March 12 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 4:52 p.m. ET, March 15, 2021
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1:02 p.m. ET, March 12, 2021

White House says there will be 100 million Johnson & Johnson doses by the end of May

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Adams 12 Five Star Schools District RN Tiffany Karschamroon grabs a vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine as she prepares to draw doses on March 6 in Thornton, Colorado.
Adams 12 Five Star Schools District RN Tiffany Karschamroon grabs a vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine as she prepares to draw doses on March 6 in Thornton, Colorado. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

The White House provided some clarity on the vaccine supply needed to meet the goal of having enough vaccines for all 300 million American adults by the end of May. 

There will be 200 million doses each of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, per the White House, but they expect an increase in Johnson & Johnson vaccine availability due to its partnership with Merck.

That additional amount, White House Covid coordinator Jeff Zients said, “Is the figure that Johnson & Johnson has talked about in terms of their cumulative doses by the end of this month.”

“The work that we did, working with Johnson & Johnson and Merck to accelerate their manufacturing process, particularly the fill-finish piece, which is relevant in this timeframe, has it so that Johnson & Johnson is now, delivering at or near its 100 million by the end of May," Zients explained.

He continued, “So if you take the 200 million doses by the end of May of Moderna, plus the 200 million doses of Pfizer, plus the at or near 100 million completions of the Johnson & Johnson first contract, that is more than enough vaccine supplies to vaccinate all adult Americans by the end of May,” adding that the next step is to ramp up vaccinators and vaccination sites to accelerate the process.

The US adult population is approximately 255 million people, according to Census data. The US will have enough vaccine supply to fully vaccinated 300 million people by the end of May, according to the Biden administration and projections provided by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson.

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky declined to provide a number for how many Americans the administration would like to see vaccinated when Americans begin to gather again around the Fourth of July, as President Biden outlined in his address Friday.

Walensky instead suggested it will be dependent on the conditions of the pandemic at the time.

“Maybe I'll just address the second, the first question and that is, we're not looking at a single metric of a fraction of people vaccinated in a vacuum. We're looking at it in the context of what's going on with the pandemic as well, so I don't think we can put a single metric on that, as well as what's happening in what science has emerged with regard to vaccinated people, so it's hard to put a metric on a single number,” Walensky said.

4:52 p.m. ET, March 15, 2021

Monoclonal antibody treatments show "really dramatic" results to fight Covid-19, Fauci says

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing on March 12.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing on March 12. White House

While monoclonal antibodies are a “very fluid area of research,” many of these Covid-19 treatments show “really dramatic” results that help fight the disease, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday at the White House Covid-19 Response Team briefing.

Fauci referenced a number of recent studies that showed how much help these treatments offer Covid-19 patients early in the course of their disease. They are some of the only treatments authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat non-hospitalized Covid-19 patients, and they are still underutilized.

“The reason why I point this out is that, recently, there has been a considerable amount of information regarding some of the monoclonal antibodies that are used in the prevention and treatment of Covid-19,” Fauci said.

Fauci pointed to recent studies that showed bamlanivimab and etesevimab, in combination, showed a 70% reduction in hospitalization and death in Covid-19 patients, according to a non-published study presented in at a conference this week.

Another study, conducted by Vir Biotechnology and GlaxoSmithKline, showed patients who got that monoclonal therapy treatment had an 85% reduction in hospitalization or death.

Eli Lilly’s monoclonal therapy, which has been authorized by the FDA, showed an 80% reduction in moderate or severe disease at eight weeks in nursing home patients.

Regeneron’s antibody cocktail was 100% protective against symptomatic infection in the household setting, compared to placebo, and patients had a much lower viral load.

Fauci added that the treatments work for now. There is some concern that the variants may make the treatments less effective, but the companies continue to work on several updated cocktail approaches that scientists believe will work against the variants.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that the Vir Biotechnology monoclonal treatment had an 83% reduction in hospitalization or death. It was an 85% reduction, according to the company. 

12:17 p.m. ET, March 12, 2021

The CDC released new Covid-19 guidance for childcare programs. These are its recommendations. 

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky speaks during a White House briefing on March 12.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky speaks during a White House briefing on March 12. White House

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday updated its guidance for childcare programs during the pandemic, emphasizing the importance of mask-wearing for everyone 2 years of age and older, as well as air ventilation and other strategies.

"Early last year, CDC released initial guidance for childcare programs during Covid-19. As we learn more about the virus, CDC experts updated that guidance several times throughout 2020," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing on Friday.

"Today, CDC is again releasing updated guidance based on the most recent science," Walensky said. "That science includes additional evidence showing that, when used consistently and correctly, prevention strategies such as mask-wearing, staying home when sick, and good hand hygiene can allow childcare programs to operate safely and reduce the spread of Covid-19."

The guidance, updated on the CDC's website on Friday, notes that "even after childcare providers and staff are vaccinated, there will be a need to continue prevention measures for the foreseeable future, including wearing masks, physical distancing and other important prevention strategies outlined in this guidance document."

Here are key things recommended in the guidance:  

  • The guidance recommends that everyone in a childcare setting 2 years of age and older should wear a mask, except when eating or sleeping. Masks should not be a substitute for physical distancing, and CDC does not recommend face shields or goggles as a substitute for masks.
  • The guidance "also highlights strategies such as cohorting, where groups of children are kept together with the same peers and staff to reduce the risk of spread throughout the program," Walensky said.
  • The guidance also recommends increasing air ventilation by opening doors and windows when safe to do so, and it provides recommendations on how to adapt settings for children with disabilities and special needs, and ways to make communal spaces, eating areas and play areas safer during the pandemic.
  • "The guidance includes strategies that childcare programs can use to maintain healthy environments and operations, to lower the risk of Covid-19 clusters in their programs, to prepare for when someone is sick with Covid-19, and to support coping and resilience for their staff and children and parents they serve," Walensky said.

She continued: "This updated guidance is intended for all types of childcare providers including childcare centers, family childcare homes, Head Start programs and pre-kindergarten programs – and is meant to supplement, not to replace, other laws, rules or regulations that childcare programs must follow," Walensky said. "Recognizing that guidance can sometimes be complex, we are also releasing a suite of complimentary resources, infographics and toolkits to help programs with implementation."

The updated guidance and those resources are all now available online.

11:51 a.m. ET, March 12, 2021

White House announces new FEMA-supported vaccine site in Detroit

From CNN's Betsy Klein

White House
White House

The Biden administration has announced a new FEMA-supported vaccination site in Detroit, Michigan. 

“I’m pleased to announce the addition of a new FEMA- supported site in Detroit. The site, located at Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions, has the ability to administer 6,000 shots per day,” White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said Friday, part of the administration’s efforts to quickly ramp up vaccinations and also promote equity in vaccine distribution to at-risk populations.

The additional site brings the total of FEMA-supported sites to 19. 

11:46 a.m. ET, March 12, 2021

WHO lists Johnson & Johnson single-shot Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use worldwide

From CNN's Virigina Langmaid

A dose is prepared from a vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on March 6 in Thornton, Colorado.
A dose is prepared from a vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on March 6 in Thornton, Colorado. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

The World Health Organization announced Friday it has listed the Covid-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson for emergency use worldwide and for use in its COVAX program.

COVAX, the WHO program coordinating global access to Covid-19 vaccines, has already booked 500 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, in preparation for further WHO guidelines on rollout.

“The COVAX facility has booked 500 million doses of the J&J vaccine,” WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday. “We look forward to receiving them as soon as possible. Health care workers and older people all around the world need this vaccine, and COVAX is ready to deliver it.”

This is the first single-dose vaccine to receive WHO emergency use listing and the fourth vaccine to receive this designation overall.

11:26 a.m. ET, March 12, 2021

Go There: CNN is in Brazil, where a deadly Covid-19 wave is pushing hospitals toward collapse

Brazil is in crisis as a deadly wave of coronavirus takes hold, pushing hospitals and intensive care units toward collapse.

More than 270,000 people have died in the country due to Covid-19, making Brazil's the second-highest national death toll after the United States.

CNN international correspondent Matt Rivers took viewers' questions from Sao Paulo.


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.