March 10 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott and Kara Fox, CNN

Updated 2:18 AM ET, Thu March 11, 2021
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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.

9:12 a.m. ET, March 10, 2021

There are two promising ways of boosting Covid-19 vaccines against variants, Fauci says 

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CNN’s New Day Wednesday that there are two ways of going about booster shots for Covid-19 vaccines against variants: boosting against the regular virus or boosting against specific variants. 

“You’re going to see two ways of going at this,” Fauci told CNN’s John Berman when asked about where the US in making determinations about how to give people boosters against variants. “Boost against the regular virus which will have a spillover and protect you against the variant, or specifically boost against the variant. And I think both of those are going to be promising.” 

The vaccines in use now seem to be working against the variants, Fauci explained. 

For the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the UK, antibodies induced by the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine are “quite effective,” Fauci said. Looking at the B.1.351 variant first identified in South Africa in the lab, it appears the efficacy of vaccines is slightly diminished.

He said that people need to continue to be careful and not overly optimistic, “but I think what we’re seeing is that boosting with just the wild type virus vaccine – wild type means the standard one, not a variant – can actually protect you against a variant.” 

Tests are starting now to make vaccines directed specifically against variants, Fauci noted.

8:31 a.m. ET, March 10, 2021

Newly published data suggests coronavirus variant first identified in UK appears to be more deadly

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

A medical worker handles a test tube after administering a nasal swab to a patient at a coronavirus testing center, on February 18, in Dunkirk, France, where the UK variant has been detected.
A medical worker handles a test tube after administering a nasal swab to a patient at a coronavirus testing center, on February 18, in Dunkirk, France, where the UK variant has been detected. Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images

The coronavirus variant B.1.1.7, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, is associated with an estimated 64% higher risk of dying from Covid-19, suggests new research published in a peer-reviewed journal. 

A sample of people in the UK infected with the variant appeared to be between 32% and 104% — so around a probable 64% — more likely to die than those infected with the previously circulating variants, according to the study published in the medical journal the BMJ on Wednesday.

The variant was originally found to be more easily transmissible and the new data support claims from UK officials, based on preliminary data, that the variant may be more deadly, as well.

The researchers, from various institutions in the UK, analyzed data on more than 100,000 patients who tested positive for Covid-19 between October through January, and were followed up with until mid-February. The researchers took a close look at whose tests detected the variant compared with those from previously circulating variants.

The study showed that the new variant was associated with 227 deaths in a sample of 54,906 patients — compared with 141 deaths among the same number of patients infected with previous strains. 

"In the community, death from COVID-19 is still a rare event, but the B.1.1.7 variant raises the risk. Coupled with its ability to spread rapidly this makes B.1.1.7 a threat that should be taken seriously," Robert Challen, lead author of the study from the University of Exeter in the UK, said in a news release on Wednesday.

More research is needed to determine whether similar findings would emerge among more patients from other parts of the world.

"The variant of concern, in addition to being more transmissible, seems to be more lethal," the researchers wrote in their study. "We expect this to be associated with changes in its phenotypic properties because of multiple genetic mutations, and we see no reason why this finding would be specific to the UK."

8:03 a.m. ET, March 10, 2021

Fauci reflects on a year since the pandemic began in the US: "Just be prudent a bit longer"

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Dr. Anthony Fauci, America's top infectious diseases expert in the US, has been reflecting on the year since the coronavirus pandemic began, saying he never could have imagined reaching the number of cases and deaths the country has seen from the virus.

“If you had turned the clock back a year … even though I've been through multiple outbreaks of different diseases, the thought that you would have 525,000 people in America to have died and about, you know, 28 million infections in this country, would have really been unimaginable,” he told CNN's New Day program on Wednesday.

Fauci also indicated that things are headed in the right direction — but warned that “we’re not out of the woods yet.”

“Although everyone wants to get back to normal now (it's totally understandable, including myself and my family) -- but the fact is, when you look at this virus and what it's done, you've got to be very careful and pull back in a very measured way, and not just turn the switch on and off,” he said.

Fauci also said people should keep their guard up a little longer, through the upcoming spring break.

“We want people to have a good time on spring break, but don't put your guard down completely. Just be prudent a bit longer. We are going in the right direction, we are almost there.”

Watch the moment:

8:03 a.m. ET, March 10, 2021

Fauci: More guidance on what vaccinated people can do is coming "imminently"

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said the next round of guidance for vaccinated individuals will involve traveling and going out.

“I think that's what you're going to be seeing in the next weeks. You're going to see little by little, more and more guidelines getting people to be more and more flexible. The first installation of this is: What can vaccinated people do in the home setting? Obviously, the next one is going to be what you're asking. What about travel? What about going out? What about getting a haircut? What about doing things like that? That's all imminently going to be coming out,” Fauci said on CNN’s “New Day.” 

New guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released this week say people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 can safely visit with other vaccinated people and small groups of unvaccinated people in some circumstances, but there are still important safety precautions needed.

Fauci also said governors rolling back mask mandates is concerning. 

“When you start doing things like completely putting aside all public health measures, as if you're turning a light switch off, that's quite risky. We don't want to see another surge, and that's inviting one when you do that,” he said. 

Fauci added that he is constantly and consistently meeting with the Biden administration’s team. While personal threats to him “come and go,” he told CNN’s John Berman that the situation right now is “really going well.” 

“It's a completely different kind of atmosphere. It's always looking ahead, about how we can do better with the main focus on the public health aspects of it, without distractions about the other things that we knew from before,” he said.  

Watch more from the interview: