January 12 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Ivana Kottasová, Florence Davey-Attlee and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, January 13, 2021
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11:16 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

Arizona sets new Covid-19 record with more than 1,000 patients in the ICU

From CNN’s Konstantin Toropin

The state of Arizona continues to set records for the number of Covid-19 patients currently hospitalized. The state set another record on Tuesday with 5,082 people hospitalized, according to the state's data dashboard.

The state is also reporting a record-setting 1,183 patients in ICU beds with the virus, according to the dashboard.

Arizona has been experiencing a surge in Covid-19 hospitalizations for more than a month. Before the winter season, the state's record for number of inpatients hospitalized with Covid-19 was 3,517 set on July 13, 2020. The state surpassed that record on December 11 when it reported 3,534 patients. The tally of patients has, with a few exceptions, risen every day since.

 Arizona has reported a total of 636,100 cases of Covid-19 and 10,482 reported deaths to the disease since the pandemic began.

Note: Some of these numbers were released by the Arizona Department of Health Services and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN's database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

11:02 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

Minnesota case is earliest known evidence of coronavirus variant in US

From CNN's Michael Nedelman

A Minnesota case of the coronavirus variant first identified in the UK nudges back the timeline of when the strain was known to be circulating in the United States.

The earliest known positive sample in the US was taken Dec. 18 from a person in Minnesota, according to data posted Monday to the genomic database GISAID. On Saturday, the state health department announced separately it had identified five cases in the Twin Cities metro area, the earliest of whom had symptoms starting Dec. 16. State health officials said they were not aware of any hospitalizations caused by the variant.

The first announcement of a case in the US came from Colorado officials on Dec. 29. Previously, a sample in Florida taken on December 19 was the earliest known evidence of the virus in the US, per GISAID. Collection dates were not available for all US samples.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports at least 72 cases of the variant in 10 US states, according to data posted Monday. The variant has also been identified in at least four dozen countries worldwide. While the variant appears to spread more easily, there's no evidence that it's any more deadly or causes more severe disease, CDC says.

10:45 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

Citi Field stadium, home to the New York Mets, will become a vaccination site

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

Steven Ryan/Getty Images
Steven Ryan/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the owner of the New York Mets Steve Cohen jointly announced that a vaccination mega-site will be set up at the Citi Field Major League Baseball stadium later this month.

This 24/7 site – which will be run by NYC Health and Hospitals and will be able to serve 5,000 to 7,000 people a day — will launch the week of Jan. 25.

He said the Mets organization really "stepped up to the plate" to help.

De Blasio said Queens residents, and all New Yorkers are welcome. "We even welcome Yankee’s fans."

Cohen, the new owner of the New York Mets, appeared virtually at the briefing on Tuesday. 

"It’s so important. We know the suffering that’s going on with Covid and anyway the organization could help support this effort we were going to do it."

He added of the stadium, "we can be reached by subways, by trains, by highways – we’re the intersection of Queens." 

"The goal is to just get the vaccine in peoples arms, so we can get this crisis over with and get back to living a normal life," Cohen said. 

This isn't the first Major League Baseball stadium to serve as a vaccination site: The Dodger Stadium will also become a Covid-19 vaccination site by the end of the week and will no longer offer testing after today, according to a statement from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. 

Once the site is fully operational, up to 12,000 people can be vaccinated per day, the statement said, adding that the transition to a vaccination site will reduce testing capacity in the county but will triple the number of vaccines available to residents. Plans are underway to scale up testing at other locations throughout the county.  

10:39 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

DC extends Covid-19 indoor dining restrictions

From CNN's Ali Main and Ellie Kaufman 

People dine outside at Peacock Cafe on November 28, 2020 in Washington, DC
People dine outside at Peacock Cafe on November 28, 2020 in Washington, DC Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

In an order posted Monday, Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser extended a pause on activities, including indoor dining and museum visits, through Jan. 22

While this order is related to curbing activities to prevent spread of coronavirus, it also comes at a time when the city is on heightened alert after the events at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and could deter some visitors from coming to the District. 

This order was initially meant to expire on Jan. 15.

Bowser had told reporters on Dec. 23 that she did not expect to extend that date, because the three-week period was meant to be an "intervention interval" to curb coronavirus cases over the holidays. But yesterday, she told reporters that the public safety emergency was factoring into her decision.

9:37 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

Biden transition has discussed use of National Guard and military for Covid-19 vaccine distribution

From CNN’s MJ Lee

President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team has discussed with governors the use of the National Guard, and as part of the ongoing agency review process discussed with the Department of Defense, the use of the military, for the incoming administration’s Covid-19 vaccination efforts, a transition official tells CNN.

Biden said recently that one way in which his Covid-19 task force will look to speed up the national Covid vaccination process after he takes office would be to potentially utilize the National Guard at mass vaccination sites.

As CNN reported today, the deployment of the National Guard as part of the vaccination efforts is one of the major details that the Biden’s Covid-19 team is deliberating over just days away from inauguration.

Currently, the majority of states are not using the National Guard as part of their vaccination efforts.

National Guard spokesperson Wayne Hall told CNN that as of Monday morning, there were ten states where National Guard members were being utilized to help vaccinate civilians.

They were, according to Hall: New Hampshire, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, California, Nevada, Arizona and Michigan.

Biden has also previously said that governors who choose to deploy the National Guard for any Covid-19 relief efforts need to receive funding to cover those costs. His stated goal is to get 100 million vaccine shots into arms in his first 100 days in office.


9:36 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

More than 50% of Florida's vaccines have gone to senior population, governor says 

From CNN's Tina Burnside and Devon Sayers 

A healthcare worker administers a Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine at a retirement community in Pompano Beach, Florida, on January 6.
A healthcare worker administers a Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine at a retirement community in Pompano Beach, Florida, on January 6. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In a video message released Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis says the state of Florida remains focused on vaccinating the senior population. 

"Florida is putting seniors first" DeSantis said. More than 50% of the total vaccinations administered in the state have been for individuals 65 and older, the governor said. 

Last week the state of Florida vaccinated 223,000 seniors, which is nearly 70% of all people vaccinated for week 4 alone, he added. 

DeSantis says although the demand for the vaccine remains high, they will continue working to support high-performing health care providers that exceed their targets for vaccine distribution. 

"If you are doing a good job of getting shots in arms, we will prioritize you to receive additional supply. If you are not using your vaccine allotments efficiently, then we will look to see where they can be better utilized," DeSantis said. 
9:25 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

Moderna says "there would be no problem" for US government agencies to plan second doses as needed

From CNN's John Bonifield

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at Queens Police Academy on Monday, January 11 in New York.
A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at Queens Police Academy on Monday, January 11 in New York. Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Ray Jordan, a spokesperson for Moderna, told CNN the company is not publicly providing weekly or monthly estimates of production.

However, they have been working closely with the new administration and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who are being informed of what Moderna can supply.

"Thus there would be no problem for the government agencies to plan second doses as needed," Jordan said. 

The Department of Health and Human Services is expected to announce sweeping changes in vaccine rollout guidelines today, in an effort to boost the lagging number of vaccinations in the first month. 

A senior administration official tells CNN that the Trump administration plans to release reserved second doses immediately – a plan already announced by President-Elect Joe Biden and first reported by CNN. The official expects reserved doses to be distributed over the next two weeks.

The administration is also expected to adjust guidelines to allow vaccinations immediately for anyone older than 65 and would help states set up mass vaccination sites should they request assistance. The administration wants to shift focus away from hospitals and focus more on adding more accessible venues, such as pharmacies, the official said.

9:49 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

CNN correspondent's emotional plea: "No family should be going through this"

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

CNN correspondent Sara Sidner grows emotional after reporting on a family in California that was forced to hold a funeral in a parking lot due to Covid-19. 
CNN correspondent Sara Sidner grows emotional after reporting on a family in California that was forced to hold a funeral in a parking lot due to Covid-19.  CNN

After reporting on a family in California that was forced to hold a funeral in a parking lot due to Covid-19, CNN correspondent Sara Sidner grew emotional and warned people to not let their guard down during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“This is the tenth hospital that I have been in, and to see the way that these families have to live after this and the heartache that goes so far and so wide, it’s really hard to take,” Sidner said between tears.

“It's just not OK. It's not OK what we're doing to each other. These families should not be going through this. No family should be going through this. So, please, listen to what this family is saying,” Sidner added.

Juliana Jimenez Sesma’s mother and stepfather died of Covid-19 within 11 days of each other. Her family had to hold their funeral in a parking lot so the family could socially distance while grieving.

“Don't let this be you. If you truly love your loved ones, don't let this be you. Continue to take all the precautions. Take extra precautions,” Sesma said.

Hear the emotional story:

9:28 a.m. ET, January 12, 2021

US Health secretary admits vaccine administration in states has been “too narrowly focused”

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks at George Washington University Hospital on December 14, 2020 in Washington, DC.
US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks at George Washington University Hospital on December 14, 2020 in Washington, DC. Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/Getty Images

After a slow vaccine rollout, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar described on Good Morning America on Tuesday changes that will make all vaccine doses available in the US, broaden the groups states are urged to vaccinate and open more channels of administration.

Azar said the change is “just a staging, moving to the next phase on the vaccine program,” although a senior administration official tells CNN the shifts comes after two Operation Warp Speed meetings Azar held over the past 48 hours on how to speed up the lagging process.

As recently as Friday, Operation Warp Speed had pushed back on the Biden administration plan to release all available vaccine doses.

“We’ve had so much success with quality and predictable manufacturing and almost flawless distribution of the vaccine, but we have seen now that the administration in the states has been too narrowly focused,” Azar said Tuesday. 

As part of the new plan, “we have already made available every dose of vaccine,” Azar said, explaining that second doses were previously held back. “We now believe that our manufacturing is predictable enough that we can ensure second doses are available for people from ongoing production. So everything is now available to our states and our health care providers.” 

Second, he said, they are calling on governors to vaccinate people 65 and older and people younger than 65 with comorbidities, saying “we’ve already distributed more vaccine than we have health care workers and people in nursing homes.” 

Finally, “we’ve got to get to more channels of administration, we’ve got to get it to pharmacies, get it to community health centers,” he said, adding that they are there and will deploy teams to supports states doing mass vaccination efforts if they wish to do so. He also said “it has been overly hospitalized so far in too many states.”