January 4 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Zamira Rahim and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:03 a.m. ET, January 5, 2021
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4:41 p.m. ET, January 4, 2021

Upstate New York man has tested positive for the UK strain of Covid-19, governor says

From CNN's Sonia Moghe and Laura Dolan

New York Gov. Cuomo
New York Gov. Cuomo New York Governor's Office

New York Gov. Cuomo announced Monday that a person has tested positive for the UK strain of Covid-19, confirmed by the state’s Department of Health laboratory in Wadsworth.

The case is tied to a jewelry store in Saratoga Springs, and the man who tested positive did not travel recently. Cuomo said that since the man did not travel, it suggests the strain is in the community.

The man is in his 60’s and was symptomatic. Cuomo said the man is now on the mend.

Cuomo called on anyone who visited the store, called N. Fox Jewelers, between Dec. 18 to Dec. 24 to get tested.   

Three other people associated with the store have also tested positive. The lab in Wadsworth is testing those now to see if what strain of Covid-19 those three have.

The store was closed from Dec. 24 through today.

3:24 p.m. ET, January 4, 2021

Covid-19 cases are rising in the Georgia county where Trump will hold a rally tonight

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

Whitfield County, Georgia – where President Trump will headline a Republican rally Monday night ahead of Tuesday’s runoff election – has the second highest coronavirus case rate in the state and one of the highest in the country.

With nearly 11,600 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents, Whitfield County lands among the 150 most infected counties in the country, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Whitfield County also surpasses state and national rates of Covid-19 deaths. The death rate in the country for Covid-19 is 121 per 100,000 people, compared to 103 per 100,000 in Georgia and 107 per 100,000 in the US as a whole.

Data from the Georgia Department of Public Health also shows that Whitfield County is outpacing the state in the rate of new cases. In the past two weeks, the county saw 1,211 new cases per 100,000 people, 68% higher than the state rate of 719 cases per 100,000 people.

Atlanta’s Fulton County, meanwhile, is faring better than Georgia overall. The county has had 648 new cases per 100,000 people in the past two weeks, according to data from the state health department.

3:41 p.m. ET, January 4, 2021

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces national lockdown for England

From CNN’s Luke McGee

Pool
Pool

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a national lockdown for England Monday night on the heels of a warning from top medical advisers that the country’s National Health Service was in danger of being overwhelmed by coronavirus cases within 21 days.

“It is clear that we need to do more to bring this new variant under control,” Johnson said. “That means the government is once again instructing you to stay at home.”

The lockdown is expected to remain in place at least through the middle of February.

Coronavirus cases are surging in the country due to the new variant, with 30% more Covid-19 patients in hospitals in England on Monday than a week earlier.

The announcement for England follows an announcement earlier Monday that Scotland would go into lockdown. Wales and Northern Ireland, the other two nations of the United Kingdom, were already in lockdown.

2:50 p.m. ET, January 4, 2021

130 New York City school buildings are closed due to Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Elizabeth Stuart

In New York City, 130 school buildings are currently closed due to cases of Covid-19. 

One hundred of those buildings are under a two-week closure, and an additional 30 buildings are under a 24-hour closure, according to New York City's Department of Education (DOE).

There are currently 169 active Covid-19 cases, according to the DOE's tracking website. Thirty-two cases are students and 137 are among staff members. That brings the total to 7,176 cases among NYC students and staff since the DOE started keeping track in mid-September.

This latest update comes on the heels of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issuing guidance for counties that are testing at more than a 9% positivity rate to keep schools open if individual district's numbers are lower than those of the county. New York City is currently at a 9% positivity rate, according to Monday's data.

Schools in NYC have been open for some in-person learning for elementary school students since December. In-person learning is expected to be offered for middle school and high schoolers in early 2021, but no date is currently set.

2:41 p.m. ET, January 4, 2021

Only 4 states have administered at least half of their Covid-19 doses, CDC data shows

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

A pharmacist reconstitutes the Pfizer/BioNTech before having it administered to people at the Hartford Convention Center in Hartford, Connecticut on Monday, January 4.
A pharmacist reconstitutes the Pfizer/BioNTech before having it administered to people at the Hartford Convention Center in Hartford, Connecticut on Monday, January 4. Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images

Fewer than 30% of the 15.4 million Covid-19 vaccine doses distributed in the US have been administered, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The figures, last updated Monday, show a slight slowdown in the rate of vaccine administration. As of Saturday morning, the rate was closer to 33% administered. 

Only four states have administered at least half of the Covid-19 vaccine doses that have been distributed to them, according to the CDC data. Those states are: South Dakota, North Dakota, Tennessee and Connecticut.

Meanwhile, in 12 states, fewer than a quarter of the doses distributed have been administered.

  • Kansas: 15.3%
  • Georgia: 15.5%
  • Arizona: 16.1%
  • Louisiana: 22.7%
  • Virginia: 23.2%
  • Florida: 23.3%
  • Washington: 23.8%
  • Maryland: 23.9%
  • Oregon: 24.1%
  • California: 24.2%
  • Nevada: 24.3%
  • Alabama: 24.8% 

The CDC tracks vaccine distribution and administration – for both Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna – through submissions from states and other jurisdictions. Health care providers may report doses up to 72 hours after administration.

 

2:34 p.m. ET, January 4, 2021

Scientists worry mutations in Covid-19 variant first seen in South Africa may affect vaccine response

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Scientists in Britain said Monday they are increasingly concerned that that the pattern of mutations in a variant of the novel coronavirus first identified in South Africa may affect the protection offered by some vaccines.

While that variant shares the same N501Y mutation as another variant first identified in the United Kingdom, it also has two other mutations called E484K and K417N. They affect the spike protein – the part of the virus that attaches to the cells it infects.

Most of the coronavirus vaccines are also designed to train the body to recognize the spike protein, or parts of it, and the fears are that if it mutates too much, vaccines will no longer be as effective.

"These two additional mutations may interfere more with vaccine effectiveness in the South African variant," Dr. Julian Tang, honorary associate professor and virologist at the University of Leicester, said in a statement distributed by the UK-based Science Media Center on Monday. 

"This does not mean that the existing COVID-19 vaccines will not work at all, just that the antibodies induced by the current vaccines may not bind and neutralize the South African variant as well as it would the other circulating viruses - including the UK variant," Tang said.

Lawrence Young, professor of molecular oncology at the University of Warwick, said in a separate statement on Monday that "the accumulation of more spike mutations in the South African variant are more of a concern and could lead to some escape from immune protection."

Meanwhile, scientists are working to better understand the new variant, its mutations and their significance. "Some of the changes are quite significant and thus scientists are paying a lot of attention. We do not yet know enough to say more than this," James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, said in a statement on Monday. 

Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization's technical lead for coronavirus response, told CNN Sunday that scientists are doing tests to assess the vaccine's efficacy against the variant first found in South Africa, which has 22 mutations.

 

2:23 p.m. ET, January 4, 2021

Texas congresswoman tests positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Manu Raju

Samuel Corum/Getty Image/FILE
Samuel Corum/Getty Image/FILE

Rep. Kay Granger, a Republican from Texas, has tested positive for coronavirus, her office announced in a statement Monday.

Read the statement: 

“When she arrived in DC for the beginning of the 117th Congress, Congresswoman Kay Granger was tested for coronavirus in accordance with the Attending Physician’s guidance for Members when traveling from their home state. She was later notified that she tested positive and immediately quarantined. Having received the vaccine in December, she is asymptomatic and feeling great! She will remain under the care of the her doctor.”

Read more on the members of Congress who have tested positive for coronavirus or its antibodies here.

1:51 p.m. ET, January 4, 2021

CDC says 15.4 million coronavirus vaccine doses distributed in US, but just 4.5 million people immunized

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

A health care worker receives the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at the Hartford Convention Center in Hartford, Connecticut, on Monday, January 4.
A health care worker receives the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at the Hartford Convention Center in Hartford, Connecticut, on Monday, January 4. Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images

Just over 15.4 million coronavirus vaccine doses have been distributed in the US, but only 4.5 million people have been given their first doses as of 9 a.m. on Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

That’s just 337,000 more doses than were given out as of Saturday, according to the CDC.

US federal health officials have been trying to explain why so few vaccines have been given out, after repeated promises to have vaccinated 20 million people by the end of December. Earlier Monday, Operation Warp Speed chief scientific adviser Moncef Slaoui said “nothing has gone wrong,” even as he acknowledged delays. 

“We worked with the states to immunize. We agree that there is a lag. We’ll work with the states,” Slaoui told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day.” Officials have also revised their forecasts to say 20 million doses would be distributed by the end of 2020, but Monday’s numbers show the US is still nearly 5 million doses short of the distribution goal.

The CDC said 2.5 million doses have been distributed to long term care facilities and 365,294 people have been given vaccines in those facilities. The CDC said the reported numbers can take 72 hours to come in.

1:50 p.m. ET, January 4, 2021

UK coronavirus alert level should move from Level 4 to Level 5, medical officials say

From CNN's Nada Bashir

An ambulance at the Royal Free Hospital in London, on Monday, January 4.
An ambulance at the Royal Free Hospital in London, on Monday, January 4. Hollie Adams/Bloomberg/Getty Images

UK Chief Medical Officers and the NHS England Medical Director have recommended that the national coronavirus alert level be moved from Level 4 to Level 5 in response to rising cases and growing pressure on the country’s National Health Service (NHS). 

“Following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in the light of the most recent data, the four UK Chief Medical Officers and NHS England Medical Director recommend that the UK Alert Level should move from Level 4 to Level 5,” UK Chief Medical Officers said in a statement on Monday. 

“Many parts of the health systems in the four nations are already under immense pressure. There are currently very high rates of community transmission, with substantial numbers of COVID patients in hospitals and in intensive care,” they added. 

According to the statement, the spread of the “new more transmissible variant” has led to rising cases “almost everywhere” in the UK.

“We are not confident that the NHS can handle a further sustained rise in cases and without further action there is a material risk of the NHS in several areas being overwhelmed over the next 21 days,” UK Chief Medical Officers said. 

The statement comes just hours ahead of a national address from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is expected to outline new measures the government will be taking to tackle the spread of the virus.