April 27 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Kara Fox and Niamh Kennedy, CNN

Updated 1:44 AM ET, Wed April 28, 2021
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7:57 p.m. ET, April 27, 2021

The US isn't ready to stop mask use indoors just yet, CDC director says

From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas

The US isn’t ready to stop mask use indoors just yet, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday.

Walensky told NBC’s Lester Holt that to change its guidance recommending masks be worn indoors, the CDC is looking for an increase in the number of vaccinated people and a decrease in the number of Covid-19 cases.

“While we're really encouraged by the ongoing trends right now, I do want to remind Americans that we had a seven-day average of about 54,000 cases this past week,” Walensky said. “Those numbers are coming down, but that's still higher than our summer surge.”

Earlier Tuesday, the CDC announced that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks during certain outdoor activities.

When asked why the CDC is still recommending unvaccinated people wear masks outdoors, Walensky said, “We still believe that there is transmission. People are gathering near one another. They're coming less than six feet apart, and we know that this virus can trick us, so we want to be very careful for people who are unvaccinated.”

7:53 p.m. ET, April 27, 2021

CDC says its guidance on Covid-19 vaccination for pregnant people has not changed

From CNN's Jen Christensen and Jacqueline Howard

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not updated its Covid-19 vaccine guidelines for pregnant people, according to an email the agency sent to CNN.

Last week, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House briefing that the “CDC recommends that pregnant people receive the Covid-19.” The comment followed a new CDC study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found no safety concerns among a large group of pregnant people who received the vaccine in their third trimester with no safety concerns for their babies. 

Despite Walensky’s comment, the CDC vaccine guidance for pregnant people does not directly recommend the vaccine. The guidance has not been updated – as many media reports suggested – and it continues to say that pregnant women may receive a Covid-19 vaccine when one is available, and getting vaccinated is a personal choice. 

After reaching out to the CDC several times for further clarification, the CDC said in an email on Tuesday, “pregnant people are eligible and can receive a Covid-19 vaccine, which has always been and remains CDC’s recommendation.” The agency did not directly address Walensky’s comment.

“If facing decisions about whether to receive a Covid-19 vaccine while pregnant, people should consider risk of exposure to Covid-19, the increased risk of severe infection while pregnant, the known benefits of vaccination, and the limited but growing evidence about the safety of Covid-19 vaccine during pregnancy,” the email said. 

Pregnant people can speak with their health care provider, but that is not required to get the vaccine, the email said. Since pregnant people were not included in the vaccine trials, data is limited. The CDC study released Wednesday had data from more than 35,000 people just before or during pregnancy and it did not identify any safety concerns. 

“Additional follow-up is needed, including follow up of those vaccinated in the first and second trimester of pregnancy; however, these preliminary findings are reassuring," the email said. 

7:35 p.m. ET, April 27, 2021

Dr. Anthony Fauci looks forward to walking his dog without his mask

From CNN's Ryan Prior

Dr. Anthony Fauci says he will be walking his dog without a mask after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its recommendations for what precautions fully vaccinated people should take while in public.

Asked on NPR's "All Things Considered" whether he had any plans to take off his mask for walking his dog, Fauci said, “Actually I am going to.”

"If you're fully vaccinated and you're on a walk or a run or a bike, you can do that, and I'm going to be looking forward to doing that," he said.

The new CDC guidelines indicate everyone can take part in some outdoor activities safely without masks and they indicate fully vaccinated people can do even more mask-free. Fauci is fully vaccinated.

"As we get more and more people vaccinated and the level of infections gets lower and lower, you're going to see more flexibility in what people who are vaccinated can do and hopefully that will encourage more people to get vaccinated," Fauci said.
7:32 p.m. ET, April 27, 2021

US surgeon general explains what constitutes a "small outdoor gathering" during the pandemic

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.
US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. Source: CNN

 US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy offered some guidance Tuesday for what kind of “small gatherings” fully vaccinated people can join without masks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that fully vaccinated people can take their masks off at small outdoor gatherings, with vaccinated and unvaccinated people. The CDC did not define small.

“While there's not a hard and fast number the CDC put out, part of what constitutes ‘small’ has to do with how many people you can come together with, without crowding,” Murthy told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “What we don't want is people jammed up in enclosed spaces, because in that setting, even if you're outdoors, there may be a greater risk.”

Murthy said it’s important for people to be able to maintain a reasonable distance.

“Those kind of smaller group settings are the ones that are safer, and where you can be unmasked if you're gathering with people, whether they're vaccinated or not.”

6:51 p.m. ET, April 27, 2021

There's hope for someday ditching masks indoors, too, US surgeon general says

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

The updated guidance for fully vaccinated people released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a step towards normalcy, but not the last step, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said Tuesday.

The CDC said Tuesday that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks during certain outdoor activities.

“What we're going to see as more and more people get vaccinated, is that we're going to be able to open up, including indoors, down the line,” Murthy told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. 

“But right now, given the fact that there's still many people who are unvaccinated in the country, given that we still have many people who are being infected each day – meaning that there's still a lot of virus in the environment – we have to still observe the practice of masking indoors, even if we're vaccinated,” he added.

Murthy noted that indoor activities are lower risk for people who are vaccinated than for those who are not, but both groups should still wear masks. 

“Again, more people get vaccinated, we get cases down, and that will start to change as well,” he said.
6:35 p.m. ET, April 27, 2021

Some restrictions are being lifted in the US as cases surge in India. Here are the top headlines.

Relatives cremate their loved ones who died of Covid-19 in New Delhi on April 26.
Relatives cremate their loved ones who died of Covid-19 in New Delhi on April 26. Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Today, new guidance for fully vaccinated people in the US was released as some states start relaxing Covid-19 restrictions. Meanwhile, new infections and virus deaths surge in India and other parts of the world.

Here are today's top headlines to get you caught up:

  • India: The country is experiencing the world's worst outbreak of Covid-19 infections, reporting at least 323,144 new cases today. Hospitals have run out of basic medical supplies, with many patients dying due to oxygen shortages. The government has been scrambling to respond to the crisis, with countries around the world offering aid.
  • New guidance: Fully vaccinated people can unmask outdoors if they are walking, running, hiking or biking alone or with members of their household, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Those who are fully vaccinated can also go mask free while dining at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households or small outdoor gatherings. Unvaccinated people should still wear a mask.
  • Travel: The State Department announced students, journalists, certain academics and those “who provide critical infrastructure support” from countries affected by Covid-19 travel restrictions may now come to the United States under a National Interest Exception.
  • Lifting restrictions: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced today that any fully vaccinated Ohioan will no longer have to quarantine if they are exposed to someone with Covid-19.
  • Vaccines: The White House said nearly 30 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines will be allocated this week. That is an increase from the previous two weeks. The Biden administration also announced measures to make it easier for college students to get their second dose in their home state.
  • Johnson & Johnson vaccine: The CDC says two additional people experienced a rare blood clotting condition after receiving the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, bringing to 17 the number of known cases of what the agency is calling thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). As of Friday, the CDC had reports of 15 confirmed cases among 8 million vaccinations. 

5:59 p.m. ET, April 27, 2021

FDA warns two companies for false Covid-19 claims – one for pets, one for people

From CNN's Ryan Prior

The US Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it has warned two companies for making false claims for various products sold to treat Covid-19 and other conditions – one targeting pets, and one targeting people.

The FDA said the website www.pharmacygeoff.md was selling unapproved and misbranded drugs for multiple diseases. The agency's letter says the site was marketing hydroxychloroquine as a drug that had been used to treat Covid-19 patients. However, that drug is not approved by the FDA for prevention, diagnosis, treatment, or mitigation of the disease.

Other drugs listed on the site included versions of dexamethasone and a combination of two antiviral drugs approved to treat HIV but not Covid-19. The letter gave the company 48 hours to notify the FDA of steps it was taking to "remedy and prevent the recurrence of any violations."

The FDA said it warned Group Cyrenne Inc., doing business under the name HomeoAnimal, for selling homeopathic pet remedies for conditions including anemia, cancer, heart murmurs and thyroid disorders. The FDA determined classified the site's offerings as "unapproved new animal drugs" and selling them across state lines violated the law.

HomeoAnimal's Virus Defense Kit, which bundles several of its products, was marketed with website tags for "coronavirus," "covid," and "covid-19," the FDA said. The letter gives the company 15 working days to notify the FDA of specific steps it is taking to address the violations. 

5:39 p.m. ET, April 27, 2021

The US will have a global vaccination plan in place in "several days," secretary of state says

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Source: CNN

Secretary of State Antony Blinken today said the US is working quickly to develop a plan for global distribution of its vaccines, adding that a plan should be in place within days.

"For the vaccines that we have directly on hand, or will shortly, we are going to decide whether to do some or all that have through COVAX or how much will be done directly country to country, all of that is in the works and we'll have a plan in place in several days," said Blinken, speaking with CNN's Jake Tapper. 

His remarks came a day after the Biden administration announced the US planned to ship millions of AstraZeneca vaccine doses overseas to help countries that are still struggling to vaccinate their populations. 

"Breaking: U.S. to release 60 million AstraZeneca doses to other countries as they become available," tweeted White House Covid-19 adviser Andy Slavitt on Monday. 

Blinken said part of the delay of global distribution, for which the administration has received some criticism, is due to the US Food and Drug Administration doing due diligence to ensure the doses are safe for global distribution.

"We want to make sure that the vaccines we'll have in our possession ... are safe, so the FDA is reviewing that, so we're a couple weeks away from that, but we're putting in place a plan to do that," he said.

"The thing I mostly worry about, Jake, is making sure as many people around the world as possible can get vaccinated as quickly as possible because the hard truth is none of us are safe until a vast majority are vaccinated," Blinken added.

5:20 p.m. ET, April 27, 2021

Two more rare blood clot events reported in the US after people got the J&J Covid-19 vaccine, CDC says

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Tuesday that two additional people experienced a rare blood clotting condition after receiving the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, bringing to 17 the number of known cases of what the agency is calling thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). 

A CDC spokesperson told CNN by email the agency was informed of the additional cases over the weekend. 

One case was in a male patient. The other was in a female. All prior known cases have been among women. Because of privacy issues, the CDC does not provide any additional information about the patients other than to say that both were under the age of 60. The CDC said it is continuing to investigate these particular cases.

The CDC and the US Food and Drug Administration had said they’d continue monitoring for these rare blood clots after lifting their recommended pause on Friday.

Some more context: As of Friday, the CDC had reports of 15 confirmed cases among 8 million vaccinations.