February 5 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Jo Shelley, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 12:42 AM ET, Sat February 6, 2021
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11:16 p.m. ET, February 5, 2021

Slight decline in Covid-19 cases isn’t due to coronavirus vaccinations, Fauci explains

From CNN Health's Andrea Diaz

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 21.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 21. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Covid-19 cases are showing a slight decline in the United States, but this doesn't mean it's because vaccinations have been taking place. Instead, it's because the surge that came with holiday season activities is stabilizing, Dr. Anthony Fauci explained.

"I don't think that the fact that we're beginning to vaccinate people has yet contributed to that slight decline, because we haven't vaccinated enough people yet," Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on MSNBC's "The Beat" Friday. 

Here's a quick rundown:

  • In early January, the 7-day moving average reached 250,000 cases per day.
  • This week, the 7-day moving average this week stayed below 150,000 cases per day.
  • New cases of Covid-19 were down by 15% from last week.
"What I think is going on, a combination of the natural peaking, as well as people doubling down on the public health measure," Fauci said. "I believe it's entirely conceivable that a combination of continuing with that trend, as well as we get more and more people vaccinated, as we go from February, to March, to April, I think you're going to see that [cases] continue to come way down."

 Fauci also said that right now "the only wild card" is that we have Covid-19 variants in the country.

 

9:06 p.m. ET, February 5, 2021

Kroger will provide a one-time payment to employees who get a Covid-19 vaccine 

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch and Jessica Jordan 

Kristoffer Tripplaar/Sipa/AP
Kristoffer Tripplaar/Sipa/AP

The Kroger company announced it will provide a one-time payment of $100 to all employees who receive the full manufacturer-recommended doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.  

In addition to the vaccine payment, the company is also giving a "Thank You" reward to associates, including a $100 store credit and 1,000 fuel points for hourly frontline grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy, and call center associates.

Associates who are not able to take the vaccine due to medical or religious reasons will have the option of completing an education health and safety course to receive payment, a company news release said. 

“Since March, we have invested more than $1.5 billion to both reward our associates and to safeguard our associates and customers through the implementation of dozens of safety measures that we continue to execute today. We’ve also welcomed more than 100,000 new associates to The Kroger Family of Companies. As we move into a new phase of the pandemic, we’re increasing our investment to not only recognize our associates’ contributions, but also encourage them to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as it becomes available to them to optimize their well-being as well as the community’s,” Tim Massa, Kroger's senior vice president and chief people officer, said in the release. 

The company is also playing a large part in vaccine distribution across the country. As of Feb. 5, Kroger Health professionals have administered more than 200,000 Covid-19 vaccines to essential health care workers, skilled-nursing facility employees and residents and some elderly populations.

6:54 p.m. ET, February 5, 2021

South Dakota approves dentists to administer Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN’s Chris Boyette

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed an executive order Friday allowing dentists with experience giving injections to administer vaccines for Covid-19.

The order temporarily suspends state rules stipulating dentists can only prescribe or administer drugs for dental-related conditions and specifies dentists who wish to administer the Covid-19 vaccine can only do so as a volunteer at a Department of Health vaccination site.

A report released by the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy and National Governors Association in December cited 20 states that are considering recruiting non-traditional providers, including students, dentists, veterinarians, and paramedics.

The American Dental Association says dentists are cleared to give the vaccine in multiple states, including Oregon, where the first dentist in the US to administer a Covid-19 vaccine did so in December. Last month, California approved an emergency waiver allowing dentists to administer Covid-19 vaccines.

6:45 p.m. ET, February 5, 2021

Here's the latest on the number of vaccines administered in the US

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

A dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is administered at Cal Poly Pomona University in Pomona, California, on February 5. 
A dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is administered at Cal Poly Pomona University in Pomona, California, on February 5.  Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

A total of 36,819,212 doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the US, about 63% of the 58,380,300 doses distributed, according to data published Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The seven-day average of about 1.3 million doses per day. 

Nearly 29 million people have now received at least one dose of the vaccine and about 7.5 million people have been fully vaccinated, CDC data showed. 

To note: Data published by the CDC may be delayed, and doses may not have been given on the day reported. 

Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated the number of vaccine doses that have been administered and distributed. A total of 36,819,212 doses have been administered, about 63% of the 58,380,300 doses distributed.

5:48 p.m. ET, February 5, 2021

California surpasses 43,000 Covid-19 deaths

From CNN's Jessica Myers

Funeral director Kristy Oliver and funeral attendant Sam Deras load the casket of a person who died after contracting Covid-19 into a hearse at East County Mortuary on January 15 in El Cajon, California
Funeral director Kristy Oliver and funeral attendant Sam Deras load the casket of a person who died after contracting Covid-19 into a hearse at East County Mortuary on January 15 in El Cajon, California Mario Tama/Getty Images

California surpassed 43,000 total Covid-19-related deaths Friday, becoming only the second state to reach the grim milestone since the start of the pandemic as it continues to see a wave of deaths following a catastrophic surge of infections over the holidays.

The somber new tally came on the same day the state announced it had administered its four millionth vaccine dose, ramping up efforts to administer the shots in a race against new coronavirus variants and jump-starting plans toward reopening.

California has administered vaccines “far more than any other state,” Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday. Nearly 1 million shots were given last week and over 1 million people were vaccinated in California this week alone, he said.

“Speed, equity, and safety continue to be our top priorities,” Newsom said in a statement.

This news comes after 558 more fatalities were reported in the Golden State Friday, putting it on track to potentially surpass hard-hit New York with the highest number of Covid-19-related deaths in the US as soon as next week.

To note: These numbers were released by the California Department of Public Health and may not line up exactly in real-time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

4:56 p.m. ET, February 5, 2021

Houston is prioritizing Covid-19 vaccine for underserved communities

From CNN’s Chuck Johnston and Chris Boyette

A nurse prepares a dose of Covid-19 vaccine in Houston, Texas, on January 3.
A nurse prepares a dose of Covid-19 vaccine in Houston, Texas, on January 3. Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle/AP

The Houston Health Department announced Friday it will continue to prioritize its Covid-19 vaccine supply for “vulnerable populations” and “underserved communities” as it receives additional vaccine allotments and will add new appointments to its Area Agency on Aging waitlist for the week of Feb. 8.

All appointments are currently full based on supply, the health department said, but it received 9,000 additional doses Friday and expects 1,600 Monday. 

Of those additional doses, 6,391 are planned for the department’s Area Agency on Aging, 3,850 for providers in underserved communities, and 359 for previously scheduled appointments, according to the department.

The health department also said it continues text message and email outreach to follow-up with those who need to make second dose appointments.

3:43 p.m. ET, February 5, 2021

Belgium extends lockdown to April 1

From CNN's James Frater

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo speaks during a press conference in Brussels on February 5.
Prime Minister Alexander De Croo speaks during a press conference in Brussels on February 5. Frederic Sierakowski/Pool/Belga Mag/AFP/Getty Images

Belgium's lockdown measures have been extended to April 1, but some restrictions will be relaxed from Feb. 13, the prime minister announced at a news conference today.

Hairdressers will be allowed to reopen on Feb. 13 under strict conditions, and other non-medical contact professions such as beauticians and tattoo artists can reopen from March 1. Bars and restaurants, which have been closed since last October, will remain closed, as well as other communal facilities.

“The coronavirus situation in our country has been fairly stable since the beginning of December, we have seen that hospital admissions are decreasing, and the number of deaths is decreasing, but on the other hand, we see that the number of confirmed infections remains approximately at the same level,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said.

De Croo attributed the stability in cases to people following the rules, and said they will have to be "particularly careful with the situation" if measures are relaxed.

"We have asked the experts to lay out a clear path, taking into account not only the number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths, but also the state of the vaccinations, in particular of vulnerable groups,” De Croo added. 

Belgian authorities clarified in a statement that while the extension could be in place until April 1, it “does not mean that no interim decisions or revisions are possible.”

3:38 p.m. ET, February 5, 2021

Greece tightens Covid-19 restrictions in parts of the country following case increase

From CNN’s Chris Liakos and Duarte Mendonça

People make their way past a meat market in Athens, Greece, on February 2.
People make their way past a meat market in Athens, Greece, on February 2. Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty Images

Greece will tighten Covid-19 lockdown restrictions in parts of the country, including the capital Athens and the country’s second largest city, Thessaloniki, the Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias announced on Friday. 

The new measures will begin on Saturday and last until Feb. 15, following an increase in daily cases in both regions this week.

The new measures include a strict weekend curfew starting at 6 p.m. local time, and the closing of high schools, sending students back to e-learning, Hardalias said.

He added that only grocery stores, supermarkets, pharmacies and bakeries will remain open during the weekend.

3:25 p.m. ET, February 5, 2021

Here's where Covid-19 relief stands in Congress and what happens next

From CNN's Ted Barrett, Paul LeBlanc and Clare Foran

The budget resolution that passed in both chambers of Congress is not the Covid-19 relief bill. It simply sets the stage for Democrats to be able to use a process known as "budget reconciliation" to pass the relief bill on a party-line vote, possibly in late February or March, after the impeachment trial of former President Trump is complete in the Senate.

Embedded in the budget resolution are reconciliation instructions for multiple congressional committees to formally draft and approve legislation on things like funds for vaccine production and distribution, unemployment insurance, stimulus checks and more.

The House already passed the budget measure earlier in the week. But because it was amended in the Senate forcing the House to revote on it Friday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that next week, they will begin working on the specifics of the bill, and predicted that the House will send a bill to the Senate "hopefully in a two week period of time," so that "this will be done long before the due date" of the expiration of unemployment insurance in March.

Biden has said he is willing to go forward without the support of Republicans, but he's also stressed that he's willing to make certain concessions if it will earn bipartisan support.

A Biden aide told CNN Friday the Senate's passage of the resolution is a "positive step forward" and that the White House is "looking forward to continued progress to getting assistance to the American people."

Congressional Democrats have also made clear that they think time is of the essence on the proposal, and a deep divergence remains between Biden's $1.9 trillion and the $618 billion GOP proposal.

The counterproposal still includes $160 billion to battle the pandemic, but Republican senators want to send smaller, more targeted relief checks and only extend unemployment benefits through June, not September.

Reconciliation has been used many times by both parties to pass controversial legislation over the objections of the minority party, including then-President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act in 2010 and Trump's sweeping tax cuts in 2017.