April 5 coronavirus news

By Ivana Kottasová, Ben Westcott, Brett McKeehan, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 3:52 p.m. ET, April 6, 2021
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6:59 p.m. ET, April 5, 2021

UK coronavirus variant now detected in all 50 US states, CDC says

From CNN’s Michael Nedelman

More than 15,000 cases of a coronavirus variant first spotted in the UK have been reported in all 50 US states for the first time by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to data updated Monday.

Florida leads in these numbers, with 3,191 known cases of the variant, which is known to be both more contagious and more deadly than earlier strains. Michigan, whose current surge has been partly connected to the variant, has the second highest number of known cases —1,649.

CDC’s update included two other variants of concern: There are 374 total cases of a variant initially seen in South Africa, called B.1.351, in 32 states and Washington, DC. In addition, there are 289 total cases of the P.1 variant first linked to Brazil among 25 states.

CDC says this does not represent the total number of such cases circulating in the US, but rather just those that have been found by analyzing positive samples. The agency cautions that its numbers may not immediately match those of state and local health departments.

3:52 p.m. ET, April 6, 2021

Public health officials shouldn't have been surprised by Covid-19, CDC director says

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid

Public health infrastructure in the United States is so poor that the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic should not have been a surprise, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Monday.

“[Trust for America’s Health] has done some analyses that have demonstrated that we’ve lost 56,000 public health jobs in the last 10 years, and all of that happened when we had Zika and Ebola and H1N1 and now Covid,” Walensky said on the CDC Foundation’s Contagious Conversations podcast. “None of us should have been that surprised that our public health system was not prepared for this pandemic.”

Walensky said improving public health infrastructure will be a goal moving forward in order to prevent future pandemics, and that public health funding cannot be “staccato,” jumping from outbreak to outbreak.

“We can’t be back here again. I see my job after we get out of this pandemic is to constantly remind people that we had a pandemic because of the lack of infrastructure.” she said. “Since we haven’t had a pandemic for 100 years, doesn’t mean another one couldn’t happen next year if we don’t make the proper investments.”

Correction: An earlier version of this post included the wrong name for the CDC Foundation's podcast. The podcast is Contagious Conversations.

6:55 p.m. ET, April 5, 2021

Maryland opens Covid-19 mass vaccination sites to anyone 16 and older

From CNN’s Ganesh Setty

State of Maryland
State of Maryland

Marylanders ages 16 and above will be eligible to receive Covid-19 vaccinations at the state’s mass vaccination sites starting Tuesday morning, Gov. Larry Hogan announced today. 

By April 12, all medical providers statewide must offer the vaccines to those 16 and above, he said, adding that individuals qualifying under phases 1 and 2 will continue to be prioritized. 

Three more mass vaccination sites are set to open this week, along with two more both next week and the week after that, the governor said at a news conference.  

“We are literally in a race between the vaccines and these new highly transmissible variants, which are driving an increase in new infections and hospitalizations, particularly among younger people in states across the country,” Hogan said. 

The widened eligibility comes as at least 1,165 residents remain hospitalized, according to the state’s Covid-19 dashboard. The last time that many beds were filled was mid-February, according to the data. 

Maryland’s rolling seven-day average percent positivity rate, meanwhile, stands at 5.79% as of Sunday, the dashboard shows. 

While more than 1.1 million Marylanders are fully vaccinated, the governor said the current pace of federal vaccine shipments will likely get Maryland near the finish line over the next two months.  

“I don’t want to make promises we can’t deliver based on something that’s not in our control, but if they continue to provide vaccines the way they have led us to believe, we should be able to finish everybody who wants one, you know, during April and May,” he said. 

Note: These numbers were released by the state's public health agency, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services.

4:45 p.m. ET, April 5, 2021

New Jersey will expand Covid-19 vaccine eligibility to people 16 and older starting April 19

From CNN’s Anna Sturla

All New Jersey residents over the age of 16 will be eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine beginning April 19, ahead of the state's earlier May 1 target, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday afternoon.

Beginning today, all state residents 55 and older, those with developmental disabilities 16 and older and multiple categories of workers could begin receiving Covid-19 vaccinations. Almost 1.8 million residents have been fully vaccinated so far, the governor announced.

Murphy noted the new eligibilities now included him and his wife, and they would be "pursuing."

He also announced that following new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, fully-vaccinated individuals traveling domestically would no longer be required to quarantine upon arriving in the state, or get tested before or after their trip.

4:10 p.m. ET, April 5, 2021

Pennsylvania moved to its next stage of vaccine eligibility. Here's who qualifies starting today.

From CNN's Rob Frehse

Pennsylvanians who work in congregate care, education, manufacturing, clergy, public transit, the US Postal Service and the clergy are now eligible to be vaccinated starting today, according to a news release from Gov. Tom Wolf’s office.

“Our revised vaccination eligibility plan means more Pennsylvanians now have access to the lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine as vaccine supply increases and providers and counties establish easier access to appointments,” Wolf said in the release.

The move was part of the state’s Phase 1B plan and is outlined further here.

More than 112,500 teachers and school staff for pre-K through 12 were already vaccinated in a targeted program that ended April 2, according to the release.

All Pennsylvania residents will be eligible for the vaccine on April 19.

3:50 p.m. ET, April 5, 2021

Biden taps Gayle Smith to serve as global Covid coordinator

From CNN's Michael Conte, Jennifer Hansler, Kylie Atwood, Nicole Gaouette and Sydney Walton

Gayle Smith speaks after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced her appointment as the new State Department Coordinator for Global COVID Response and Health Security on Monday, April 5, 2021.
Gayle Smith speaks after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced her appointment as the new State Department Coordinator for Global COVID Response and Health Security on Monday, April 5, 2021. Alexander Drago/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

The Biden administration has tapped Gayle Smith, who helped lead the Obama administration’s Ebola response, to serve as the coordinator for Global Covid Response and Health Security, Secretary of State Tony Blinken announced in remarks Monday that failed to offer concrete details about US plans to share vaccines with international partners.

The top US diplomat said that the United States would not “trade shots in arms for political favors,” but did not offer specific details on the administration’s plans to share vaccines more broadly beyond its immediate neighbors.

“This is about saving lives,” Blinken said during his remarks. “We’ll treat our partner countries with respect.”

Blinken also outlined other “core values” he said would guide the State Department’s plans, in what appeared to be a swipe at Russia and China.

“We won’t overpromise and underdeliver. We’ll maintain high standards for the vaccines that we help to bring to others, only distributing those proven to be safe and effective. We’ll insist on an approach built on equity,” he said.

Blinken said that as the Biden administration gets "more confident" about vaccine supply domestically, they are looking at options for sharing vaccines with other countries. He said that would happen "soon" but did not give details as to when that would begin.

Blinken spoke highly of the new global Covid envoy, saying, “she’s tested, she’s highly respected, she will hit the ground running.” 

“And I can say from having worked with Gayle and admired her for years that no one will work harder, faster or more effectively to get us to the finish line,” he said.

Smith, who served in the Obama and Clinton administrations and leads the ONE Campaign, a global anti-disease and anti-poverty organization, said she faces two challenges.

“First, to shorten the lifespan of a borderless pandemic that is destroying lives and livelihoods all over the world. And the second is to ensure that we can prevent, detect, and respond to those future global health threats we know are coming. American leadership is desperately needed, and I’m extremely confident we can rise to the occasion,” she said. 

The ONE Campaign said Smith is “on temporary assignment to the State Department."

In his remarks, Blinken also noted that the United States would “keep pushing for a complete and transparent investigation into the origins of this epidemic, to learn what happened, so it doesn't happen again.” 

Last week, the US and 13 other countries released a joint statement raising questions about a World Health Organization report on the deadly pandemic’s origins and calling for independent and fully transparent evaluations, and the European Union called for better access for researchers and further investigation.

3:43 p.m. ET, April 5, 2021

More than 40% of US adults and 75% of seniors have received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose

From CNN’s Deidre McPhillips

More than 167 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States, according to data published Monday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC reported that 167,187,795 total doses have been administered – about 80% of the 207,891,395 doses delivered.

That’s about 2.1 million more doses reported administered since yesterday, for a seven-day average of about 3.1 million doses per day. This is the third day in a row that the seven-day average has topped 3 million doses per day.

Overall, about 32% of the US population – more than 107.5 million people – have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and nearly 19% of the population – more than 62 million people – are fully vaccinated, CDC data shows.

More than 40% of adults and more than 75% of seniors in the US have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and about 23% of adults and 55% of seniors are fully vaccinated.

Note: Data published by the CDC may be delayed, and doses may not have been given on the day reported.

3:44 p.m. ET, April 5, 2021

White House says US will have enough vaccine for all Americans by end of next month

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

Win McNamee/Getty Images
Win McNamee/Getty Images

The White House says the US will still have enough vaccines for all Americans by the end of next month, despite problems with a single batch of “drug product” resulting in the loss of 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.

“We are still on track to have the number of doses we need to vaccinate all adult Americans by the end of May,” Psaki said Monday. “This was not even a facility that was approved by the FDA.” 

She continued, saying the US was “not betting on these doses,” and that Johnson & Johnson “has assured us that we will be getting the 24 million doses that they have promised in April.”  

Pressed by CNN's Kaitlan Collins on if the issues could add to vaccine hesitancy across the United States, Psaki responded, “we haven't seen that.” 

“This is why the FDA approval process is in place,” she said. “In many ways it was the process working, because the FDA had not approved the site. There were steps taken to address what some of the issues were, and we also have a range of contingency plans.” 

“When we all talk in here about, ‘why did we order so many doses, why are we at the point where we are sharing doses with every country around the world?’ Part of it is because we need to plan for things coming up. Things like this come up,” she said. 

“We have to plan for a range of contingencies,” Psaki added. “That's one of the many reasons that we're going to still be in a place where we have enough vaccines for adult Americans by the end of May.”  

Some background: As CNN previously reported, a source familiar with Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine manufacturing process told CNN Saturday the loss was not a major setback. 

Johnson & Johnson has said a single batch of “drug product” failed quality control inspection and had been discarded. The company’s vaccine currently being distributed in the US is made at a plant in the Netherlands, but Emergent BioSolutions, a contract manufacturer, was producing doses at a facility in Baltimore. The factory was awaiting authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration when the contamination problem was reported.

“Once the plant is back up and running, the way this particular vaccine is made in these large batches, making up for this batch should not be a major setback. It should be a setback of just a few weeks,” the source told CNN. 

Emergent was also making vaccine for AstraZeneca, whose vaccine is yet to be authorized in the US. Like Johnson & Johnson’s, AstraZeneca’s vaccine uses a virus to carry genetic material – a so-called viral vector.

Emergent and Johnson & Johnson have said quality control measures caught the problem. None of the vaccine being made at the plant had been shipped out to be put into vials or distributed and officials have stressed that no one had been put at risk because of the contamination.

CNN reported the company has been assisting in the production of Covid-19 vaccines for Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca for months, according to a source familiar with the situation.

In addition to the batch of 15 million doses that had to be discarded, Emergent has successfully produced 115 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, which are in various stages of the supply chain, the source said.

The source added that it’s “not that unusual” for the pharmaceutical industry to have to discard batches of vaccine, and the fact that Emergent and J&J detected the contamination before any of the impacted doses shipped “showed the system worked.”

1:17 p.m. ET, April 5, 2021

Washington, DC, will loosen Covid-19 restrictions beginning May 1. Here's a look at some of the changes. 

From CNN’s Nicky Robertson

Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the District will loosen many coronavirus restrictions beginning May 1, given the number of cases continues to decline later in the spring.  

At a news conference Monday, Bowser told reporters that although cases may rise soon in coming weeks because of the spring break and Easter gatherings, she expects cases will decrease by May.

“We know that we can expect to see some increases in cases this month, but with vaccinations and continued safeguards we expect that later in the spring that those cases will come down,” the Mayor said, before reminding residents to “get vaccinated as soon as you have the opportunity.”

Restrictions are expected to loosen in a number of areas, including:

  • Allowing seated live entertainment indoors at 25% capacity
  • Regional business meetings and seated conventions will be allowed indoors or outdoors at 25% capacity
  • Recreation centers, libraries, museums and galleries and non-essential retail will be able to operate with 50% capacity indoors or outdoors
  • DC public pools, which did not open at all last year due to the pandemic, will be allowed to open at 50% capacity 

According to the DC Department of Health, 9.7% of DC residents are fully vaccinated.