January 6 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Zamira Rahim, Angela Dewan and Hannah Strange, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021
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3:59 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

California records more than 450 Covid-19 deaths as hospitalizations reach new high

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg and Amanda Watts

The Dodger Stadium COVID-19 testing site, which is the largest in the U.S. reopened Monday on January 5, in Los Angeles, California.
The Dodger Stadium COVID-19 testing site, which is the largest in the U.S. reopened Monday on January 5, in Los Angeles, California. Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

California’s Department of Public Health confirmed 459 new Covid-19 deaths on Wednesday, as infection numbers and hospitalizations in the state soar.

The number of fatalities is well above the two-week daily average of just under 300 deaths a day. Only once has the daily report been higher, when the state reported 585 deaths on December 31 last year. 

Hospitalizations in the Golden State have reached a new high, with 22,820 coronavirus patients admitted for treatment statewide. More than 4,700 of those patients are in intensive care units.

There were nearly 30,000 confirmed infections reported Wednesday.

The total number of Californians infected with Covid-19 has now reached 2.4 million.

3:42 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Fauci says no national vaccine mandate for the US, but some workplaces and schools may require it

From CNN Jen Christensen

Economic Club of Washington DC
Economic Club of Washington DC

Dr. Anthony Fauci said the US would not force people to get a Covid-19 vaccine but some employers and schools may require employees and pupils to be vaccinated.

“We’re certainly not going to have a central mandate from the federal government, but the precedent for requiring vaccinations is not new,” Fauci said. 

Speaking Wednesday at the Economic Club of Washington, DC, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said, for example, he is required by NIAID to get a flu shot if he wanted to see patients. He said he could see other institutions making such requirements. 

“I would imagine that some industrial entities, some schools and other entities might actually at the local level require that people get vaccinated before they can participate in whatever function of that institution is,” Fauci said.

“I mean, we do it already in public schools. If you don’t show a certificate of being vaccinated you’re not allowed to be in school.” 

Fauci said vaccines are hugely important in bringing Covid-19 under control.

“Vaccines are a clear home run,” Fauci said. “We have very efficacious vaccine that’s safe. The real challenge is just getting it into the arms of people.”

2:29 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

NY Governor asks for proof of Covid-19 testing from international travelers

From CNN's Laura Dolan

A traveler is reflected in a window at LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020.
A traveler is reflected in a window at LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. Angus Mordant/Bloomberg/Getty Images

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has asked the federal government to require international travelers entering the state to show proof of a Covid-19 test before entry.

Cuomo said he wanted US Customs and Border Control personnel to ask for proof at all New York airports or to allow Port Authority personnel to obtain proof.  

“Let us protect ourselves,” Cuomo said at his press conference Wednesday. “We don’t want tens of thousands of people coming through our airports every day from countries around the world who were not tested.”

In addition to making the request public at his press conference, Gov. Cuomo sent a letter with an official request to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Robert Redfield.

The governor says he is very concerned about the UK variant of Covid-19, which is now in New York after a case was confirmed in Saratoga on Monday. Cuomo said it appears now there��s evidence that the UK variant in Saratoga Springs was connected to UK travel.

1:02 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

South Africa's Covid-19 variant spurred discovery of the UK's

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen

A new Covid-19 variant circulating the UK was discovered after a tip from a South African scientist who had just identified a similar variant in his own country.

Tulio de Oliveira, a genomics expert in South Africa, asked to speak before a World Health Organization working group on December 4 about the new variant that was rapidly spreading in his country, according to an email obtained by CNN. 

He spoke to the group that day and suggested they look through their genomic databases for similar variants. 

One of the members in attendance was Andrew Rambaut, a professor at the University of Edinburgh. He found a similar variant in the UK database. 

Rambaut tweeted on December 20 that de Oliviera's discovery was like a "hint" for the UK to look for a similar variant.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead for the WHO's coronavirus response, also said de Oliveira's discovery triggered British scientists to look at the different type of variants.

"I'm just so grateful that we have this [international] collaboration," she said.

12:02 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

UK hits winter record of 1,041 daily deaths as Covid-19 cases surge

From CNN's Nada Bashir

Britain has recorded its highest daily increase in coronavirus-related deaths since 21 April, with a total of 1,041 further deaths registered on Wednesday. 

The total death toll for patients who have died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus, since the beginning of the pandemic, now stands at 77,346 according to government figures. 

As of Wednesday, 62,322 new cases have been confirmed across the UK, bringing the country's total number of cases to 2,836,801.

Wednesday’s figures mark an increase on Tuesday, where 60,916 new daily cases were recorded, along with 830 additional deaths.

Speaking during a Downing Street press briefing on Tuesday, England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said that about one in 50 people across England now has coronavirus, calling the figure “really very high.”

England is currently under a strict national lockdown as the British government struggles to curb the rise in infection.

11:48 a.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Zimbabwe health system overwhelmed as country goes into new strict lockdown, doctors say

From CNN's Nyasha Chingono

A person passes closed shops in downtown Harare, Zimbabwe, on January 5.
A person passes closed shops in downtown Harare, Zimbabwe, on January 5. Aaron Ufumeli/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Doctors in Zimbabwe have said the health system is overwhelmed and could collapse as the country battles a new wave of infections that has prompted a strict new 30-day lockdown.

After the Christmas holidays, Zimbabwe recorded an increase in Covid-19 infections and deaths, raising fears for an already fragile healthcare system.

The government has urged citizens to adhere to the lockdown, which includes movement restrictions to all but the most essential services.

The reopening of schools has been postponed indefinitely, following a Covid-19 outbreak in schools last term, while shops will only be open until 3 pm daily.

A dusk-to-dawn curfew is also in place to avoid night gatherings and events.

Read more:

11:55 a.m. ET, January 6, 2021

New York City officials push to vaccinate those over 75 as hospitalizations rise

From CNN's Kristina Squeglia in New York

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at a press conference in New York on January 6.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at a press conference in New York on January 6. NYC Media

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is pushing for adults in the city aged over 75 to be prioritized for vaccination against Covid-19, amid worsening trends in that age group.

Eligibility for vaccination is ultimately approved by state officials. The state currently has a five phase vaccination priority plan. The first two phases prioritize healthcare workers and long term care facility patients and other key workers. Adults over the age of 65 are under phase 3 of the plan.

The mayor has said he hopes to begin pre-registration of seniors at some of the available vaccination hubs in the city.

New York City Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi elaborated that over the past 30 days, 6% of all cases are over 75 and up, but 30% of hospitalizations and 58% of deaths are in persons 75 and older. Percent positivity is also increasing in this category.

“I believe that New Yorkers age 75 and older should be eligible for the vaccine as soon as possible,” Chokshi said, adding that “several states have already prioritized older adults.”

Overall, New York City reported an additional 3,845 cases on a 7-day average, which de Blasio said was "way too high." The city also recorded a “big jump” in patients admitted to hospitals with suspected Covid-19, with the mayor marking 279 in Wednesday’s report.

De Blasio said he was hopeful that the impact of the holiday break would wear off the next few weeks, leading to an improvement in Covid-19 numbers.

New York City was the US epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic in March, with hospitals struggling to cope with the influx of patients.

After an easier summer, the city is now experiencing rising numbers of infections and new restrictions have been imposed.

12:42 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

EU authorizes second vaccine against Covid-19

From CNN's Kara Fox, James Frater and Stephanie Halasz

The European Union has authorized Moderna's vaccine for conditional use, the second Covid-19 inoculation to be given the green light.

The EU had secured the purchase of up to 160 million doses of the vaccine -- enough to vaccinate 80 million people of its 448 million citizens -- as part of a joint vaccine strategy aimed to ensure equitable access across the bloc.

The authorization comes as the region battles to slow the spread of a new variant of the virus, with several countries entering strict new lockdowns and shutting schools as the new year begins.

Emer Cooke, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) executive director, said on Wednesday that "this vaccine provides us with another tool to overcome the current emergency.

"It is a testament to the efforts and commitment of all involved that we have this second positive vaccine recommendation just short of a year since the pandemic was declared by WHO," she said.

Moderna submitted an application for authorization on November 30. The European Union has been conducting rolling reviews of data to expedite its approval processes.

Read the full story here.

11:02 a.m. ET, January 6, 2021

In less than a week, more than 1,000 people have died of coronavirus in Los Angeles County

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

Pallbearers carry the casket of someone said to have died from Covid-19 during a burial service in Whittier, California, on December 31.
Pallbearers carry the casket of someone said to have died from Covid-19 during a burial service in Whittier, California, on December 31. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

More than 1,000 people have died of Covid-19 in Los Angeles County over the past week as California grapples with surging cases and overwhelmed hospitals.

"L.A. County reached the terrible milestone of more than 11,000 deaths due to Covid-19," Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said in a statement, as she urged all residents to stay home and follow public health orders.
"As a community, we must commit to stopping the spread of Covid-19 in its tracks so that we can save as many lives as possible."

The pandemic has devastated much of the US state.

On Tuesday, the state reported 368 new coronavirus deaths -- pushing the number of lives lost in the state to 27,000 since the start of the pandemic. Some 2.45 million have been infected.

The surge in cases has put California at the epicenter of the US's struggle against coronavirus.

Read more: