March 10 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott and Kara Fox, CNN

Updated 2:18 AM ET, Thu March 11, 2021
22 Posts
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11:14 a.m. ET, March 10, 2021

Variants first found in New York and UK account for more than half of NYC Covid-19, health officials say

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

Preliminary data shows that the coronavirus variant first identified in New York, B1526, “is a more infectious variant" and coupled with the variant first identified in the UK, accounts for 51% of all cases in New York City at present, city health officials said Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, we have found that the new variants of Covid-19 are continuing to spread, and when you combine the variant of concern B117, the one first reported in the UK and the new variant of interest, B1526 that was first reported here in New York, together these new variants account for 51% of all cases that we have in the city right now,” the city’s top health advisor Jay Varma said Wednesday.

Preliminary analysis indicates that the B1526 variant first identified in New York, “is probably more infectious than older strains of the virus,” Varma said. “It may be similar in infectiousness to the B117, the UK strain, but we're not certain about this yet.”

The variant identified in New York in particular “is increasing in prevalence across New York city, representing about 39% of all samples sequenced by the pandemic response lab” compared to 31% the week prior, according to New York City Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi. “The increasing prevalence suggests the B1526 variant is a more infectious variant.”

Varma notes preliminary analysis does not show that the variant first identified in New York causes more severe illness or reduces the effectiveness of vaccines.

“It’s important to emphasize of course this is preliminary” he said as the city works with the state and health officials across the country.

A couple weeks ago, two separate teams of researchers said they found a worrying new coronavirus variant in New York City and elsewhere in the Northeast that carries mutations that help it evade the body's natural immune response — as well as the effects of monoclonal antibody treatments.

11:41 a.m. ET, March 10, 2021

New recommendations mark first step toward a return to pre-pandemic life, CDC director and colleagues say

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

A person receives a Covid-19 vaccine on March 9 in North Miami, Florida.
A person receives a Covid-19 vaccine on March 9 in North Miami, Florida.  Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The new recommendations for fully vaccinated people mark the first step toward a return to pre-pandemic life, but some precautions are still essential, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and colleagues wrote in a JAMA Viewpoint article published Wednesday.

The CDC released long-awaited guidelines Monday, offering limited freedoms for people who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

“Day by day, arm by arm, millions of vaccines are being administered across the US in the largest vaccination effort in this country’s history. As vaccine supply increases, and distribution and administration systems expand and improve, more and more people will become fully vaccinated and eager to resume their prepandemic lives,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and CDC officials Drs. Sarah Mbaeyi and Athalia Christie write. “Giving vaccinated people the ability to safely visit their family and friends is an important step toward improved well-being and a significant benefit of vaccination.” 

The team notes that more than 31 million people – 9.4% of the total population – have completed a vaccination series. These people now have a reduced risk of severe illness or death from Covid-19.

“In addition, preliminary but rapidly increasing evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people likely pose little risk of transmission to unvaccinated people,” Walensky and colleagues write.

In creating the guidelines, the CDC considered the risks to both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. As many people remain unvaccinated, public health precautions are still important, they note.

“CDC guidance will evolve as vaccination coverage increases, disease dynamics in the country change, and new data emerge,” the team writes. “With high levels of community transmission and the threat of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, CDC still recommends a number of prevention measures for all people, regardless of vaccination status.”

The agency still recommends all people wear masks, avoid large gatherings and postpone travel. It also stresses the importance of community-level prevention strategies, such as universal mask mandates and occupancy restrictions.

“Once vaccinated people make up a greater proportion of the general US population, these community-level restrictions will be readdressed, but not yet,” the team wrote.

While Covid-19 vaccines offer a path toward ending the pandemic, increasing vaccine access and confidence is essential, Walensky and colleagues note.

10:20 a.m. ET, March 10, 2021

A mask mandate could help this Texas restaurant owner keep his restaurant and his life

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Texas restaurant owner Mike Nguyen wants his business open but he is also battling cancer. He says that by lifting the statewide mask mandate, Gov. Greg Abbott has put him, and many others like him, in danger.

“I think his decision to drop the mask mandate is selfish, cowardly. There's no reason to do it. Dropping the mask mandate will not help the economy, it will not help us open. And a lot of us feel he's putting a lot of us in danger,” he told CNN.

Nguyen say he will only allow customers who wear masks to dine at his establishment. Since masks are a really divisive topic, he doesn’t expect everyone to adhere to it and that means his business will not bounce back 100%.

“This year has been tough on me. [I’m] not only dealing with the stress of my sickness, it's also dealing with the stress that comes with Covid, you know, the anxiety of that. And just trying to have to adapt to trying to keep my business alive. My business and health kind of go side by side because that's going to provide me my medical expenses and all of that,” he said Wednesday.

“And my biggest thing is if we have another surge and we get a setback, my business may not survive this,” he added.

10:17 a.m. ET, March 10, 2021

CDC director explains when they could amend travel guidance for fully vaccinated people

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Before the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will “liberalize” its guidance for fully vaccinated people, it’s watching for coronavirus case increases and waiting for evidence about whether protection is fading among people who were vaccinated early on, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told ABC's Good Morning America.

When asked why vaccinated people shouldn’t travel, as CDC guidelines currently suggest, Walensky said there has been a surge in virus cases every time there’s a surge in travel.

Walensky said that the CDC was waiting for data and evidence about whether people who were vaccinated early on, in December and January, should be concerned about their protection fading.

“This is some of the data and evidence we are watching really carefully,” she said. “We are watching for breakthrough infections, we’re monitoring this really carefully. And that’s some of the science that we’re waiting to emerge before we liberalize our guidance, it’s the reason we’re taking these baby steps.” 

“We are not suggesting that people who are vaccinated can go out and take off their masks and do things in public settings, gather in big gatherings,” Walensky added. “Really, we’re taking baby steps to make sure that we can still protect the 90% of people who aren’t yet vaccinated.”

10:13 a.m. ET, March 10, 2021

Get up to speed: Here's what you need to know about the pandemic in the US today

It's just after 10 a.m. ET in the US where vaccination efforts continue across the country and the House is expected to vote on a Covid-19 relief plan that includes direct payments to Americans.

Here's what you need to know about the pandemic to get up to speed this morning:

  • Right now: The House is slated to hold a final vote today on President Biden's $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief plan. If it passes, it will be sent to the White House to be signed into law. You can follow live updates here.
  • Schools: The Los Angeles Unified School District has reached a tentative agreement with United Teachers Los Angeles to reopen schools for in-person learning by April. LAUSD is the second largest school district in the nation with more than 600,000 students in more than 1,000 schools.  
  • Restrictions: Starting today, Texans will no longer be under a statewide mandate to wear masks in public. But, some cities and businesses say they will still require masks – including Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and El Paso. Federal health leaders have also pushed back against lifting restrictions.
  • CDC guidance: New guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fully vaccinated people can safely visit with other vaccinated people and small groups of unvaccinated people. The CDC said it will issue travel and going out guidance for vaccinated individuals when science is more clear.
  • Variants: The coronavirus variant B.1.1.7, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, could be more deadly. New research published in a peer-reviewed journal said it is associated with an estimated 64% higher risk of dying from the virus. Researchers have detected it in at least 46 states and Washington, DC.
  • Looking ahead: The CDC now projects there will be 547,000 to 571,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by April 3, according to an ensemble forecast.
9:45 a.m. ET, March 10, 2021

Biden will announce plans to purchase 100 million more Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses, sources tell CNN

From CNN's Jeremy Diamond, Kaitlan Collins and Kate Sullivan

Used vials of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, the newest vaccine approved by the U.S. FDA for emergency use, sit in a box at an event put on by the Thornton Fire Department on March 6, 2021 in Thornton, Colorado.
Used vials of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, the newest vaccine approved by the U.S. FDA for emergency use, sit in a box at an event put on by the Thornton Fire Department on March 6, 2021 in Thornton, Colorado. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

President Biden will announce Wednesday that he is directing the US Department of Health and Human Services to purchase an additional 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, a White House official confirms to CNN.

The administration and the pharmaceutical giant still need to negotiate when these 100 million doses will be available, another person familiar with the matter told CNN.

This source predicts it will likely happen later this year as Johnson & Johnson works to ramp up production.

The New York Times first reported the expected announcement.

The White House told governors Tuesday to expect fewer than 400,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week, far below what they initially expected would be available.

Biden will make the announcement during a meeting this afternoon with Johnson & Johnson and Merck, which is helping to manufacture the Johnson & Johnson's vaccine under a deal brokered by the White House.

Biden announced last week that the US would have enough Covid-19 vaccine doses for every adult American by the end of May, which was a two-month acceleration of the previous timeline his administration had laid out.

The new goal was made possible by a rare partnership between competitors Merck and Johnson & Johnson. The White House says it is utilizing the Defense Production Act to help equip two Merck facilities to manufacture the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Read more here.

9:41 a.m. ET, March 10, 2021

CDC’s ensemble forecast now projects up to 571,000 US Covid-19 deaths by April 3

From CNN’s Ben Tinker

Candles are placed before a candlelight vigil and moment of silence outside the U.S. Capitol, on February 23, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congressional leaders held a candlelight ceremony to mark the more than 500,000 U.S. deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Candles are placed before a candlelight vigil and moment of silence outside the U.S. Capitol, on February 23, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congressional leaders held a candlelight ceremony to mark the more than 500,000 U.S. deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Al Drago/Getty Images

An ensemble forecast published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now projects there will be 547,000 to 571,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by April 3.

Unlike some individual models, the CDC’s ensemble forecast only offers projections a few weeks into the future. The previous ensemble forecast, published March 3, projected up to 564,000 coronavirus deaths by March 27.

At least 527,705 people have already died from Covid-19 in the US, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

 

9:26 a.m. ET, March 10, 2021

Utah will lift its mask mandate on April 10

From CNN's Konstantin Toropin

Utah will lift its mask mandate on April 10 after negotiations between the state's governor and legislature stopped an effort to end the measure immediately, a spokesperson for the governor's office confirmed in a statement.

"Once it became clear that the Legislature planned to end the mask mandate immediately, and with a veto proof majority, our administration worked with them to push the date back to get as many people vaccinated as possible," Jennifer Napier-Pearce, spokesperson for Gov. Spencer Cox, told CNN in an email.

Last week, the governor's office announced plans to open vaccinations to any adult who wants one by April.

"We ... will likely have 1.5 million first doses in the state by April 10,” Napier-Pearce noted.

Napier-Pearce also pointed out that the mandate will continue after April 10 in schools and for large gatherings.

"Also, businesses can still require masks," she added.

9:47 a.m. ET, March 10, 2021

If schools aren’t open, other places shouldn’t be, CDC director says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Seat belts inside an electric school bus parked at a mass vaccination site in a parking lot at Hollywood Park adjacent to SoFi stadium during the Covid-19 pandemic on March 1, 2021 in Inglewood, California. 
Seat belts inside an electric school bus parked at a mass vaccination site in a parking lot at Hollywood Park adjacent to SoFi stadium during the Covid-19 pandemic on March 1, 2021 in Inglewood, California.  Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Good Morning America Wednesday that the agency isn’t ready to create standards for states to ease restrictions – but if schools are still closed, other places shouldn’t be opening.

“We’re not quite ready to create those standards because we still have 90% of people unprotected,” Walensky said when asked what the standard should be for easing restrictions state by state. 

“What I will say, and we have said at the CDC, is schools should be the first place to open,” she said. “So, if your schools are not open, I don’t believe that we should be opening other places because we really do need to get our children back to school.” 

The CDC released operational guidance several weeks ago to safely get children and teachers back to school.