June 2 coronavirus news

By Mike Hayes, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, Meg Wagner and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 0003 GMT (0803 HKT) June 3, 2021
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7:44 p.m. ET, June 2, 2021

Fauci says it is premature to lift mask mandates in areas with high levels of Covid-19 spread

From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas

It is premature to lift mask mandates in areas with high levels of Covid-19 spread, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Wednesday.

“It's premature if you have a level of infection in the community that is really quite high,” Fauci said in an NBC Nightly News interview. “If you pull back on masking, then you're going to wind up having a danger of peaking again.” 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers a county to have “high” transmission if there have been 100 or more cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 residents or a test positivity rate of 10% or higher in the past seven days. The CDC says that significant mitigation strategies may be needed in areas where there is large scale, community transmission, including in communal settings, like schools and workplaces.

After the CDC said it is safe for people who are vaccinated against Covid-19 to stop wearing masks in most cases, multiple states have lifted or announced plans to lift mask mandates and other pandemic precautions.

6:49 p.m. ET, June 2, 2021

After months of debate, White House prepared to announce next steps in global vaccination effort

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

After months of deliberations, President Biden has finalized his plan to distribute millions of coronavirus vaccines worldwide. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken hinted earlier that an announcement was imminent, and according to multiple sources familiar with the plans, officials could reveal it as soon as Thursday or potentially Friday. 

This week, officials will detail which specific countries are getting vaccines while cautioning that this is expected to be a lengthy, complicated process, according to a person familiar with the deliberations. 

For months, administration aides and federal health officials have deliberated over the best way to share additional vaccines doses. The US has come under intense pressure to help other nations, and several of Biden's top aides have fielded requests from allies to help, including the President himself. Jeff Zients, whom Biden recently tapped to lead efforts to address the pandemic globally, has worked in close coordination with national security adviser Jake Sullivan, sources say. 

Administration officials are expected to lay out the criteria they've agreed on to determine which countries get doses. It remains to be seen whether the US will unilaterally decide which countries get which vaccines, or whether the international vaccine initiative known as COVAX will play a major role in deciding who gets them. It could also be a combination of both, officials say.  

One of the most complicated part of the decision-making process has centered on the enormous operational undertaking that sharing vaccines will require. Zients and Sullivan have worked with multiple federal agencies, including the Defense Department and State Department, to coordinate this, in addition to diplomatic counterparts. 

Two big factors that will matter are quality control and a country's public health infrastructure. 

Right now, only doses of vaccines made by Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson will be distributed, an official told CNN. 

Biden said in May the US would send 60 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses to other countries by July Fourth. But, as of Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. ET, those doses have not cleared a federal safety and efficacy review conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration, another official said. 

6:47 p.m. ET, June 2, 2021

Health officials turn to barber shops and hair salons as possible Covid-19 vaccination sites

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

It's an effort to expand access to coronavirus vaccines: provide shots at the barber shop. 

As part of a White House initiative, the National Association of County and City Health Officials is planning to help train Black-owned barber shops and hair salons to provide accurate vaccination information and even provide vaccines where possible, Lori Tremmel Freeman, chief executive officer of NACCHO, told CNN on Wednesday.

The Biden administration said Wednesday it is teaming up with several organizations — the Black Coalition Against COVID, the University of Maryland Center for Health Equity and the SheaMoisture company — to launch an initiative called "Shots at the Shop." It will engage Black-owned barber shops and beauty salons nationwide in efforts to promote vaccine education and outreach on a local level. 

The White House said throughout June, each participating shop will share information about vaccines with customers, display educational materials, and some will even host on-site vaccination events in partnership with local providers.

"The role that NACCHO's going to play is trying to match barber shops and beauty shops with local health departments, so that we can forge a relationship there and figure out if any of these business locations can also become vaccination sites or what it would take for that to happen. In partnership, health departments may be able to work with these groups to provide health education to customers around vaccination or even supply a public health nurse," Freeman said.

"Local health departments stand ready to work in partnership to leverage these critical trusted community members to address vaccine education, talk about any hesitancy or lack of information, and help facilitate getting vaccinations or clinics to these businesses." 

Several studies — published in the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA Internal Medicine, and other journals — have found that partnerships with barber shops can benefit public health initiatives as well as the patients they are trying to reach, such as with screening for diabetes, monitoring high blood pressure and raising awareness around mental health.

"It's not uncommon for barbers and beauticians to be utilized in different ways in the community for spreading good health messages — that's something we've seen happen a lot," Freeman said. "So this work is a natural extension of something that experience has shown can make a difference in how Black and Brown communities learn about the vaccine and get vaccinated."
5:52 p.m. ET, June 2, 2021

Restaurants and bars in Illinois can give away a free drink to vaccinated customers, governor says

From CNN's Jenn Selva

People enjoy their time in an outside sitting area of a restaurant in Chicago's Navy Pier on Friday, May 14. 
People enjoy their time in an outside sitting area of a restaurant in Chicago's Navy Pier on Friday, May 14.  AP Photo/Shafkat Anowar

Restaurants and bars in Illinois can give away a free drink to customers who have been vaccinated, according to a new law signed Wednesday by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

According to a news release from the governor’s office, the incentive is meant to boost vaccination numbers and bring patrons back to restaurants and bars.  

“Not only will the vaccine protect you from getting sick — your free COVID-19 shot can now get you a free shot of your choosing or whatever drink suits your palate,” Pritzker said. “I’m pleased to sign this legislation into law to offer our hardest-hit businesses another lifeline as we recover from the pandemic.”  

The new law will run from now until July 20, the release noted.

Under the new law, “Cocktails-to-go” will continue to be allowed for both pick-up and delivery. This service has helped businesses make ends meet during the pandemic, the release said.

5:42 p.m. ET, June 2, 2021

North Carolina announces more than $1.1 million to help families struggling during the pandemic 

From CNN’s Kelsie Smith

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday that the state's second round of HOPE program checks for rental and utility assistance are on their way to help families struggling during the pandemic.  

The HOPE program was created last year to aid with rent and utility payments for North Carolina families who were suffering during the pandemic, the governor said at a news conference. The program has already awarded more than $133 million in assistance to over 36,000 families throughout North Carolina. 

Two weeks ago, the state opened a second application period for the program with funds from the American Rescue Plan, Cooper said.

"I’m pleased to announce that checks are already on their way to landlords and utility companies to keep people in their homes with the lights on," he said. 

As of Wednesday, a total of 924 checks for a sum of $1.1 million have already been mailed to residents in need of assistance, he said. "This second version of the HOPE program is serving low-income renters in 88 North Carolina counties, 12 additional mostly larger counties, and five tribal governments received money directly from the federal government to operate their own programs," he said. 

Over 8,000 North Carolinians have applied for assistance in the last two weeks and the state expects more awards to go out each day. All payments will go directly to landlords and utility companies, Cooper said. 

The governor encouraged residents needing assistance to continue to apply for the program. "I strongly encourage landlords and utilities across our state to lend a hand to their communities and to participate in these programs so that we can keep people in their homes with their lights on," the governor said. 


5:20 p.m. ET, June 2, 2021

Next phase of Covid-19 vaccine campaign will be harder, US surgeon general says

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.
US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. CNN via SKYPE

The next phase of the Covid-19 vaccine campaign in the US will be more difficult, but “we’re not giving up,” US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said Wednesday.

President Biden announced a "National Month of Action" Wednesday to try to help meet the administration’s goal of vaccinating 70% of the population by July 4.

“I believe if we do everything that you know we have laid out today, if we have a great response from the community, I think we absolutely can still hit that goal,” Murthy said.

“Because we had so much success early on, we are now getting to the part of the campaign which is tougher,” Murthy added. “We've got to look further, if you will – convince more people, get to the right information, increase access even further.”

4:45 p.m. ET, June 2, 2021

Biden could announce global vaccine distribution plan as early as tomorrow, secretary of state says

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

US President Joe Biden, with Vice President Kamala Harris, speaks on Covid-19 response and vaccinations in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House, in Washington, DC, on June 2.
US President Joe Biden, with Vice President Kamala Harris, speaks on Covid-19 response and vaccinations in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House, in Washington, DC, on June 2. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The Biden administration could announce how it plans to distribute vaccines to the rest of the world as early as tomorrow, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

"In a few short days, in fact possibly as early as tomorrow, the President is going to announce in more detail the plan that he's put together to push out 80 million vaccines around the world that we have at our disposal or soon will have at our disposal," Blinken said Tuesday in remarks at the US Embassy in Costa Rica.

Blinken reiterated that the administration would work "significantly" with COVAX on the vaccine distribution, which will be "based on science and need" and "without any political strings attached."

Some background: Earlier Blinken said he discussed Covid-19 and vaccines in his meeting with the Costa Rican president. He said the US will focus on equity and science.

4:35 p.m. ET, June 2, 2021

Carnival waiting for clarification from Florida governor regarding vaccine passports rules

From CNN’s Pamela Boykoff  

The CEO of Carnival said Wednesday that the company is in dialogue with the office of Florida Gov. Ron Desantis and waiting for clarifications on the state’s vaccine passport rules.  

“We are optimistic that we'll be able to work with all the interested parties to come up with something that serves the best interest of public health and all those people that want vacation experience,” CEO Arnold Donald told CNN.

Some context: Desantis signed a state law last month prohibiting any business from requiring proof of a Covid-19 vaccination.

The law has made life complicated for cruise lines, which are trying to begin a phased return US waters under strict Centers for Disease Control and Prevention restrictions. Abbott has also issued an executive order prohibiting government-mandated proof of inoculation. Carnival hopes to begin operating sailings from July on three ships from Florida and Texas.

“I think the question here is inclusiveness, that if we are at a state where the community is in great shape in terms of risk of spread of the pandemic, that some people, for whatever reason, choose not to be vaccinated,” Donald said, though he encourages everyone to be vaccinated. “The reason we're doing vaccinating now is because that's what we can do. That's what the CDC has allowed us to do, and so, you know, we are just saying we're offering itineraries where people if they're vaccinated can sail. And then we're looking to eventually open cruises when we can and when it's okay to do so in the various places we go.”

3:15 p.m. ET, June 2, 2021

New Jersey will lift indoor gathering limits Friday, governor says

From CNN’s Sahar Akbarzai 

All limits on indoor gathering in the state of New Jersey will be lifted June 4 as part of the state’s plan to ease Covid-19 restrictions, Gov. Phil Murphy announced.

Now, at least 4,259,893 people statewide are fully vaccinated and a total of 9,083,848 total doses of the vaccine have been administered, according to the state’s Covid-19 dashboard. 

More than 5.3 million people in New Jersey who are 12 and over have received at least their first dose of the vaccine, Murphy said.

New Jersey is also the seventh in the nation to have 70% of all adults receive at least their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, according to the governor.

Murphy also discussed the state's plans to shift towards more localized vaccination efforts. 

“The time has come for us to begin to transition away from the mega site model that we built in the very beginning of our vaccination effort into the community based model that will see us through till the end,” Murphy said.

As a result of the transition away from mega sites for vaccines, these locations are scheduling their last doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, which will end towards the end of July. 

“We are localizing it…wherever you live there is a vaccination site near you,” he said, regarding this new transition.  

There are currently 1,800 vaccination sites across the state, Murphy said.