January 3 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Steve George, Amy Woodyatt and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, January 4, 2021
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1:40 p.m. ET, January 3, 2021

Fauci hopes US will pick up coronavirus vaccine momentum

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Anthony Fauci seen at the National Institutes of Health on December 22, 2020, in Bethesda, Maryland. 
Anthony Fauci seen at the National Institutes of Health on December 22, 2020, in Bethesda, Maryland.  Patrick Semansky/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Sunday the US has fallen behind on administering coronavirus vaccines, but he hopes momentum will pick up in the first few weeks of January.   

“There are multiple stages of this: there’s the allocation, there’s the shipping, there’s the distribution and there’s finally getting in people’s arms,” Fauci said.

Fauci said he spoke with Army General Gustave Perna, Operation Warp Speed’s head of vaccine distribution, who explained that 20 million doses have been allocated, about 14 million doses have been shipped and about 13 million have been distributed to the individual clinics and hospitals where people will be vaccinated.

“They had promised it was going to be 20. I asked why we’re not at 20, and there was certainly a bit of a glitch, which he explained. But as we get into the first couple of days and first week of January, very likely we’re going to hit that 20. So we’re going to be somewhat behind by a few days,” Fauci said.

The real issue, according to Fauci, is getting doses into people’s arms.

“We now have about 4 million, which is obviously below where we want to be,” he said. “But if you look at the last 72 hours, there’s been about 1.5 million administered into people’s arms, which is an average of about 500,000 a day,” he added. That “is better than what that 4 million over 20 million proportion tells you.”

Fauci said that the US is not where it wants to be. “We’ve got to do much better,” he said. In a week or two, things may pick up after a holiday slowdown. 

“No excuses — we’re not where we want to be, but hopefully we’ll pick up some momentum and get back to where we want to be with regard to getting it into people’s arms,” Fauci said.

12:57 p.m. ET, January 3, 2021

Four South Carolina counties are at 100% hospital capacity, health officials say

From CNN's Gregory Lemos 

Four of South Carolina's 46 counties are at 100% capacity, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

York County in the North, Jasper County in the South, and Dillon and Marion Counties in the East have 0% capacity for new patients. 

The state reported Sunday it is running a 29.6% Covid-19 positivity rate.   

The department reported nearly 80% of both regular hospital and intensive care unit beds statewide are currently occupied. Patients with Covid-19 make up 24% of regular hospital bed occupants and nearly 20% of patients in ICU beds.  

The state reported 3,952 new cases of Covid-19, 28 new deaths, and 3 probably deaths Sunday. More than 5,000 people have lost their life to the virus since the state began reporting out data.  

NOTE: These numbers were released by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

12:54 p.m. ET, January 3, 2021

UK prepares to roll out Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine

From CNN's Schams Elwazer

Doses of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine arrive at the Princess Royal Hospital on January 2 in West Sussex, England.
Doses of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine arrive at the Princess Royal Hospital on January 2 in West Sussex, England. Gareth Fuller/WPA Pool/Getty Images

The United Kingdom will become the first country in the world to administer the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on Monday as its National Health Service (NHS) “rapidly scales us the biggest immunization program in its history,” NHS England said in a statement.

The vaccines will initially be delivered at “a small number of hospitals for the first few days for surveillance purposes” before the bulk is rolled out to medical practices late in the week, the statement said.

In addition to the 700 vaccination sites already in operation, an additional 100 hospital sites and 180 “GP-led services” are also expected to come on line this week. Tens of thousands of current and former NHS workers are being trained as vaccinators to support the program. 

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is easier to transport and to store than the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine – which was approved for use in the UK last month and has to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius – making it easier to deliver to care homes.

According to the statement, NHS England expects most care home residents to have received the shot by the end of the month.

On Sunday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Twitter the NHS had administered one million Pfizer/BioNTech doses.

British health officials said last week that the gap between first and second doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine should be extended beyond the recommended 21 days in order to allow more people to be vaccinated.

12:36 p.m. ET, January 3, 2021

"There’s no running away" from the Covid-19 numbers, Fauci says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

The death toll from Covid-19 has been a terrible surprise, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Sunday.

Fauci told ABC he had not expected the death toll from Covid-19 would be so high. He said there is no running away from the numbers and that there needs to be very intensive adherence to public health measures across the country. 

“There’s no running away from the numbers,” Fauci said. “It’s something that we have absolutely got to grasp and get our arms around and turn that inflection down by very intensive adherence to the public health measures, uniformly throughout the country, with no exceptions.” 

When asked by ABC’s Martha Raddatz whether he ever expected the Covid-19 death toll to be as high as it is, he said, “No, Martha, I did not.”

“That’s what happens when you’re in a situation where you have surges related to so many factors,” Fauci said. These factors include inconsistent adherence to public health measures, winter weather forcing people indoors and travel associated with the holidays.

These are “all of the ingredients that, unfortunately, make for a situation that is really terrible,” Fauci said. “I mean, to have 300,000 cases in a given day and between 2,000 and 3,000 deaths per day is just terrible.”

3:35 p.m. ET, January 3, 2021

Los Angeles mayor says one person contracts Covid-19 every six seconds in LA County

From CNN's Kay Jones

Doctors and nurses treat a Covid-19 patient at Harbor UCLA Medical Center on December 29, 2020 in Torrence, California.
Doctors and nurses treat a Covid-19 patient at Harbor UCLA Medical Center on December 29, 2020 in Torrence, California. Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told CBS's Face the Nation that one person contracts Covid-19 every six seconds in Los Angeles County.

He attributed the spread to the density of the population as well as household spread.  

He said that while there is high compliance in Los Angeles, there are going to be tough months ahead. He said that the vaccine has made everyone "so hopeful", and they have relaxed their behavior. 

Garcetti also told CBS that although 95% of the people in the county are doing the right thing, it's still a dangerous disease. If only 80% are doing the right thing, he said that it can be disastrous. 

Los Angeles has not received the promised number of vaccines from the federal government, Garcetti said, and they are on pace to receive the vaccines over five years instead of a six-month timespan. 

"The federal government can't tell the local governments and state governments to do something and not give us aid," he said. 

Garcetti said that they have brought in additional medical personnel to distribute the vaccine through walk-up vaccine sites for people who work at places like community sites and Skid Row.  

What the numbers look like: Los Angeles County reported 15,701 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, bringing total number of cases to 806,210.

The latest numbers released by the county's health department shows that 357,420 vaccine doses have been distributed as of December 29, with just 82,886 total doses administered.  

12:30 p.m. ET, January 3, 2021

Dr. Fauci contradicts Trump's tweet on coronavirus deaths, saying "the deaths are real deaths"

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Anthony Fauci contradicted a tweet from President Trump about the Covid-19 death toll Sunday, telling ABC’s Martha Raddatz, “the deaths are real deaths.”

Trump hit Twitter Sunday morning with his often-repeated and incorrect claim that the US has a higher coronavirus toll than any other country because of better testing.  

There’s no basis for the false claim and Fauci said so.

“All you need to do is go out into the trenches, go to the hospitals, see what the health care workers are dealing with,” Fauci said. “They are under very stressed situations in many areas of the country. The hospital beds are stretched, people are running out of beds, running out of trained personnel who are exhausted right now,” added Fauci, who is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a leading White House coronavirus adviser.

“That’s real. That’s not fake. That’s real," Fauci said.

12:09 p.m. ET, January 3, 2021

Italy coronavirus deaths surpass 75,000

From CNN's Livia Borghese

Italy's coronavirus death toll reached 75,332 on Sunday after a rise of 347 daily Covid-19 related deaths, the government's dashboard shows.

The country recorded new 14,245 coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases recorded to 2,155,446.

12:09 p.m. ET, January 3, 2021

Not taking precautions against Covid-19 can impact everyone “in so many other ways,” US surgeon general says  

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

US Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams, talked to CNN’s Jake Tapper Sunday about the personal impact of Covid-19 on his family, saying that he wants people to understand that it has impacts in so many other ways.

On Thursday, Adams tweeted that his wife, Lacey, had been admitted to hospital due to complications from her cancer treatment and that he was not able to see her because of Covid-19.

Adams started by saying “I appreciate all the thoughts and prayers that people have sent to us because it really does matter,” adding that Oprah Winfrey called and wished his wife well yesterday.

“I want people to understand that if you don’t take precautions against Covid because you don’t feel at risk, it can impact you, your family, your community in so many other ways,” he continued. “I, as the Surgeon General of the United States, had to drop my wife off at the front door and couldn’t see her go in to the hospital, hadn’t been able to visit her, didn’t know if she was going to have a hospital bed because of all of the Covid precautions and because of the capacity issues that are present because of the virus.”

Adams said people going in to hospital for reasons like going into labor, a heart attack or being in a car crash may not have the bed that they need because ICU’s are full. 

“I want your viewers to know that we need everyone to pull together, take these precautions even if you don’t feel at risk from Covid because it has implications in so many other ways,” Adams said.

10:55 a.m. ET, January 3, 2021

“We have the tools, regardless of the strain, to be able to defeat this virus,” says US surgeon general 

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaks with CNN on Sunday, January 3.
US Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaks with CNN on Sunday, January 3. CNN

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday that while it’s hard to say if the new coronavirus strain is widespread across the country, the US has the tools regardless of the strain to defeat it.

The new strain, first identified in the United Kingdom, has now been reported in Colorado, California and Florida. 

“It’s hard to say if it’s widespread or not, but it is here,” Adams said, adding that it was in many other countries.

The most important thing to know, he said, is “we do not, so far, feel that this new strain or these new strains will be resistant to the vaccines or to the therapeutics that we have available. So, that’s good news.” 

Adams said that if someone feels that a new strain is more contagious, “and it looks like these new strains may be more contagious, even if they’re not more deadly,” it means that following public health measures and getting people vaccinated as quickly as possible is even more important.

 “The bottom line is, we have the tools, regardless of the strain, to be able to defeat this virus, we just need the will to actually follow through and do the things that we know will help us,” said Adams.