February 8 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Kara Fox and Christopher Johnson, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, February 9, 2021
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6:25 p.m. ET, February 8, 2021

Covid-19 antigen tests still aren't counted among cases in some states, CNN analysis shows

From CNN’s Jacqueline Howard, Deidre McPhillips and Virginia Langmaid

Rapid antigen test results still are not included in the total count of Covid-19 cases for some states — not even as probable cases, as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends.

Five states — California, Colorado, Maryland, Missouri and Nevada — publicly report only cases confirmed with PCR tests in their online tallies, according to a CNN analysis of health department dashboards across all 50 states. 

Some states only report polymerase chain reaction test results in their Covid-19 case numbers and exclude antigen test results since antigen tests are generally seen as less accurate. But as antigen testing ramps up in the United States, this exclusion could lead to potential miscounts.

In California, CNN was told that antigen Covid-19 test results are required to be reported to local health departments and to the California Department of Public Health. But publicly reported Covid-19 testing data only reflects results from diagnostic tests that detect the coronavirus' genetic material, such as PCR — polymerase chain reaction — tests.

CNN requested antigen testing data from the state's department of public health, but was told in an email that "antigen test results are not being publicly reported statewide at this time."

Across the four remaining states, the data they each shared with CNN represent about 10,000 positive Covid-19 antigen test results reported over just a small sampling of days in January.

If included in reported case counts, those positive antigen test results would increase Covid-19 cases reported by those states between 5% and 50% in that time, according to CNN's analysis.

Some experts worry that in the future, not publicly reporting “probable” cases, as CDC recommends, could paint a skewed portrait of the true spread of disease for residents in a state. 

"Antigen-based tests are not necessarily the majority of all the tests that are being performed everywhere and so it's unlikely that we're getting a dramatically wrong estimate, as of right now — also because most states are reporting them. But there is the risk going forward," Dr. David Dowdy, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told CNN last week. 

"I think that more and more of these antigen based tests are being used," he said. "So there's certainly a risk going forward that if these are not reported consistently, that we're going to see an underestimate of the number of Covid cases in the country, and particularly in those states that are not reporting them."
5:21 p.m. ET, February 8, 2021

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will quarantine after security agent tests positive

From CNN's Greg Wallace

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will quarantine for 14 days after a member of his security detail tested positive for Covid-19, Laura Schiller, chief of staff for the Department of Transportation, said in a statement.

The agent was in “close contact” with Buttigieg as recently as Monday morning, Schiller’s statement said.

Buttigieg tested negative Monday morning and has not shown any symptoms, the statement said.

Buttigieg received his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, and Schiller said he will receive the second dose when he completes the quarantine period.

An additional member of the security team will also quarantine due to close contacts with the agent.

5:03 p.m. ET, February 8, 2021

New Jersey has administered more than 1 million Covid-19 vaccines, governor says

From CNN’s Anna Sturla

Vaccination stations are seen at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison, New Jersey, on January 15.
Vaccination stations are seen at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison, New Jersey, on January 15. Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

New Jersey has administered more than 1 million Covid-19 vaccine doses as of Monday, Gov. Phil Murphy announced during a news conference. 

The state administered 1,037,657 doses by mid-morning, with a goal of 4.7 million vaccinated residents by early summer.

New Jersey residents began receiving doses on Dec. 15, with vaccinations accelerating in recent weeks despite snowstorms, the governor added.

The latest Covid-19 numbers: The state's most recent positivity rate was 8.5%.

More state-monitored schools returned to in-person and hybrid instruction, with 190 remaining all-remote, a decrease of 23 from the week before, according to Murphy.

The governor also announced that previously scheduled school and municipal elections taking place in late spring are expected to be in-person.

Note: These numbers were released by the state’s health agency, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.


4:09 p.m. ET, February 8, 2021

Two Sumatran tigers at an Indiana zoo test positive for Covid-19

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Two Sumatran tigers at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo in Indiana have tested positive for Covid-19, the zoo announced in a release.

Veterinarian staff received the tigers’ positive test results Friday, after care staff had reported one of the Sumatran tigers showing mild symptoms consistent with Covid-19 on Feb. 1, the release said.

“Bugara, the male Sumatran tiger, has been experiencing a dry cough, and Indah, the female Sumatran tiger, has not shown symptoms at this time” Dr. Kami Fox, the zoo’s staff veterinarian said. “Both tigers are being watched for any additional clinical signs and remain together in their enclosure."

According to the zoo, the source of the tigers’ infection is still unknown and they are working with the Allen County Department of Health and the State Board of Animal Health to identify potential sources. 

Among other extra precautions, the zoo is now restricting access to the tiger holding area and has increased PPE requirements for their care staff, in addition to following guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and recommendations by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan, the release said.

According to the release, no other animals at the Children’s Zoo have been tested for Covid-19 so far.

3:49 p.m. ET, February 8, 2021

Analysis suggests vaccinations are helping decline of Covid-19 in nursing homes

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

New Covid-19 cases among nursing home residents and staff have dropped more than 50% in about four weeks, according to a CNN analysis of the latest data published by the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The data captured cases reported between the week ending Dec. 20 and the week ending Jan. 24.

A separate analysis by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living found that new Covid-19 cases have dropped twice as fast in those nursing homes that held early vaccination clinics. 

Last week, CMS said it was too soon to link the ongoing decreases in nursing home cases to vaccination efforts.

A federal program to vaccinate long-term care facility residents and staff held its first vaccination clinics during the week of Dec. 19. Three weeks later, new Covid-19 cases among residents had declined 48% in nursing homes that participated in the first week of vaccine clinics, compared to a 21% decline in nursing homes that did not have a clinic that first week. 

Similarly, new Covid-19 cases among staff declined 33% in those facilities that participated in the first week of vaccine clinics, compared to 18% in those that did not have a clinic that first week. 

The AHCA/NCAL analysis, published last week, only assessed those nursing homes that enrolled in the Federal Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, including 797 facilities that held vaccination clinics in the first week and 1,709 facilities in the same set of counties that did not. 

“The decline in new cases three weeks after the first dose, compared to facilities having vaccine clinics later, is encouraging and signals that the vaccine may decrease the spread of COVID, a finding not shown in the trials. If verified with additional data, this could expedite the reopening of long term care facilities to visitors, which is vital to residents’ health and wellbeing,” said Dr. David Gifford, chief medical officer for AHCA/NCAL. “Given the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has on long term care residents, we must continue to prioritize vaccinating the elderly in these settings.”
3:33 p.m. ET, February 8, 2021

EU chief calls on member states to donate Covid-19 vaccines to Ukraine 

From CNN’s Rob Iddiols

European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen at the European Parliament in Brussels on January 20, 2021.
European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen at the European Parliament in Brussels on January 20, 2021. Francisco Seco/POOL/AFP/Getty Images

The President of the European Commission called on EU member states to donate some of their coronavirus vaccine supply to Ukraine. 

"On top of Covax, I have also asked our member states to donate part of their doses to Ukraine," European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in a video address at a conference held in Kiev on Monday. 

Covax is an initiative to provide equitable global access to Covid-19 vaccines and is led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the World Health Organization. 

“Thanks to Covax, Ukraine's doctors and nurses will receive the first vaccines already this month. Millions of other doses will reach Ukraine by the summer," von der Leyen said. "We will stop the pandemic only if we contain the virus in all our countries. We Europeans are all together in this,” she added. 

The EU has faced criticism for its handling of the vaccine rollout across the continent. Von der Leyen did not elaborate on what the donations to Ukraine – a non-EU country – would mean for the bloc. 

More about Ukraine: Ukraine has a population of approximately 40 million people. It is awaiting delivery of eight million vaccine doses promised under the United Nations Covax program, and up to five million doses of the Chinese CoronaVac vaccine. The country will begin the first phase of its Covid-19 inoculation program this month, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced during the conference. 

The 43-year-old leader, who experienced mild symptoms of the coronavirus last year, said he was ready to get inoculated to encourage others to do the same. 

"As with the majority of world leaders, I am ready to show people by personal example that vaccination is important, it is safe, it is needed," Zelensky said. 

Ukraine has recorded over 1.2 million cases and more than 23,000 deaths from Covid-19.  

2:52 p.m. ET, February 8, 2021

Massachusetts governor calls on Congress to pass Covid-19 relief 

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker called on Congress to act on Covid-19 relief, saying, "there are still substantial financial challenges that we face as a Commonwealth and that other states across the country are facing as well." 

"It would be critical, from our point of view, for Congress to pass significant relief swiftly to help us beat down the pandemic and just as importantly, help our economy get back on track," Baker, a Republican, said during a briefing Monday. 

"While hundreds of thousands of residents have returned to work over the past few months, there's still way too many people out of work through no fault of their own," he said, adding that Massachusetts is still down 330,000 jobs from this time last year. 

"We're now in a much better economic spot than we were last spring, but many of our residents are still unable to find a job, and our main streets are hurting, and many small businesses have not recovered from the pandemic and won't for months," Baker said.

The governor was joined by Democratic Rep. Richard Neal, who represents Massachusetts' first congressional district and is also the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, to promote President Biden's Covid-19 relief package. 

3:51 p.m. ET, February 8, 2021

More than 42 million Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the US, according to CDC data

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

A Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is being administered at the Doolittle Senior Center on February 3, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. 
A Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is being administered at the Doolittle Senior Center on February 3, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Ethan Miller/Getty Images

About 42.4 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the US, according to data published Monday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The CDC reported that 42,417,617 total doses have been administered – about 72% of the 59,307,800 doses distributed. That’s about 1.2 million more administered doses reported since yesterday, for a seven-day average of nearly 1.5 million doses per day.

About 10% of the US population – more than 32.3 million people – have now received at least one dose of the vaccine, and about 9.5 million people have been fully vaccinated, CDC data shows.

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

2:29 p.m. ET, February 8, 2021

US committee releases details of their contribution to Covid-19 stimulus bill

From CNN's Lauren Fox and Annie Grayer

The House Committee on Education and Labor – one of the 12 committees contributing to the reconciliation package – released the top lines of what their committee would be contributing to the Covid relief bill as the bill takes shape.

These are the highlights:

  • Nearly $130 billion to help K-12 schools to help students and educators return to the classroom safely, with at least 20% of the funding used to address learning loss. 
  • $40 billion for institutions of higher education to help them make up for lost revenue as the result of campus closures. Institutions will be required to dedicated “at least half” of their funding for emergency financial aid grants.
  • $39 billion to child care providers and $1 billion for the Head Start program to help the struggling child care system.

The two pager also highlights their call to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, a growing flashpoint as negotiations on the relief package continue to take shape.

You can read more about the Democrats' efforts to pass a stimulus bill here.