January 20 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Sharon Braithwaite and Hannah Strange, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, January 21, 2021
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3:17 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

More than 16.5 million Covid-19 vaccines doses have been administered across the US

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

More than 16.5 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the US, about 46% of the 36 million doses distributed, according to data published by the CDC today. 

At least 2.1 million people have received both of the required doses, according to data reported this morning.

West Virginia continues to lead the nation in the number of vaccine doses administered per capita, with more than 8,800 doses administered per 100,000 people. 

Wednesday's numbers mark a significant increase in the share of doses administered out of the total distributed. Previously that share had stayed below 40%.

However, a note on the CDC’s Covid Data Tracker site indicates that the agency is “refining how the number of doses distributed is reported,” which could affect this calculation. 

The US vaccine rollout has not been a smooth one, with the nation lagging behind several other countries in its Covid-19 vaccination efforts, according to a recent CNN analysis of government data.

CNN is tracking Covid-19's spread across the US here:

 

3:06 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Tennis stars urged not to feed mice in hotel rooms as they quarantine ahead of Australian Open

From CNN's Ben Morse

World no. 28 Yulia Putintseva was forced to swap rooms in her quarantine hotel in Melbourne after she discovered a mouse, only to find out that her new room was also infested.

In a video she posted on Twitter, the Kazakhstan player said: "Different room same story. Wanted to go to sleep but noooope!"

Putintseva is one of the 72 players and their teams that have been forced to quarantine in their hotel rooms for 14 days after their arrival in Australia ahead of the Australian Open, 2021's first grand slam due to the country's stringent Covid-19 rules.

Read more:

2:38 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

More than 403,000 people have died in the US from Covid-19

From CNN's Amanda Watts

At least 403,482 people have died in the US from Covid-19 according to data from Johns Hopkins University (JHU.) 

The country remains the worst hit globally, with more than 24.3 million total cases of infection.

So far today, JHU has reported 57,048 new cases and 1,710 new deaths in the US.

The data includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other U.S. territories, as well as repatriated cases.  

The US CDC said at least 31,161,075 Covid-19 vaccine doses have now been distributed and at least 15,707,588 total doses have been administered.

CNN is tracking the spread of Covid-19 across the US here:

 

1:46 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

President Joe Biden sends first tweet as POTUS

President Joe Biden tweeted from the @POTUS account for the first time following the inauguration ceremony, writing: "There is no time to waste when it comes to tackling the crises we face."

He continued: "That's why today, I am heading to the Oval Office to get right to work delivering bold action and immediate relief for American families."

Vice President Kamala Harris has also taken control of @VP account.

2:06 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Plans for contact testing in English schools halted

From CNN’s Elle Pickston in London

The UK is “pausing” its plans to roll out rapid daily Covid-19 testing for the close contacts of positive individuals in English secondary schools and colleges, a government spokesperson said Wednesday.

The change was attributed to the emergence of the new UK variant.

The mass testing programme in schools was due to start in January to help identify asymptomatic cases amongst students and staff.

The government spokesperson said that the change of plans was the result of updated advice from UK scientific advisers, saying that NHS Test and Trace and Public Health England (PHE) believed "that in light of the higher prevalence and rates of transmission of the new variant, further evaluation work is required to make sure [testing] is achieving its aim of breaking chains of transmission and reducing cases of the virus in the community.
“We are therefore pausing daily contact testing in all but a small number of secondary schools and colleges, where it will continue alongside detailed evaluation," the spokesperson added.

Public Health England (PHE) also released a statement Wednesday explaining the rationale behind the advice and saying that the “pandemic has entered a new phase."

National lockdown measures across England have forced schools to remain closed since 5 January, however children of key workers are still allowed to attend. PHE confirmed that schools should continue to test staff and pupils currently going in to schools.

UK Education Secretary Gavin Williamson hailed daily testing in schools as a "milestone moment in our work to keep schools and colleges open for all" in December.

But scientists have expressed concerns that the tests may not be accurate enough, could falsely reassure people and increase the spread of Covid-19.

 

2:19 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Biden reflects on "winter of peril" during inaugural address

US President Joe Biden used his inaugural address to reflect on the challenge of containing the pandemic but struck a note of optimism about the future.

"We’ll press forward with speed and urgency for we have much to do in this winter of peril," Biden said Wednesday after being sworn in as president in Washington DC.
Biden referred to Covid-19 as a "once in a century virus that silently stalks the country."
"It’s taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II," he said.
"Millions of jobs have been lost. Hundreds of thousands of businesses closed."

The US has the highest toll of Covid-19 cases globally, with more than 24.2 million cases recorded. Biden takes office as the death toll crosses 400,000 and amid a stuttering vaccine rollout.

"This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward. And we must meet this moment as the United States of America. If we do that, I guarantee you we will not fail," Biden said.

The 46th US president plans to make the coronavirus pandemic his top priority.

Biden will begin his presidency by asking Americans to wear masks for 100 days in his first executive order and reversing Donald Trump's decision to leave the World Health Organization (WHO.)

 

1:07 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Spain records its highest weekly number of Covid-19 deaths since November

From CNN's Tim Lister in Spain

Spain has recorded 1,146 Covid-19 deaths in the past seven days, the highest weekly toll since the end of November.  

The country has seen a sharp rises in infections over recent weeks.

Data released on Wednesday also showed that of the total infected in Spain since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 14% have been diagnosed in the last two weeks. 

The data suggests that Spanish infections and deaths are still climbing, though not as sharply as in recent weeks. 

Spain has recorded more than 2.2 million cases in total -- 346,223 within the past 14 days. The city and region of Madrid account for about one-third of the infections over the past 24 hours, which totaled 18,500 nationwide. 

ICU admissions in the past seven days stood at 525, the highest weekly total so far this year. 

 

12:48 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Lebanon reports record high Covid-19 deaths for third day in a row

From CNN's Ghazi Balkiz in Beirut 

Members of the Lebanese security forces check citizens' documents at a COVID-19 checkpoint near the coastal town of Safra on the Tripoli-Beirut main highway on January 19, 2021.
Members of the Lebanese security forces check citizens' documents at a COVID-19 checkpoint near the coastal town of Safra on the Tripoli-Beirut main highway on January 19, 2021. Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images

Lebanon’s Ministry of Public Health has recorded 64 new deaths from Covid-19 in the last 24 hours. The new data marks the third day in a row in which Lebanon has set a record high for Covid-19 deaths in a 24 hour period.

The country has recorded a total of 2,084 Covid-19 related deaths since the pandemic began.

The health ministry also recorded 4,332 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the total case number to 264,647.

The country is currently under a stringent lockdown until January 25.

The surge in cases followed the holiday period during which Lebanon's government loosened restrictions and allowed shopping malls, restaurants, bars and nightclubs to open.

Officials imposed an 11-day lockdown from January 14, after hospital ICU occupancy rates rose past 90%.

“Unfortunately, we are facing a frightening health situation," Hassan Diab, the prime minister in Lebanon's caretaker government, said on January 12.
"The coronavirus pandemic has spiraled out of control due to the stubbornness of people and their insurgence against lockdown measures which we have taken.”

 

12:38 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

'Long Covid' is a real and pressing concern, warns US National Institutes of Health director

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the US National Institutes of Health, has highlighted the need to understand more about lingering Covid-19 symptoms, and encouraged people to participate in a survey about the experience.

Over 400,000 Americans have lost their lives to Covid-19, Collins wrote in a blog post, “but thousands of others who’ve gotten sick and survived Covid-19 are finding that a full recovery can be surprisingly elusive.” 

He described emerging “Long Covid syndrome” as a “real and pressing” public health concern.

Collins noted results from a recent survey from the online Body Politic Covid-19 Support Group and its Patient-Led Research for the virus.

The survey included more than 3,700 self-described “long haulers” and found nearly half couldn’t work full time six months after prolonged symptoms developed. The pre-print survey has not been peer-reviewed or published in a medical journal. 

“The findings show that, even in those people who don’t require hospitalization for severe Covid-19, the condition’s prolonged symptoms are having a major impact on lives and livelihoods, both here and around the world,” Collins wrote.
“While the number of people affected isn’t yet known, if even a small proportion of the vast numbers of people infected with Covid-19 develop Long Covid syndrome, it represents a significant public health concern.”

More insight is needed into these long-term symptoms, Collins said, urging people to participate in the online survey.