March 12 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 4:52 p.m. ET, March 15, 2021
17 Posts
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11:15 a.m. ET, March 12, 2021

White House will kick off tour Monday to promote Covid-19 relief package 

From CNN's Betsy Klein

President Biden and other top officials will promote the coronavirus relief package next week by hitting the road on what the White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the “Help is Here Tour.”

Here's a look at the schedule:

  • On Monday: Psaki said first lady Jill Biden will travel to Burlington, New Jersey, and Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff will travel to Las Vegas, Nevada.  
  • On Tuesday: President Biden will travel to Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and Harris and Emhoff will travel to Denver, Colorado. 
  • On Wednesday: Emhoff will travel to Albuquerque, New Mexico.  
  • On Friday: Biden will join Vice President Harris in Atlanta, Georgia. 

“During their trips, they will discuss the benefits of the ARP for working families,” Psaki said on Thursday, and “will engage with people at each of these stops about how the American people can benefit from the component of the package.” 

She said they will talk about the $1,400 stimulus checks, which will begin to be deployed “as early as this weekend,” as well as the child tax credit, the extension of unemployment insurance, rental and homeowner assistance, the expansion of the earned income tax credit, health insurance subsidies, “and of course the fact that the bill will lift 11 million people out of poverty and cut child poverty in half.”

An internal memo obtained by CNN's Phil Mattingly says the White House will deploy messaging to “every corner” of the country with the President, vice president, first lady, and second gentleman, as well as Cabinet members and top officials.

For ten days, administration officials will focus on one element of the bill per day, from the stimulus checks and emergency unemployment insurance extensions, to vaccine distribution and re-opening schools.

11:04 a.m. ET, March 12, 2021

US stimulus payment checks will start going out this weekend. Here are key things to know.

From CNN's Katie Lobosco

Some Americans will start seeing the next round of stimulus payments hit their bank accounts as early as this weekend, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.

The payments are worth up to $1,400 per person and were included in the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill signed by President Biden yesterday.

Congress on Wednesday passed the relief package, which has been Biden's first and most pressing legislative priority since taking office in January. Biden is slated to celebrate the plan's passage with a signing ceremony and remarks today at 2:30 p.m. ET in the White House's Rose Garden.

Here are key things to know about the checks:

  • The payments won't all go out at once. Those whose bank information is on file with the Internal Revenue Service will likely get the money first, because it will be directly deposited into their accounts. Others may receive paper checks or prepaid debit cards in the mail.
  • The money is expected to reach about 90% of families, according to an estimate from the Penn Wharton Budget Model.
  • Families will receive an additional $1,400 per dependent, so a couple with two children could receive up to $5,600. Unlike prior rounds, families will now receive the additional money for adult dependents over the age of 17.
  • The full amount goes to individuals earning less than $75,000 of adjusted gross income, heads of households (like single parents) earning less than $112,500 and married couples earning less than $150,000. But then the payments gradually phase out as income goes up.

Use our calculator below to see if you are eligible to receive a check:

9:23 a.m. ET, March 12, 2021

City of Rio de Janeiro halts its vaccination campaign due to lack of vaccines

From CNN's Rodrigo Pedroso in Sao Paulo

A health worker prepares a dose of the Coronavac vaccine at a drive through vaccination center at the Sambodrome Rio Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on February 6.
A health worker prepares a dose of the Coronavac vaccine at a drive through vaccination center at the Sambodrome Rio Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on February 6. Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images

The city of Rio de Janeiro is temporarily suspending new initial Covid-19 vaccinations due to lack of doses, Mayor Eduardo Paes announced Thursday. The campaign will restart once more vaccines become available through Brazil's health ministry, he said. 

However, the mayor said the application of a second dose for those residents who already got a first dose will not be affected. Since the beginning of the campaign in the city, a total of 451,829 people have been vaccinated, including health workers, indigenous people and residents over the age of 76. 

Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello on Thursday lowered the estimate for Covid-19 vaccine doses available to state and municipalities for March and said at the moment the ministry is expected to distribute between 22 and 25 million doses of vaccines throughout the month. 

The number has been reduced several times in the past few weeks. In mid-February, when the health ministry released the vaccination schedule for the first time, it said it expected to have 46 million doses of the vaccine to distribute in March. The government says it is negotiating new vaccine deals.

9:13 a.m. ET, March 12, 2021

Biden touts Covid-19 relief bill's global impact during virtual summit

From CNN's Betsy Klein

President Joe Biden speaks during a virtual meeting from the State Dining Room of the White House on March 12 in Washington, DC.
President Joe Biden speaks during a virtual meeting from the State Dining Room of the White House on March 12 in Washington, DC. Alex Brandon/AP

President Biden hosted his first virtual multilateral summit and the first leader-level meeting of the Quad, which includes the US, India, Australia, and Japan, using his welcome remarks to tout his newly signed $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill and the way it will benefit the world.

“Yesterday, I signed in the law the American Rescue Plan to get the American people through this pandemic and kickstart our economy and our economic recovery. It's a bill that will get meaningful help in the hands of people in our country who need it the most," Biden said.  

He touted the newly-revised Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, rate of expected US economic growth and cited OECD’s expectation that US economic growth “fueled by the ARP and increased vaccinations will be a key driver and global growth this year,” going on to say that US trade partners will “(benefit) around the world as a consequence.”

Biden highlighted the US-facilitated partnership between Johnson & Johnson and Merck, which, he noted, will “boost vaccine manufacturing” with a “global benefit.”

8:54 a.m. ET, March 12, 2021

European Union regulator adds allergic reactions to list of AstraZeneca's vaccine possible side effects

From CNN's Antonia Mortensen, Schams Elwazer and Arnaud Siad

Boxes containing doses of the Astrazeneca vaccine are pictured inside a refrigerator in Bari, Italy, on March 9.
Boxes containing doses of the Astrazeneca vaccine are pictured inside a refrigerator in Bari, Italy, on March 9. Donato Fasano/Getty Images

The EU’s drugs regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), said Friday it was adding severe allergic reactions to the list of possible side effects from the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

The agency’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) “has recommended an update to the product information to include anaphylaxis and hypersensitivity (allergic reactions) as side effects,” the EMA said in a statement.

“The update is based on a review of 41 reports of possible anaphylaxis seen among around 5 million vaccinations in the United Kingdom. After careful review of the data, PRAC considered that a link to the vaccine was likely in at least some of these cases,” it added.

Some more context: This news comes as multiple European nations have suspended the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine while the European Union's medicines regulator also investigates whether the shot could be linked to a number of reports of blood clots.

Denmark announced a two-week suspension on Thursday following a number of reports of clotting in the country, including one fatal case. Iceland and Norway followed suit, but did not say how long their suspensions would last.

8:47 a.m. ET, March 12, 2021

Fauci says he is "very much" concerned about a possible mental health pandemic

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens as President Joe Biden, not pictured, speaks at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, on February 11.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens as President Joe Biden, not pictured, speaks at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, on February 11. Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBS’ Norah O’Donnell Thursday that he is “very much” concerned about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on mental health, as well as all of the other long-term effects.

“Very much so,” Fauci said when asked by O’Donnell if he was concerned about a mental health pandemic. “That’s the reason why I want to get the virological aspect of this pandemic behind us as quickly as we possibly can, because the long-term ravages of this are so multifaceted.” 

“I hope we don’t see an increase in some preventable situations, which would not have happened if people had the normal access to medical care, which clearly was interrupted by the shutdown associated with Covid-19,” he said. 

8:21 a.m. ET, March 12, 2021

Bulgaria becomes latest country to suspend all use of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN's Schams Elwazer

A vial of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is pictured at the Pirogov Hospital in Sofia, Bulgaria, on February 7.
A vial of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is pictured at the Pirogov Hospital in Sofia, Bulgaria, on February 7. Nikolay Doychiinov/AFP/Getty Images

Bulgaria became the latest country to suspend use of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday pending investigations into safety.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov ordered a halt to all inoculations using the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine until the European Medicines Agency “rejects all doubts” about the vaccine's safety, according to a government statement. 

The European Medicines Agency on Thursday issued a statement saying the benefits of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine outweigh the risks and did not recommend suspending use. 

The EMA said it was aware that Denmark was suspending it due to reports of blood clots in people who had received it, but said: “There is currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions, which are not listed as side effects with this vaccine.”

8:13 a.m. ET, March 12, 2021

Yesterday was the third busiest day for US air travel during the pandemic

From CNN's Greg Wallace

The number of Americans traveling by airplane continues to spike, government data shows.  

The Transportation Security Administration said it screened 1.28 million people on Thursday, making it the third busiest day at American airports since the pandemic cratered air travel nearly a year ago.  

Thursday saw only 43,000 people fewer screenings than the pandemic-era record, set in early January as travelers returned from holiday plans and just 300 people short of taking the second-ranked spot set Dec. 27. It was busier than most of the travel days around the Christmas holiday and all of the days around Thanksgiving.  

The industry says passenger volumes are still depressed – 57% below pre-pandemic levels – but that it is prepared for a wave of travelers headed out for spring break or to visit family, many of whom are freshly vaccinated.  

“We want people to get on the airplanes. We do think it is safe or we wouldn’t be flying them,” Nick Calio of the industry group Airlines for America told CNN in a Thursday interview. “You can tell people are encouraged – lately there’s this mood and people think we’re coming through.”  

But the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautioned against travel even for vaccinated people in recently-released guidelines, and said it would wait to loosen those restrictions until more Americans receive the coronavirus shots.  

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on CNN Thursday night that she is worried about Covid-19 spikes linked to travel. 

“We are being very cautious right now with travel,” she said. 

8:14 a.m. ET, March 12, 2021

"No evidence" of blood clot risk from vaccine, AstraZeneca says

From Chris Liakos

A vial of the AstraZeneca vaccine is pictured in a pharmacy in Paris on March 12.
A vial of the AstraZeneca vaccine is pictured in a pharmacy in Paris on March 12. Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images

AstraZeneca has defended its Covid-19 vaccine after several countries suspended its use over blood clot concerns this week.

The pharmaceutical giant said Friday that its analysis not only showed “no evidence of an increased risk” of blood clots in Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine recipients, but a lower number than in the general population. 

“An analysis of our safety data of more than 10 million records has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis in any defined age group, gender, batch or in any particular country with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca,” it said in a statement.
“In fact, the observed number of these types of events are significantly lower in those vaccinated than would be expected among the general population."

Thailand on Friday followed Denmark, Iceland and Norway in suspending the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine while investigators probe potential side effects and adverse reactions.

AstraZeneca said it will fully support any ongoing investigations.