January 5, 2021

US stocks open lower

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

American flags fly outside the New York Stock Exchange on Monday.
American flags fly outside the New York Stock Exchange on Monday. Michael Nagle/Bloomberg/Getty Images

US stocks opened in the red on Tuesday as investors eye the high-stakes runoff election in Georgia that will determine the balance in the Senate.

On top of that, the spread of Covid-19 is forcing new lockdown restrictions in Europe.

Here's how the market opened: 

  • The Dow opened 0.1%, or 24 points, lower.
  • The S&P 500 also slipped 0.1%.
  • The Nasdaq Composite opened down 0.2%.

 

9:33 a.m. ET, January 5, 2021

More than 140 inmates test positive for Covid-19 at Puerto Rico Prison 

From CNN's Ana Melgar Zuniga 

The Puerto Rico Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation confirms an outbreak of Covid-19 affecting 143 prisoners in the correctional facility of Bayamón 501, according to a news release from the agency. 

According to the statement, on Dec. 28 a correctional officer tested positive. He had been in contact with five prisoners. Those five people later had contact with the other prisoners in module one of the facility. In the release, the department's designated secretary, Ana Escobar Pabón, said she was informed of the outbreak Monday afternoon, after cases spread quickly. 

All of the prisoners of module one were tested and the results were received yesterday, according to Escobar Pabón.

Two prisoners are hospitalized, according to Escobar Pabón. The prisoners who were affected will be isolated for 14 days. Prisoners in other modules of the facility, security officers and civilians that might have been exposed will be tested as well.

Escobar Pabón ordered the use of plasticware to serve food, canceled any transports from going in or out of the prison, and provided additional PPE to the workers. Visits were already cancelled under the current Covid-19 executive order.

9:44 a.m. ET, January 5, 2021

Switzerland reports 28 cases of UK Covid-19 variant

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy

Virginie Masserey, Head of Infectious Diseases Control at Switzerland's Federal Office of Public Health, attends a coronavirus news conference in Bern, Switzerland, on December 4.
Virginie Masserey, Head of Infectious Diseases Control at Switzerland's Federal Office of Public Health, attends a coronavirus news conference in Bern, Switzerland, on December 4. Denis Balibouse/Reuters/File

Swiss health authorities reported 28 cases of the new variant of Covid-19 that has been spreading across the UK. 

Most of these infections were discovered either in people who had traveled from the UK recently or that had been in contact with those that had, the Head of Infectious Diseases Control at the country’s Federal Office of Public Health, Virginie Masserey, said at a press conference on Tuesday. However, she said the variant had also been found in people who “didn't have this epidemiological link.”

“This virus is in Switzerland and propagating,” Masserey explained, adding that while the spread at the moment remains "very low,” the new variant provides a “further reason to continue the efforts to lessen absolutely the number of cases in Switzerland.”

“If we start to see a significant spread of the variant starting from a rather high level this could overburden the health system and increase the number of deaths” she added. 

Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health reported 4,020 cases in the past 24 hours, 208 new hospitalizations and 98 deaths.