January 29 coronavirus news

By Zahid Mahmood, Hannah Strange, Julia Hollingsworth and Adam Renton, CNN

Updated 12:14 AM ET, Sat January 30, 2021
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5:54 p.m. ET, January 29, 2021

Some states could vaccinate their seniors twice as fast as others, CNN analysis finds

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

Some states could fully vaccinate their 65-and-older population within two months, but it could take more than twice as long for others, a CNN analysis found.

If individuals age 65 and older were the only people being vaccinated, Alaska could fully vaccinate its seniors – with both shots of the two-dose regimen – within 43 days. In Iowa, Hawaii, Idaho and Florida, it could take more than 130 days, or more than four months.

The analysis considered the total senior population in each state, along with the average pace of vaccine administration over the past seven days, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

In four states, more than one in five people are 65 or older, according to data from the US Census Bureau: Maine, Florida, West Virginia and Vermont.

At the current pace of vaccinations, it would take Florida 131 days to fully vaccinate its senior population if they were the only group being vaccinated. However, West Virginia is administering vaccines at a per capita rate that’s about 32% faster than Florida, and could fully vaccinate its senior population in 87 days.

About two weeks ago, the federal government – under the Trump administration – issued new guidance to states to expand vaccine eligibility to adults 65 years old and older, along with health care workers and long-term care residents and staff. But both Florida and West Virginia had adapted their plans to focus on senior populations sooner.

Florida’s vaccination plan has left many frustrated by apparent lack of coordination, but Gov. Ron DeSantis has defended the state’s plan and its emphasis on protecting older people. 

“We put seniors first and other states soon followed,” he said at a press conference.

About a quarter of Florida’s senior population – more than 1.1 million people 65 years or older – had received at least one vaccine dose, according to the state’s latest vaccine report.

In West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice said in a news conference Monday that nearly 74,000 seniors had received at least one dose of vaccine – about 20% of the state’s 65 and older population.

While vaccine administration may be moving faster in some states, the focus on the senior population may not be as high.

In Michigan, for example, vaccine administration is 17% faster than Florida. But only 17% of seniors in the state have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, according to the state’s vaccine dashboard. 

5:53 p.m. ET, January 29, 2021

For some volunteers helping with the Covid-19 vaccination effort, early vaccination is a bonus

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

For the many volunteers helping with the nation’s Covid-19 vaccination effort, whether they can get vaccinated themselves depends on the jurisdiction they are in and how many doses happen to be available on any given day.

The US Department of Health and Human Services amended the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act on Thursday, in a move to broaden the pool of eligible vaccinators across the US.

St. Joseph County in South Bend, Indiana, received more than 1,500 responses to their call for volunteers to help with its vaccination effort.

Dr. Robert Riley, a retired family physician, joined the volunteer effort and received a shot of the Moderna vaccine during his first shift. Riley is 63 and was not providing direct patient care before volunteering, so he would not have otherwise received a vaccine.

Sometimes volunteers are offered doses that remain at the end of the day, but because of supply constraints, the county can only commit to vaccinating those who can volunteer 60 hours over the course of three months, said Robin Vida, the health department’s volunteer coordinator.

Many health systems and providers have had to come up with their own criteria for whether and when volunteers can get vaccinated.

LaKieva Williams helps run Georgia Responds, Georgia’s Covid-19 volunteer response effort. Since March, Williams says more than 7,000 Georgians have signed up to perform both medical and administrative tasks.

The Georgia Department of Health said that as a statewide agency, it cannot guarantee all volunteers priority access to vaccines.

“While I think ideally, you want all of your volunteers to be vaccinated we still have to adhere to the phases in the rollout,” Williams said. “The intent is there, but it’s a matter of supply.”

4:24 p.m. ET, January 29, 2021

Nearly 28 million Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the US, according to new CDC data

From CNN’s Deidre McPhillips

A nurse administers a Covid-19 vaccine to a patient at the Park County Health Department on January 28, in Livingston, Montana.
A nurse administers a Covid-19 vaccine to a patient at the Park County Health Department on January 28, in Livingston, Montana. William Campbell/Getty Images

Nearly 28 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States, according to data published Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC reported that 27,884,661 total doses have been administered – about 57% of the 49,216,500 doses distributed.

Nearly 22.9 million people have now received at least one dose of the vaccine, and about 4.8 million people have been fully vaccinated, CDC data shows. 

Remember: States have 72 hours to report vaccine data, so data published by the CDC may be delayed, and may not necessarily mean all doses were given on the day reported. 

3:26 p.m. ET, January 29, 2021

CDC is currently conducting research to determine if two masks are better than one

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki removes two masks as she arrives for a press briefing at the White House on January 22.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki removes two masks as she arrives for a press briefing at the White House on January 22. Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently experimenting to find out about the effectiveness of wearing two masks. However, what is most critical is that as many people as possible wear one, Dr. John Brooks, chief medical officer for the CDC Covid-19 Response, said during an Infectious Diseases Society of America briefing Friday.

“Experts have proposed using two masks, or double-masking, where you put a cloth mask with a very high thread count over a medical mask,” Brooks said. “When used this way, the medical mask acts as a filter and then the cloth mask over it adds filtration but also helps provide a better fit to the contours of your face and prevents leaking around the edges.”

Brooks said that there is thinking that this specific combination could block over 90% of more of the respiratory droplets, which is near the level of an N95 respirator. 

“Although this strategy may be an excellent solution, we haven’t seen data from experiments yet testing two masks together,” he said. “But CDC scientists today are conducting experiments to evaluate the effectiveness of wearing two masks in this fashion and will share that information as soon as it’s available.”

Brooks shared advice for people who opt to double mask, as well as advice for general mask-wearing, before stressing the importance of as many people as possible wearing them.

“In public health, it is all about choice. The more choices we can offer people, the more likely they are to find something that suits them, and that they’ll adopt,” he said. “Any mask is better than no mask. And regardless of what we use, it’s critical that as many of us as possible mask up.”

3:17 p.m. ET, January 29, 2021

Novavax working on booster shot in response to coronavirus variants

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Alastair Grant/AP
Alastair Grant/AP

Biotechnology company Novavax is developing booster shots to help its Covid-19 vaccine protect against newly emerging variants of the coronavirus.

On Thursday, the company announced its vaccine, known as NVX-CoV2373, was found to have an efficacy of 89.3% in a Phase 3 clinical trial conducted in the UK and the vaccine appeared to demonstrate clinical efficacy against some variants of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the announcement also noted:

"Novavax initiated development of new constructs against the emerging strains in early January and expects to select ideal candidates for a booster and/or combination bivalent vaccine for the new strains in the coming days. The company plans to initiate clinical testing of these new vaccines in the second quarter of this year."
2:16 p.m. ET, January 29, 2021

The National Guard is supporting US vaccination efforts in 38 states

From CNN's Michael Conte and Ellie Kaufman

Washington National Guard personnel prepare to administer Covid-19 vaccinations in Wenatchee, Washington, on January 26.
Washington National Guard personnel prepare to administer Covid-19 vaccinations in Wenatchee, Washington, on January 26. David Ryder/Getty Images

National Guard troops are supporting vaccination efforts in 38 states across the country, giving over 51,000 shots a day.

At least 22,900 members of the National Guard are supporting Covid-19 response efforts at over 260 sites nationwide, Major Gen. Jerry L. Fenwick, director of the Office of the Joint Surgeon and National Guard Bureau, said in a briefing with reporters on Friday.

An additional 44,000 troops are serving in “other domestic operations,” he added.

When asked about how many troops who were sent to Washington, DC, tested positive for Covid-19, DC National Guard Deputy Surgeon General Lt. Col. Paul Tumminello said that it’s “about 2%” of the deployment “at any given time.”

“We’re running folks in and out all the time,” he told reporters on a call, “because of this constant ebb and flow of folks and people… that number is a constant number to kind of chase.”

National Guard Adjutant Generals of Washington, California and Michigan also provided an update on Friday about how they are supporting the Covid-19 response in their respective states, including administering Covid-19 tests in each state, assisting with vaccinating populations in each state and providing additional food for each state.

Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, the adjutant general of California, said that 1,484 National Guard members are on duty in the state of California supporting Covid-19 testing sites.

In Michigan, Major Gen. Paul D. Rogers, the state's adjutant general, said National Guard troops in his state have administered over 215,000 Covid-19 tests and 40,000 vaccinations since Dec. 16. They have also distributed 27 million pounds of food.

Maj. Gen. Bret D. Daugherty, the adjutant general of Washington, said there are between 800 and 1,000 National Guard members deployed in the state right now supporting the Covid-19 response. Their team is “capable of administering about 1,000 shots per day per team,” Daugherty said. He added that they have administered 9,000 shots in the past four days.

1:09 p.m. ET, January 29, 2021

New York will receive 16% more vaccine doses starting next week, governor says

From CNN's Brian Vitagliano

Health workers prepare to administer Covid-19 vaccines at a vaccination site in Harlem, New York, on January 15.
Health workers prepare to administer Covid-19 vaccines at a vaccination site in Harlem, New York, on January 15. Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

New York State will receive 16% more vaccine doses for the next three weeks starting next week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a news conference today.

Cuomo said New York has used all of the allocation that the state has received from weeks 1 through 6 and is now starting to use the 250,400 doses that have been arriving this week.

The governor has asked local governments not to schedule vaccine appointments until they have the allocations in hand.

A mass vaccination site will be opening at Yankee Stadium, but Cuomo did not confirm a date when it will come online.

If the positivity rate continues to hold, New York City can resume indoor dining at 25% capacity on Feb.14, Valentine’s Day, Cuomo said.

Cuomo announced “safe marriage receptions” can resume March 15, following certain guidelines. All patrons that attend an event will have to be tested, venues cannot exceed 50% capacity up to 150 people, and the event must be approved by local health department, Cuomo said.

“We are developing guidance much like marriage receptions where you can do testing and monitoring, and the local health department can monitor it,” Cuomo said 

Cuomo said the numbers are going down: “The post-holiday surge reduction continues," he said.

The New York State positivity rate is 4.65%, the lowest since December 11th, Cuomo said. At least 12,579 positive cases have been reported, there have been 151 deaths, according to the governor, and 73% of all hospital workers have been vaccinated to date.

 

12:10 p.m. ET, January 29, 2021

Coronavirus variants projected to be more dominant in US by the end of March, Fauci says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

from the White House
from the White House

The coronavirus variants circulating globally are projected to become more dominant in the United States by the spring, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a White House news briefing.

"The fact is, when you have a virus that has ability to transmit more efficiently than the wild type in the community — sooner or later, by pure viral dynamics itself — it will become more dominant than the wild type," Fauci said.

"We have a situation where there have now been reported in very specific places, in South Carolina for example, the isolate or the mutant that is the 351 [B.1.351, the Covid-19 variant first spotted in South Africa]," Fauci said. "That seems to have a very good fitness for spread, so whether or not that's going to ultimately take over in the sense of being dominant is unclear by now. The projection that is made with regard to the UK [variant] is that probably by the end of March, the beginning of April, it actually will become more dominant in this country."

12:09 p.m. ET, January 29, 2021

"We should be treating every case as if it's a variant," CDC director says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

from the White House
from the White House

Every Covid-19 case in the United States now should be treated as if it is caused by one of the newly identified coronavirus variants, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a White House news briefing on Friday.

"By the time someone has symptoms, gets a test, has a positive result and we get the sequence, our opportunity for doing real case control and contact tracing is largely gone," Walensky said. "So I think and I believe that we should be treating every case as if it’s a variant during this pandemic right now."