February 12 coronavirus news

By Rob Picheta, Tara John, Cristiana Moisescu, Hannah Strange, Brett McKeehan and Brad Lendon, CNN

Updated 12:03 a.m. ET, February 13, 2021
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4:51 a.m. ET, February 12, 2021

More than 475,000 people have died in the US from coronavirus

From CNN's Alta Spells

The United States reported 103,306 new cases of Covid-19 and 3,724 additional virus-related deaths on Thursday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

That raises the national total to at least 27,390,465 infections and 475,291 fatalities since the pandemic began.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.   

Vaccines: At least 68,285,575 vaccine doses have been distributed and at least 46,390,270 shots administered, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CNN is tracking US cases.

1:20 a.m. ET, February 12, 2021

Australian state of Victoria announces 5-day lockdown, meaning the Australian Open will go ahead without fans

From CNN's Chandler Thornton in Hong Kong

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews speaks at a news conference on February 12, in Melbourne.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews speaks at a news conference on February 12, in Melbourne. Diego Fedele/Getty Images

The entire state of Victoria will undergo a hard five-day lockdown to prevent a cluster of 13 Covid-19 cases from spreading further, Premier Daniel Andrews said.

The cluster is tied to a worker at a quarantine hotel in the capital Melbourne, the state's Health Department said. All 13 cases are the UK variant.

Andrews said the variant "is moving at a velocity that has not been seen anywhere in our country over the course of these last 12 months."

Spectators at sporting events will not be permitted during the lockdown, Andrews said, meaning the Australian Open -- which began Monday -- will continue play without fans.

Tennis Australia, which organizes the Open, said it would continue to "work with the government to ensure the health and safety of everyone" and offer fans refunds for their tickets.

4:52 a.m. ET, February 12, 2021

Nevada announces timetable to end statewide Covid-19 limitations

From CNN’s Andy Rose

Restrictions on gatherings in Nevada will be relaxed from next week as part of a plan to end most statewide rules by summer.

Starting February 15, most businesses and houses of worship will be allowed to have as many as 100 people, or 35% of normal capacity. If coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to decrease, capacity will be raised to 50% on March 15.

 “If we all want to see this transition to local control, let's work together to continue decreasing our community transmission,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday evening.

Statewide capacity restrictions will end on May 1 under the plan, but local governments will be allowed to continue to enforce their own rules.

“Even when we move to local management, specific statewide protocols will remain in place to mitigate the spread, including but not limited to the mask mandate and other social distancing requirements,” Sisolak added.
4:52 a.m. ET, February 12, 2021

San Francisco files emergency court order to reopen public schools

From CNN's Dan Simon

Hundreds of people march to City Hall in San Francisco, California, on February 6 to demand schools reopen in-person education.
Hundreds of people march to City Hall in San Francisco, California, on February 6 to demand schools reopen in-person education. Santiago Mejia/The San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images

The city of San Francisco filed an emergency court order Thursday in an effort to force its public schools to open for in-person instruction, calling the school district's decision to remain closed during the coronavirus pandemic "unconscionable and unlawful" and alleging it had violated children’s constitutional rights.

The action comes on the heels of the city’s lawsuit last week against its own school district.

In the city's filing Thursday in San Francisco Superior Court, attorneys argued a preliminary injunction should be granted on multiple grounds, stating that the San Francisco Unified School District’s “failure to reopen schools violates the constitutional right to attend school."

While public schools in the city have remain shuttered for nearly a year, more than 100 private, parochial and charter schools have reopened, with about 15,000 students and 2,400 staff participating in in-person instruction, city attorneys said in the filing. And despite the return to classrooms, "there have been fewer than five cases of suspected in-school transmission," it said.

Earlier this week, the district reached an agreement with the teacher's union that in-person teaching could resume once all staff were vaccinated. Mayor London Breed said if that agreement stands, it’s likely schools would not resume this school year. City attorneys also took issue with the suggestion all teachers must be vaccinated before in-class instruction could resume.

"The scientific consensus of federal, state and local health officials is that it is safe to return to in-person instruction with basic precautions, like masks, physical distance, handwashing and proper ventilation," San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement. "Vaccines are not a prerequisite."

The city argued remote learning is "having horrific mental health consequences for children," with the University of California, San Francisco Children's Hospital reporting "the highest number of suicidal children seen and treated in the emergency department on record."

A court date has been scheduled for March 22.

##Restrictions#

4:52 a.m. ET, February 12, 2021

Students could see lifelong earnings cut due to extended remote learning, professor says

From CNN's Anna Sturla

A closed public school is seen in New Orleans, Louisiana, on January 5.
A closed public school is seen in New Orleans, Louisiana, on January 5. Lan Wei/Xinhua/Getty Images

Students in the United States could see their lifelong earnings cut by an average of 6% to 9% unless schools are able to make up for learning losses incurred during the pandemic, a Stanford University professor warned on Thursday.

"We really don't know how much harm has yet been caused by this, because it's not over," said Eric Hanushek, Paul and Jean Hanna senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

Hanushek's remarks came during the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Covid-19 Challenges and Opportunities in K-12 Education summit.

"But we do know is that there is a growing cost over time of remote learning and the hybrid systems we have and the lack of actual in-class teaching as we knew it in 2019," Hanushek said.

In August 2020, Eric Hanushek estimated that students from first grade through 12th grade would, on average, lose about 3% of their previously predicted lifelong earnings. That was if all schools returned to normal in September.

Of course, they didn't. Now, he estimates that it will average to be between 6% and 9% -- though that average doesn't reflect how kids with less money and fewer resources will likely suffer more.

Hanushek compared the pandemic to other historical moments where students were out of normal schooling for long periods of time.

Students during Argentina's school strikes or post-war Germany suffered economic losses that marked them decades later, he said.

That spells serious problems for the United States' gross domestic product. In August 2020, Hanushek predicted that GDP would be 1.5% lower on average every year for the rest of the 21st century.

Now, he estimates that it will be 3% to 4% percent lower for the rest of the century.

That can't be remedied by returning to 2019 education methods whenever the pandemic ends, he warned. Instead, America's education system has to make up for the learning loss.

4:53 a.m. ET, February 12, 2021

Biden: US on track to have vaccines for 300 million by end of July

From CNN's Betsy Klein

President Joe Biden speaks at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, on February 11.
President Joe Biden speaks at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, on February 11. Evan Vucci/AP

The United States is on track to have a vaccine supply for 300 million Americans “by the end of July,” President Joe Biden said at the National Institutes of Health on Thursday, stressing the progress that he’s made since taking office three weeks ago.

“Within three weeks, round the clock work with so many people standing behind me and in front of me, we’ve now purchased enough vaccine supply to vaccinate all Americans, and now we’re working to get those vaccines into the arms of millions of people,” Biden said.

Biden also announced Thursday that the US has purchased additional Moderna and Pfizer vaccine.

“Just this afternoon, we signed the final contracts for 100 million more Moderna and 100 million more Pfizer vaccines,” he said.

Biden said that the US is moving up the delivery date for an additional 200 million vaccines to the end of July.

4:53 a.m. ET, February 12, 2021

Vaccines should work against coronavirus variants, NIH lab chief tells Biden

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

President Joe Biden speaks to Dr. Barney S. Graham, left, as Dr. Anthony Fauci listens during a tour of the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, on February 11.
President Joe Biden speaks to Dr. Barney S. Graham, left, as Dr. Anthony Fauci listens during a tour of the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, on February 11. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Existing coronavirus vaccines should work against variants of the virus, a top National Institutes of Health scientist told President Joe Biden Thursday.

Biden visited the NIH Viral Pathogenesis Lab to see where some of the Covid-19 vaccines were designed. Dr. Barney Graham, chief of the lab and deputy director of the Vaccine Research Center at NIH, showed the President several models of the virus to demonstrate how mutations affect its shape.

The genetic mutations that characterize the virus can alter parts of its surface, Graham explained. All viruses mutate, or change, as they live inside people’s bodies.

“You can imagine that some of these surfaces might change and so antibodies might not see it as well anymore," Graham said.

He showed Biden a computer program that represented the mutations as red spots on the surface of the virus.

“When we give the vaccine, it makes antibodies to the entire surface. So one red spot or two red spots or even nine red spots are not going to lose efficacy,” Graham said.

“Antibodies have a lot of places to bind. It may eventually lose efficacy, but I think we are okay for now until additional mutations are accumulated.”