March 2 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Brett McKeehan, Rob Picheta, Kareem Khadder and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 2:11 AM ET, Wed March 3, 2021
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3:35 p.m. ET, March 2, 2021

Alaska will receive 8,900 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine

From CNN's Juliana Battaglia

Alaska has ordered 8,900 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson Vaccine, the state's chief medical officer, Anne Zink, tweeted Tuesday.

From that total, 3,000 vaccines will be allocated to Native American tribes for the Sovereign Nations Supplement, Zink explained in an email to CNN.

The state's Federal Pharmacy Partnership will also receive doses of the vaccine. 

"Currently, we can see that the federal pharmacy partnership has been allocated 1800 doses of J&J/Janssen for Alaska to start," Zink said. 

She noted that this number is separate and in addition to the 8,900 doses the state is expecting.

However, Zink noted that the exact time of arrival and administration of the doses is unknown.

3:55 p.m. ET, March 2, 2021

CNN interviews 86-year-old Ohio patient who just received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine

From CNN's Pete Muntean and Greg Wallace

CNN
CNN

CNN's Pete Muntean is in the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio, speaking to individuals who just received their first Johnson and Johnson single-dose vaccine.

He spoke to 86-year-old Barbara Schmalenberger about her experience getting vaccinated today.

"Oh, it's exciting. It's great, and I don't even feel a thing. A while ago just a little bit of warmth and then that was it. It faded away and — and I don't even feel like I had a shot now," she said.

Schmalenberger told him why she had specifically been waiting for the Johnson and Johnson shot.

"It's better because it's one shot and also a very trusted name from clear back from when my children were babies, so it's just – something just kept telling me to wait on this," she said.

She said her journey to get vaccinated has been emotional.

“I called yesterday and I was on the phone with them a long time, I was crying because I was upset because I couldn't find out when I could get this shot and I wanted this shot. I didn't want to settle for anything else," she told CNN.

Schmalenberger also shared a message for people who may be reluctant to get a vaccine. 

"You need to get it because it protects you, with all these viruses and everything going around, people can't be what they want to be. They can't go out. They can't do things. I haven't been able to go out to dinner in a restaurant like I love to do and all of those things, and for your health you need to get it, but also, too, get the one that you're the most – you feel the best about, and I felt the best about this from day one," she said.

More about the vaccine: Johnson & Johnson's single-dose coronavirus vaccine is the third Covid-19 shot authorized for use in the US. The US Food and Drug Administration authorized the vaccine Saturday, and it began to be administered across the country this week.

The vaccine, made by Janssen, ,J&J's vaccine arm, was found to be safe and effective, and it doesn't require special storage. The vaccine is authorized for people ages 18 and older.

CNN's Jen Christensen contributed reporting to this post.

Watch the moment here:

3:14 p.m. ET, March 2, 2021

Texas governor ends statewide mask mandate

From CNN’s Chris Boyette

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a press conference in Lubbock, Texas, on March 2.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a press conference in Lubbock, Texas, on March 2. KCBD

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Tuesday that rescinds most of the previous executive orders dealing with Covid-19, including the statewide mask mandate.

“It is clear from the recoveries, from the vaccinations, from the reduced hospitalizations and from the safe practices that Texans are using, that state mandates are no longer needed,” Abbott said at a news conference.

Also, effective March 10, all businesses of any kind are allowed to open 100%, the governor said.

1:11 p.m. ET, March 2, 2021

In final step, CDC publishes Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine recommendation

From CNN's Jen Christensen

This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States.
This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. Johnson & Johnson/AP

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took the final step to sign off on the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine Tuesday, publishing the vaccine recommendation in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine was given emergency use authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration Saturday. On Sunday, the CDC’s independent Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices unanimously voted to recommend the coronavirus vaccine, and CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky accepted the recommendation. 

The MMWR publication represents the final and official CDC recommendation for immunization of the US population.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the first single-dose Covid-19 vaccine authorized in the United States. It can be used to vaccinate Americans who are 18 years old and older.

The report said that the vaccine, made by Janssen, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine division, “is a reasonable and efficient allocation of resources” during the pandemic.

“The Janssen COVID-19 vaccine has high efficacy against COVID-19–associated hospitalization and death. Persons may receive any ACIP-recommended COVID-19 vaccine and are encouraged to receive the earliest vaccine available to them. Use of all EUA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines is critical in controlling the pandemic,” the report said.

The CDC did not recommend the vaccine for one population group over the other, but its characteristics – the single dose that doesn’t need special refrigeration – should help states expand the availability of Covid-19 vaccines to “most community settings and mobile sites” once it is more widely available. The report also said the J&J vaccine might be good for people who would have a hard time returning to get a second dose, as would be needed for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

“The feasibility of administering the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in a wider variety of settings provides an opportunity to improve equitable access to an effective COVID-19 vaccine,” the report said.

Four million doses of the vaccine are now being shipped to the states. 

1:06 p.m. ET, March 2, 2021

White House is increasing weekly vaccine supply to 15.2 million doses per week

From CNN's Betsy Klein

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House on March 2 in Washington, DC.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House on March 2 in Washington, DC. Evan Vucci/AP

The White House announced another increase in vaccine supply amid the push to gets shots into American arms. 

Vaccine supply will be increased for states, tribes, and territories from 14.5 to 15.2 million doses per week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. She noted that states are also receiving 2.8 million Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses this week, for a total of 18 million doses this week.

The weekly supply to states, tribes, and territories was 8.6 million when Biden assumed office in January.

Governors were informed of the increase during a weekly meeting Tuesday, she said.

Psaki also confirmed that later Tuesday, President Biden will announce what she described as an “unprecedented, historic step,” the partnership between competitor pharmaceutical companies Merck and Johnson & Johnson to ramp up vaccine production. The federal government will be involved in the partnership and has invoked the Defense Production Act.

“The US government will facilitate this partnership in several key ways, including invoking the Defense Production Act, to equip two Merck facilities to the standards necessary to safely manufacture the vaccine, and asking the Department of Defense to provide live, daily logistical support to strengthen Johnson & Johnson’s efforts,” she said.

The Defense Production Act, Psaki later noted, has been invoked to implement fill finish capacity and drug substance availability.

 

1:03 p.m. ET, March 2, 2021

CDC guidance for people who have been fully vaccinated expected later this week

From CNN's John Bonifield

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will release guidance for people who have been fully vaccinated when it is finalized later this week, a CDC official tells CNN.

The official confirmed the broad themes contained in the guidance, which were first reported by Politico.

The guidance is reported to include a recommendation that fully vaccinated people limit their social interactions to small home gatherings with other fully vaccinated people. It reportedly will also recommend that fully vaccinated people continue to wear masks in public and practice social distancing. Additionally, it reportedly will include scenarios for Americans to consider when making plans, including travel.

11:58 a.m. ET, March 2, 2021

Mass US vaccination sites will be able to take 6,000 people a day, official says

From CNN's Geneva Sands

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks at a FEMA-supported vaccination center in Philadelphia on March 2.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks at a FEMA-supported vaccination center in Philadelphia on March 2. CNN

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said a new Federal Emergency Management Agency-supported vaccination site in Philadelphia, and other ones like it around the US, will be able to vaccinate up to 6,000 people a day. 

As of today, FEMA has setup more than 500 federally supported community vaccination centers and that number is "growing," Mayorkas said speaking at the Pennsylvania Convention Center – the location of one of FEMA’s Community Vaccination Center pilot facilities.

This was Mayorkas' first trip outside of Washington, DC, since taking office and he told reporters he had received the vaccine. 

"It is important that people understand that the vaccine is safe. I have been vaccinated and you should feel comfortable being vaccinated as soon as you are possibly able to do so," he said.

Mayorkas also issued a message to undocumented immigrants, saying Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection "will not conduct immigration enforcement operations at or near vaccine distribution sites or clinics."

He said race, ethnicity, access to transportation or immigration status should not impact access to the vaccine. 

The Center City Vaccination Center in Philadelphia is one of FEMA's mass vaccination sites. It will open on March 3 and is staffed largely by uniformed military personnel, freeing up local staff, according to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.

The vaccine being used at the facility is provided from a federal allotment, the mayor said, allowing the city to use its allotment elsewhere in the city. 

Kenney also took a dig at the Trump administration, saying, "imagine that, the White House is now actually trying to save lives. What a difference that makes." 

11:38 a.m. ET, March 2, 2021

Nearly 70% of Americans want to get a Covid-19 vaccine as soon as the can or already have, poll shows 

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

A nurse picks up a Moderna Covid-19 vaccine that is ready to be administered at a vaccination site at Kedren Community Health Center in Los Angeles on February 16.
A nurse picks up a Moderna Covid-19 vaccine that is ready to be administered at a vaccination site at Kedren Community Health Center in Los Angeles on February 16. Apu Gomes/AFP/Getty Images

Nearly 70% of Americans are likely to get the vaccine as soon as it is available to them or have already gotten it, according to new poll results from Axios-Ipsos published Tuesday. 

The poll found that 68% of Americans said that they were likely to get the vaccine as soon as it was available, or have already gotten it.

The number of Americans saying they’re not at all likely to get the vaccine – 21% – remains essentially unchanged since January, but the number saying they’re not very likely to – 10% – has decreased by nine points since earlier in the year, according to the poll conducted Feb. 26 to March 1 and based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,088 adults age 18 and up. 

People with a college degree and Democrats expressed the greatest interest in getting vaccinated. 

Nearly one-quarter – 23% – of respondents have gotten at least one vaccine dose, up from 19% last week and 3% in the Jan. 11 poll. Half – 53% – of those age 65 and older have gotten at least one shot. 

Higher rates of vaccination were reported by those who were college educated (29%), more affluent, with a $50,000 or higher household income (25%), and white (25%.) This can be compared to those with a high school education or less (16%), less affluent, with a household income lower than $50,000 (18%), or Black (19%) and Hispanic (17%). 

Three quarters of the respondents – 75% – also said that it’s very or somewhat important for teachers to get fully vaccinated before going back to school to teach. 

11:35 a.m. ET, March 2, 2021

New York City mayor pushes state to expand vaccine eligibility

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press briefing in New York on March 2.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press briefing in New York on March 2. NYC Media

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called for the state to expand vaccination eligibility to include sanitation workers, lifeguards, district attorneys, courtroom staff, board of elections staff, building inspectors and New York City Housing Authority frontline staff among others. 

“The state of New York is not keeping up with the need to update… these eligibility categories,” he said during a briefing Tuesday.

De Blasio also announced that in an effort to enhance equity of distribution of the vaccine, a new vaccination site will open in Co-Op city in the Bronx Thursday.

“The Bronx has been very hard hit by the Covid crisis,” he said adding the “Bronx is often overlooked.”

The city’s top health adviser Dr. Jay Varma discussed the variants during the briefing in an effort to quell concerns.

“There may be a day when we have to do something different because of it, but right now so far the answer is clear; there’s nothing different we need people to do in New York," he said.

“Everything we know about the virus and our vaccines right now says getting vaccinated is the single best way to prevent getting severe illness and dying from this virus, and it’s the single best path all of us have together to getting back to the things we love,” Varma said.

New York City is tracking the spread of variants and also examining for new ones, with the capacity to sequence over two thousand specimens a week, he added.

New York City added 211 patients for suspected Covid-19 – which is “finally” getting close to the 200 threshold that the city desires, the mayor explained. 

The hospitalization rate is 4.3 per 100,000 people which is “still high” the mayor cautioned. The city added 3,558 confirmed and probable Covid cases, marking a 6.09% positivity both on a 7 day rolling average.