January 7 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Zamira Rahim and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:05 a.m. ET, January 8, 2021
14 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
6:28 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Open letter from US physicians calls on Biden administration to mail masks to all American homes

From CNN's Keri Enriquez

An N95 mask hangs next to a hand sanitizer dispenser on a reception's desk at a clinic in Lansing, Michigan on October 18, 2020.
An N95 mask hangs next to a hand sanitizer dispenser on a reception's desk at a clinic in Lansing, Michigan on October 18, 2020. Emily Elconin/Bloomberg/Getty Images

A group of US physicians has written an open letter calling on the incoming Biden administration to manufacture and mail high-filtration masks to homes across America.

The letter, which was first published on the STAT health news website Thursday, also calls for a national mask initiative, as transmission of the coronavirus surges in the US.

The group argues that while cloth and surgical masks provide some level of protection, high filtration (hi-fi) masks, like the N95, ensure a higher level of filtration and are considered the gold-standard in protection against small virus carrying particles.

Ideally, a set of masks would be mailed to each household every month -- the costs of doing so pale in comparison to the pandemic's toll on lives and the economy,” the authors write.

The authors of the letter include Drs. Abraar Karan and Ranu Dhillon of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, along with Devabhaktuni Srikrishna, founder of Patient Knowhow, a patient education platform.

It encourages the incoming Biden team to use the Defense Production Act to immediately scale up manufacturing of high-filtration masks for distribution to the American public.

Hi-fi masks such as N95s substantially reduce the chance of spread while in direct close contact with those who are infected,” the letter states.

Dr. Karan told CNN that masks are more critical than ever, as newly discovered variants of the coronavirus appear to be more transmissible.

“Masks aren’t affected by change in variants,” he said.

The US reported 253,145 new Covid-19 cases and 3,865 new deaths on Wednesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

CNN is tracking coronavirus' spread across the country here:

5:56 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

South Korea extends ban on flights from Britain after reporting new cases of UK Covid-19 variant

from CNN's Jake Kwon in Seoul

Health workers wait to screen passengers at Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea on December 29, 2020.
Health workers wait to screen passengers at Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea on December 29, 2020. Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

South Korea has extended its restrictions on flights from the UK after it reported three new cases of the new Covid-19 strain that was first discovered in southeast England.

The variant was detected on Wednesday in family members of an infected person who had traveled from the UK in December, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said Thursday.

The KDCA added that it does not believe the three new cases had contact with others in the community.

There are now 14 confirmed cases of the UK Covid-19 variant in South Korea and one case of the South African variant.

South Korea originally introduced the flight ban on December 23 and had previously been extended until January 7.

The KDCA said Thursday it will extend the restrictions from the UK for another two weeks until January 21 to block further entry of the variant.

On December 29 South Korea said it would restrict new visas for travelers from the UK and South Africa, after recording its first cases of the UK variant from travelers from London on December 22.

5:09 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Oxford/AstraZeneca shot rolled out to doctors in England, after UK tops 1,000 daily deaths

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

Doses of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca are checked at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath, England on January 2.
Doses of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca are checked at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath, England on January 2. Gareth Fuller/Pool/AP

English health authorities will roll out the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to primary care centers today, the country's National Health Service (NHS) said in a statement.

Authorities hope that the arrival of the shot at General Practice (GP) surgeries will mark a new phase in the UK's struggle against the Covid-19 pandemic.

NHS England said hundreds of new vaccination sites are opening at English hospitals and in the community, "on top of the 700 which were already open and vaccinating."

“GPs, nurses, pharmacists and countless other staff and volunteers have been working around the clock to be able to launch almost 200 more sites this week," said Dr. Nikki Kanani, GP and NHS medical director for primary care.
“Combined with the arrival of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, we will now be able to protect many more vulnerable people against the virus and faster.”

The UK is currently grappling with a devastating wave of the pandemic. On Wednesday, it recorded its highest daily increase in coronavirus-related deaths since April, with a total of 1,041 fatalities registered. 

Seven vaccination centres will be among many more sites coming online next week, along with more hospitals, GP-led services and a number of pilot pharmacy vaccine services, the NHS England statement added.

More than 1.3 million people have so far been vaccinated in the UK, the British government said this week.

“We are aiming to offer vaccinations to all 13 million people in the top four priority cohorts by mid-February. This will ensure the most vulnerable are protected and will save lives," UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in the NHS England press release.

Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, the Oxford vaccine does not need to be stored at ultra-low temperatures and is much easier to distribute.

The UK health minister responsible for the vaccine program's deployment, Nadhim Zahawi, told Sky News Wednesday that the task to vaccinate all 13 million people was a "Herculean" one but was achievable.

4:01 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

State of emergency announced for Japan's capital Tokyo

From CNN's Junko Ogura in Tokyo

People walk past a public service display promoting social distancing at a concourse leading to the terminal station in Tokyo's Shinjuku district on January 6.
People walk past a public service display promoting social distancing at a concourse leading to the terminal station in Tokyo's Shinjuku district on January 6. Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency for the country's capital Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures at a government task force meeting Thursday. 

The state of emergency will go into effect for Tokyo and the prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa from Friday until February 2, Suga said.

This comes after Japan reported its highest daily increase of Covid-19 cases from Wednesday.

3:47 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

US congressman announces positive Covid-19 test results 4 hours after voting

From CNN's Kristin Wilson and Daniella Diaz

Jake LaTurner talks with members of the 2nd congressional district during a meeting at the annual GOP convention in Topeka, Kansas on February 16, 2019.
Jake LaTurner talks with members of the 2nd congressional district during a meeting at the annual GOP convention in Topeka, Kansas on February 16, 2019. Mark Reinstein/Corbis/Getty Images

US Rep. Jake LaTurner has tested positive for Covid-19, the Kansas Republican said in a tweet. He is not experiencing any symptoms.

LaTurner voted in person four hours ago on the House floor, per the clerk of the House of Representative's vote tally.

LaTurner is following the advice of the House physician and CDC guidelines and, therefore, does not plan to return to the House floor for votes until he is cleared to do so.

1:39 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

US reports more than 253,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Joe Sutton

A healthcare worker collects a specimen at a Covid-19 testing site in Randolph, Massachusetts, on January 5.
A healthcare worker collects a specimen at a Covid-19 testing site in Randolph, Massachusetts, on January 5. Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

Some 253,145 new cases of Covid-19 and a record-setting 3,865 new virus-related deaths were recorded in the United States on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases.

As of the end of the day Wednesday, there have been at least 21,299,340 cases of coronavirus in the US, and at least 361,123 people who contracted the virus have died.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

Vaccine numbers: At least 17,288,950 vaccine doses have been distributed across the country. At least 5,306,797 shots have been administered, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

1:10 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

US reports more than 3,800 Covid-19 deaths in new daily record

From CNN's Dave Alsup

Another day, another grim Covid-19 record in the United States.

At least 3,865 Covid-19-related deaths were reported in the country on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University -- the most in a single day of the pandemic.

The previous record -- 3,775 -- was set Tuesday, and public health officials have warned things could get worse before they get better.

The US has reported 361,123 total deaths, according to JHU data.  

Winter surge: Coronavirus cases have skyrocketed throughout the country in recent months, partly due to the cold winter weather and surges caused by people gathering during the holiday season. The nation's epicenter remains in Los Angeles County, where more than 1,000 people were killed by the virus in less than a week.

Vaccines provide a glimmer of hope as case numbers climb, but their distribution has gone slower than expected. US governors are now taking new measures to get the distributed vaccines into arms faster, including mobilizing National Guard members and training more volunteers to administer doses.

Track US cases:

12:59 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

States begin to prioritize more people for vaccination as "messy" rollout continues

From CNN's Jen Christensen

A healthcare worker administers a Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine at the John Knox Village Continuing Care Retirement Community in Pompano Beach, Florida, on January 6.
A healthcare worker administers a Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine at the John Knox Village Continuing Care Retirement Community in Pompano Beach, Florida, on January 6. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The US coronavirus vaccine rollout has been slow, and some states eager to move more doses are beginning to vaccinate more than the health care workers and nursing home residents initially at the front of the line.

Just 5.3 million of the 17.3 million doses distributed have been administered in the United States -- only 30.7%. That doesn't come to close to the target the Trump administration set in the fall to administer 20 million vaccines to Americans by the end of 2020.

So, many states are taking steps to speed things up.

Read more about what states are doing:

2:02 a.m. ET, January 7, 2021

California urges residents not to travel farther than 120 miles from home

From CNN's Sarah Moon

Vehicles travel along Interstate 80 in Berkeley, California, on December, 22, 2020.
Vehicles travel along Interstate 80 in Berkeley, California, on December, 22, 2020. David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images

California officials are urging residents to limit all non-essential travel to within 120 miles from one’s home and avoid traveling to neighboring states or countries.

Anyone arriving in or returning to the state is urged to self-quarantine for 10 days, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) said in a statement.

California -- the epicenter of the current coronavirus surge in the United States -- is also discouraging any non-essential visitors from out of state.

The recommendations are not mandatory, but the statement said local officials could consider enacting "measures that are more restrictive than this statewide order." 

The department warned that visitors or residents returning to California could introduce new sources of infection, including the new strains of the virus.

“Intra-state travel, likewise threatens to exacerbate community spread within California— particularly because travel itself (especially the use of shared conveyances in air, bus, or rail travel) can increase a person's chance of spreading and getting Covid-19,” CDPH said.

For reference, the distance from Los Angeles to San Diego is approximately 120 miles. The distance from Los Angeles to San Francisco is approximately 381 miles.