February 14 coronavirus news

By Jenni Marsh, Jessie Yeung, Amy Woodyatt, Melissa Mahtani and Michael Hayes CNN

Updated 6:09 a.m. ET, February 15, 2021
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10:55 a.m. ET, February 14, 2021

It is "absolutely" too early to be getting rid of mask mandates, CDC director says

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

A person opens a door that has signs about masks in New York on January 8.
A person opens a door that has signs about masks in New York on January 8. Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said it it is absolutely too early to be getting rid of mask mandates.

“Absolutely,” Walensky told NBC’s Chuck Todd when he asked about states that were doing this. “We are still at about 100,000 cases a day. We are still at around 1,500 to 3,500 deaths per day. The cases are more than two-and-a-half fold times what we saw over the summer. It’s encouraging to see these trends coming down, but they’re coming down from an extraordinarily high place.”

“If we want to get our children back to school, and I believe we all do, it all depends on how much community spread is out there. We need to all take responsibility to decrease that community spread, including mask wearing, so that we can get our kids and our society back,” Walensky added.

 

10:20 a.m. ET, February 14, 2021

High-risk teachers should have options for virtual learning, CDC director says

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Dr. Rochelle Walensky on February 14.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky on February 14. CNN

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that while the vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for reopening schools, current CDC guidance does specify that those who are at higher risk should have virtual options.

The CDC on Friday released updated guidance for reopening schools.

“We have in the guidance clear language that specifies that teachers that are at higher risk – teachers and students that are higher risk, and their families – should have options for virtual activities, virtual learning, virtual teaching,” Walensky told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

Walensky added guidance from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) puts teachers in the 1b category, which is the same as people over age 75.

“I’m a strong advocate of teachers receiving their vaccinations, but we don’t believe it’s a prerequisite for schools to reopen,” she said. 

10:19 a.m. ET, February 14, 2021

Communities with lower transmission rates will have more "flexibility" to reopen schools, CDC director says

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN's Jake Tapper that she believes school reopening "is directly related to how much disease is in the community." 

She said its important for communities to lower the rate of Covid-19 transmission to safely reopen schools.

"We have more flexibility in opening schools as our disease rates come down," Walensky said. 

Walensky continued: "So I would say this is everybody's responsibility to do their part in the community to get disease rates down so we can get our schools opened."

 

10:14 a.m. ET, February 14, 2021

UK has administered 15 million first doses of Covid-19 vaccine, minister says

From CNN’s Mia Alberti

A health worker administers a Covid-19 vaccine in St Albans, England, on February 8.
A health worker administers a Covid-19 vaccine in St Albans, England, on February 8. Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

The United Kingdom has administered 15 million first doses of Covid-19 vaccine, the minister in charge of the program, Nadhim Zahawi, tweeted Sunday.

"We will not rest till we offer the vaccine to the whole of phase 1," Zahawi wrote, referring to priority groups set out by the government.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson called it a "significant milestone" and an "extraordinary feat." 

"In England I can now tell you we have now offered jabs to everyone in the first four priority groups, the people most likely to be severely ill from Coronavirus, hitting the first target we set ourselves," Johnson wrote.

The British government also plans to give a first dose to the remaining risk groups and adults over 50 by the end of April.

11:04 a.m. ET, February 14, 2021

Everyone who wants a Covid-19 vaccine will be able to get one by the end of summer, CDC director says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

People line up to receive Covid-19 vaccinations at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on January 30.
People line up to receive Covid-19 vaccinations at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on January 30. Irfan Khan/The Los Angeles Times/Shutterstock

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on “Fox News Sunday” that she anticipates every American who wants a Covid-19 vaccine will be able to get one by the end of summer.

“We anticipate by the end of the summer, we will have enough vaccine in order to vaccinate the entire US population that is eligible,” Walensky told Fox News’ Chris Wallace, adding that her primary concern remains vaccine hesitancy.

Once there is enough vaccine, Walensky said, “we very much need to make sure that everybody rolls up their sleeves when it’s their turn, when they’re eligible.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Thursday said that “open season” for vaccination could begin in April, and the majority of Americans could be vaccinated by the middle or the end of the summer.

9:53 a.m. ET, February 14, 2021

Covid-19 cases have declined sharply. Experts say these factors will determine what happens next

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

A tray of syringes filled with Covid-19 vaccine is seen in Los Angeles, on February 11.
A tray of syringes filled with Covid-19 vaccine is seen in Los Angeles, on February 11. Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Despite declining Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations, experts warn: when it comes to the pandemic, the US is not yet out of the woods.

According to the latest model from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, another 130,000 Americans are projected to die of the virus over the next three and a half months,

And while Covid-19 numbers may be trending in the right direction now, there are four key factors that will determine how the next months unfold, the IHME said in a briefing accompanying its model.

The two first factors are things that will help drive pandemic numbers down. They are increasing vaccinations and declining seasonality – referring to the pattern of lower transmission that's likely in the US during the spring and summer months.

"Two factors, however, can slow or even reverse the declines that have begun," the IHME team said.

The first factor is the spread of the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first identified in the UK and experts warned could become the dominant strain in the US by spring. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows more than 980 cases of the variant have so far been detected across 37 states.

The second factor, according to the IHME team, is "increased behaviors that favor COVID-19 transmission."

"Transmission has been contained over the winter through mask wearing, decreased mobility, and avoidance of high-risk settings such as indoor dining," the team said. "As daily case counts decline and vaccination increases, behaviors are likely to change towards increased risk of transmission."

That's why experts say now is not the time for the US to let down its guard, even as a growing list of governors loosen Covid-19 restrictions.

Read the full story here.

9:42 a.m. ET, February 14, 2021

When we can go back to normal "depends on how we behave right now," CDC director says

From CNN's Ben Tinker

As of Sunday morning, there have been more than 27.5 million confirmed Covid-19 cases in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. While the seven-day average of new cases is down significantly week over week, there is still sustained community transmission of the virus across the country.

“Do you think that, by the end of this year, you and I will be able to walk down the street without a mask?” Fox News’ Chris Wallace asked US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on “Fox News Sunday.”

“I think that very much depends on how we behave right now,” Walensky replied. “All of us need to do our part. If we have another surge because we are not taking the proper mitigation strategies, I think it would be foolish for me to project.”
10:57 a.m. ET, February 14, 2021

Iran reports more than 7,300 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Ramin Mostaghim

Iran reported 7,390 new daily coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the country's total number of Covid-19 related cases to 1,518,263.

The new Covid-19 related case infection numbers were announced by Iran’s Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadaat Lari in a news conference on state TV. 

The country also reported 62 new Covid-19 related deaths, bringing the country's death toll to 58,945 on Sunday.

The Health Ministry said 3,709 patients remain hospitalized in ICU. 

Iran is the hardest hit Middle East country by the coronavirus pandemic in total cases and deaths. 

On Tuesday, Iran began its rollout of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, according to a live broadcast on state television. 

Health Minister Saeed Namaki said the top priority groups for vaccination are doctors and nurses working at intensive care units of the hospitals.

The country continues to keep restrictions in place to try to avoid a larger outbreak of cases. 

10:57 a.m. ET, February 14, 2021

Japan approves Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine 

From CNN’s Junko Ogura

Japan has officially approved Pfizer/BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine, the nation’s Health Ministry said on Sunday.

This is the first coronavirus vaccine approved in Japan.

The country received a shipment of roughly 400,000 doses of the vaccine from Belgium on Friday, the Health Ministry added.

Japan is currently witnessing its third wave of coronavirus and has recorded 415,184 confirmed cases as of Saturday.

The country is set to host the Summer Olympic Games in July.