January 14 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Florence Davey-Attlee, Ed Upright and Hira Humayun, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, January 15, 2021
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8:21 p.m. ET, January 14, 2021

US President-elect Joe Biden outlines Covid-19 relief plan

From CNN's Hira Humayun

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

US President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday evening outlined a $1.9 trillion emergency legislative package to fund a nationwide vaccination effort and provide economic relief to Americans amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The two-step proposal will be called the American Rescue Plan. It includes direct cash payments, extended unemployment insurance, rent relief, food assistance, keeping essential front-line workers on the job, and aid to small businesses.

It allocates more than $400 billion toward addressing the pandemic, including $160 billion in funding for a national vaccination program and expanded testing, among other measures.

The proposal also includes $1,400 stimulus checks for Americans and extending and expanding unemployment benefits through September.

Read more about the package here.

Watch President-elect Biden discuss details of his relief plan:

8:04 p.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Former Trump admin whistleblower says public trust eroded over vaccine rollout 

From CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen

Bright testifies during a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing to discuss protecting scientific integrity in response to the coronavirus outbreak on Thursday, May 14, in Washington, DC.
Bright testifies during a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing to discuss protecting scientific integrity in response to the coronavirus outbreak on Thursday, May 14, in Washington, DC. Greg Nash/Pool/Getty Images/FILE

A former Trump administration whistleblower said public trust has suffered over the vaccine rollout.

We’ve already seen an over-promise and under-deliver [situation] with this vaccine, that has eroded trust,” Rick Bright said at an Aspen Institute briefing.

Bright, formerly the head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, resigned from his post at the National Institutes of Health last year after filing a whistleblower complaint alleging that his early warnings about the coronavirus were ignored and his caution about hydroxychloroquine led to his removal.

He said vaccine manufacturing doesn’t always go exactly as planned.

“Making vaccines is very difficult. It's biology, things will go wrong, regardless how much effort and attention and quality oversight you put on it, they will go wrong,” Bright, who is a member of President-elect Biden's Covid-19 task force, said.

“As we go forward, we want to make very sure that we lay out the challenges and the areas where things can go wrong and when they go wrong - that's normal,” he said.

“Setting those expectations, doing our best to not over promise and under deliver on those timelines and doses is going to be really critical messaging on the vaccines and vaccination schedules to maintain the trust of the population."

7:41 p.m. ET, January 14, 2021

New York City will be reimbursed the $5.9 billion it spent on Covid-19 pandemic

From CNN's Julian Cummings

New York City will be reimbursed fully for the $5.9 billion dollars spent so far fighting the coronavirus, Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a presentation for the city’s 2022 fiscal budget.

De Blasio said that Senator Chuck Schumer told him a deal has been reached with the incoming Biden administration for FEMA to repay 100 percent of the money the city has spent fighting Covid. Previously NYC was responsible for 25 percent and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would pick up the remaining 75 percent of costs “at some point.”

The policy shift will be retroactive to the beginning of the pandemic and will bring in an additional $1 billion dollars to the city preventing further cuts to programs like fair student funding and delaying the expansion of 3K for all, according to de Blasio.

The city has lost a total of $10.5 billion dollars in tax revenue from fiscal year 2020 to fiscal year 2022. Lost revenue, primarily from a decline in property tax revenue, has created a $5.25 billion dollar budget deficit in the proposed 2022 budget. 

DeBlasio said that city avoided cutting 22,000 jobs this fall by asking federal agencies to find cuts, which led to $1.3 billion in savings. 

“I can say right now there is no plan to move forward with layoffs. They will only be an absolute last resort,” he said.  

7:29 p.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Study: Pandemic will reduce life expectancy for Black and Latino populations by three to four times more than Whites

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

The coronavirus pandemic is set to knock more than a year off the average US life expectancy, and will reduce life expectancy for Black and Latino populations by three to four times more than Whites, researchers reported Thursday.

In the US, the pandemic will have a larger impact on life expectancy than a recent drug overdose epidemic that caused a startling two-year drop in life expectancy after decades of constant improvements, the researchers said.

“We project that COVID-19 will reduce US life expectancy in 2020 by 1.13 years,” Theresa Andrasfay of the University of Southern California and Noreen Goldman of Princeton University’s Office of Population Research write in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Estimated reductions for the Black and Latino populations are three to four times that for Whites. Consequently, COVID-19 is expected to reverse over 10 years of progress made in closing the Black−White gap in life expectancy and reduce the previous Latino mortality advantage by over 70%,” they added.

And it may be a multi-year effect. “Some reduction in life expectancy may persist beyond 2020 because of continued COVID-19 mortality and long-term health, social, and economic impacts of the pandemic,” they wrote.

The researchers used Census Bureau data and data on actual and projected deaths from the pandemic of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and the National Center for Health Statistics. They used various models and estimates for mortality rates.

“Our medium estimate indicates a reduction in US life expectancy at birth of 1.13 years to 77.48 years lower than any year since 2003,” they wrote.

“The Black and Latino populations are estimated to experience declines in life expectancy at birth of 2.10 and 3.05 years, respectively, both of which are several times the 0.68-year reduction for Whites. These projections imply an increase of nearly 40% in the Black−White life expectancy gap, from 3.6 years to over 5 years, thereby eliminating progress made in reducing this differential since 2006,” they added.

This impact is about 10 times as large as the worrisome annual decreases several years ago that were attributed largely to drug overdoses, other external causes, and respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.”

7:29 p.m. ET, January 14, 2021

About half of Virginia residents are now eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine, governor says

From CNN's Kay Jones


Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said Thursday that about half of the commonwealth's residents will now be eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.

Northam said people who are 65 and up will now be prioritized along with the "Phase 1B" group that also includes frontline essential worker groups like police, firefighters, hazmat workers, teachers, and staff at childcare services as well as pre-K through 12th grade, corrections workers, grocery store workers, mail carriers and more. 

The move follows new guidance issued by US Department of Heath and Human Services on Tuesday telling states to expand vaccinations to those 65 and up, as well as those under 64 with a comorbidity.

Northam also said Virginia has distributed 100% of the doses received so far. 

The health department's dashboard shows that 215,101 people have received at least one dose as of today, with a total of 27,429 full vaccinations. The commonwealth has distributed 943,400 doses. 

7:09 p.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Study: Pandemic lockdown may have increased nearsightedness in China

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid

Pandemic lockdowns may have affected kids in a subtle way, Chinese and US researchers reported Thursday. They found a significant rise in nearsightedness among young children in China.

Among children ages 6, 7 and 8, the researchers found that the rate of nearsightedness, or myopia, was higher in 2020 than in any of the past four years.

Nearsightedness rates did not change significantly among children 9-13, even though older children spent more time online, the US and Chinese team reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association- Ophthalmology.

It’s possible home confinement hit at an important time in vision development, where children are more sensitive to environmental changes, the team said.

The researchers analyzed results compiled from in-school vision screenings in Feicheng, China. Due to Covid-19, these vision screenings were conducted in June, after schools were shut down nationwide from January to May 2020.

The greatest increase in nearsightedness was among 6-year-olds, where the prevalence jumped from 5.7% in 2019 to 21.5% in 2020. Nearsightedness doubled among 7-year-olds over previous years, and increased 1.4 times in 8-year-olds.

They connected the increases to home confinement during Covid-19, and the change in screen time and outdoor activities.

“If home confinement is necessary, parents should control the children’s screen time as much as possible and increase the allowable outdoor activity while maintaining safe social distancing,” they wrote.

7:08 p.m. ET, January 14, 2021

A person dies of Covid-19 every six minutes in Los Angeles County

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg and Jessica Firger

Los Angeles County called upon the National Guard to assist with processing of Covid-19 deaths and placing them into temporary storage at the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner Office. The temporary storage will relieve pressure from overwhelmed hospitals and mortuaries who can’t accommodate the deceased.
Los Angeles County called upon the National Guard to assist with processing of Covid-19 deaths and placing them into temporary storage at the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner Office. The temporary storage will relieve pressure from overwhelmed hospitals and mortuaries who can’t accommodate the deceased. Los Angeles County

Over the past seven days, an average of 1,644 people in Los Angeles County have died of Covid-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University (JHU). 

 That’s an average of 235 Covid-19 deaths per day, or one every six minutes.

 Covid-19 deaths in Los Angeles increased about 30% this week compared to last.

Hospital systems in Los Angeles continue to struggle amid a surge in cases, as California is once again an epicenter of the pandemic. Most recent data show California has the second-highest number of new Covid-19 cases per capita, after Arizona.

Los Angeles officials are securing more places to store the bodies of those who died from the virus. About 900 bodies are currently being held at the Los Angeles Medical Examiner Coroner’s Office, which usually has a capacity of 500, according to spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani. She estimates that about 150 of the bodies are overflow from local hospitals that have run out of room.

Since the initial surge last spring, a dozen refrigerated storage units have been on site at the downtown location. A dozen more trailers will be in place by next week, along with six refrigerated containers, Ardalani tells CNN.

8:01 p.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Pandemic drove overdose deaths up, federal health officials say

From CNNs Lauren Mascarenhas

A big jump in overdoses contributed to the deaths of up to 90,000 Americans over the past year, federal health officials said Thursday.

Early data shows a 21% increase in overdose deaths in 2020 and the number could grow, Admiral Brett Giroir, US Health and Human Services assistant secretary told reporters.

After a “flattening” of overdose mortality rates, overdose deaths have been rising since the fall of 2019, Giroir said.

We saw that overdose mortality was going up before the pandemic, but it has actually gone up significantly more since the pandemic,” he said.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows 83,000 overdose deaths in the year ending in June 2020 – a 21% increase from the previous year. He said overdoses due to synthetics opioids, like fentanyl, are up 44.75%.

“If this rate continues, we could see the losses of between 85 and 90,000 Americans in 2020 due to overdoses,” he said.

7:58 p.m. ET, January 14, 2021

Older Hispanic adults have more vaccine confidence than younger ones, says Kaiser Family Foundation data

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

Most Hispanic adults in the United States want to receive a Covid-19 vaccine eventually, but Hispanic adults under 50 are twice as likely to say they will “definitely not get the vaccine,” according to an analysis of Kaiser Family Foundation’s Covid-19 Vaccine Monitor Survey.

Hispanic adults under 50 are also less likely to say that they will “get the vaccine as soon as possible” once one is approved and available. (The surveys were completed by December 8 when coronavirus vaccines were not yet available to the general public.) 

Only 20% of Hispanic adults under 50 reported that they would get the vaccine as soon as possible, compared to 38% of Hispanic adults over age 50.

Almost one-fifth of Hispanic essential workers reported that they would “definitely not” get a vaccine under the circumstances.

According to Kaiser Family Foundation, these numbers suggest a need to increase vaccine trust in younger Hispanic Americans through public health outreach in these communities.