January 15 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:57 a.m. ET, January 16, 2021
10 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
2:11 a.m. ET, January 15, 2021

US reports more than 229,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Joe Sutton in Atlanta

The United States reported 229,386 new coronavirus cases and 3,769 additional deaths on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.

JHU's Covid-19 dashboard shows the nationwide totals now stand at 23,307,461 confirmed infections and 388,540 fatalities.

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

Vaccines: At least 30,628,175 vaccine doses have been distributed and at least 11,148,991 shots administered across the US, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Track the US cases:

2:07 a.m. ET, January 15, 2021

Germany becomes 10th country to surpass 2 million Covid-19 cases 

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin and AnneClaire Stapleton

A pharmacist takes a swab from a woman at a coronavirus testing station at the Brunnen pharmacy in North Rhine-Westphalia, Wipperfürth, Germany, on January 14.
A pharmacist takes a swab from a woman at a coronavirus testing station at the Brunnen pharmacy in North Rhine-Westphalia, Wipperfürth, Germany, on January 14. Oliver Berg/picture alliance/Getty Images

Germany has now reported more than 2 million coronavirus cases, becoming the 10th country to do so, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The country reported 22,368 new infections in the past day, bringing the total number of infections to 2,000,958, the country's disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said Friday.  

The country also reported 1,113 new fatalities related to Covid-19, raising the overall death toll to 44,994, according to RKI data.  

The number of coronavirus deaths in Germany is "very worrying,'' RKI head Lothar Wieler said Thursday.
New coronavirus infections ''must reduce massively,'' Wieler told journalists in Berlin, adding that ''intensive care units have never been as exhausted as in recent days.” 

Ten of Germany's 16 federal states have now reached 85% capacity in their intensive care units, Wieler warned. 

The RKI chief said the current lockdown in place is "not as effective as in spring." He called on German citizens to ''stay at home whenever possible," and urged employers to allow employees to work from home during the pandemic. 

Germany has vaccinated more than 842,000 people, about 1% of its population, according to RKI data.

1:35 a.m. ET, January 15, 2021

Number of new skyscrapers drops 20% amid pandemic slowdown

From CNN's Oscar Holland

Shimao Qianhai Center in Shenzhen, China.
Shimao Qianhai Center in Shenzhen, China. Courtesy of Gensler

The number of new skyscrapers built globally dropped more than 20% in 2020, according to data released this week by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH).

Last year saw the completion of 106 new buildings measuring 200 meters (656 feet) or above, down from 133 in 2019 -- and the lowest total since 2014.

The CTBUH largely attributed the slowdown to Covid-19, as projects around the world "ground to a halt" amid restrictions on assembly, said its annual report. Though the group was only able to find nine projects directly blaming delays on the pandemic, it assumed that "many more" had "encountered difficulties" as a consequence.

China, which traditionally dominates global high-rise construction, experienced another comparatively slow year. Its annual total of 56 new 200-meter-plus buildings was down only one from 2019, though this follows a drop of almost 40% the year prior.

Read the full story:

1:00 a.m. ET, January 15, 2021

HHS secretary praises insight of CDC official who was muzzled for months

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks during a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on November 19, 2020.
US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks during a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on November 19, 2020. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

United States Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has praised the insight of a top Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official who was muzzled for months as the coronavirus pandemic raged. 

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, who heads the CDC’s respiratory diseases branch and who has for years been a regular, trusted voice for reporters covering the center, disappeared from public view after she warned about the potential spread of coronavirus in February.

Sources have told CNN and others it was because her frank and truthful statements upset President Donald Trump.

But in his remarks summing up the pandemic to the conservative Heritage Foundation Thursday, Azar claimed he valued Messonnier’s advice and knowledge and said it showed HHS followed science in what the American public was told about the virus.

Azar also indicated he followed the advice of CDC chief Dr. Robert Redfield, who continued to appear in public, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He also claimed to value the counsel of CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat, another official who disappeared from public view for months on end.

"As the virus spread around the world, and began to take a foothold here in the United States, we were clear with the American people about what we knew as soon as we knew it," Azar said. "Throughout January and February, there was no immediate threat to the general American public. But, as Dr. Messonnier said on January 31, we were, quote, 'preparing as if this were the next pandemic but hopefully, still that is not and will not be the case.'”

At the time, Azar was telling the public that coronavirus, which has now killed more than 388,000 Americans, was no serious threat.

On Thursday, Azar went on to praise Messonnier for giving warnings he did not give.

“We may remember that on February 25 in the daily CDC telebriefing. Dr. Nancy Messonnier noted that community mitigation measures were in our future, and would include steps like school closures,” Azar said. “Certainly the stock market took notice. This was exactly what the taskforce had determined on February 21, but she got a little ahead of the briefing of the President and the official announcement. But she and we were correct.”

1:16 a.m. ET, January 15, 2021

"Biggest vaccination site" in the US set to open at Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium

From CNN's Sarah Moon

A general view of Dodger Stadium is seen in Los Angeles, on November 18, 2020.
A general view of Dodger Stadium is seen in Los Angeles, on November 18, 2020. AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

The Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles will launch as a mass vaccination site starting Friday morning, the city's Mayor Eric Garcetti announced at a news conference Thursday.

The site, which the mayor referred to as the “biggest vaccination site in the country,” will have the capacity to vaccinate 12,000 people each day. A whole workforce has been deployed to administer the vaccines, according to Garcetti.

“This vaccine is safe, this vaccine is safe,” he repeatedly emphasized, as he urged residents to get the vaccine once they are eligible.
“It’s your civic duty when it’s your turn to get that vaccine. It’s an act of love for your fellow citizen because it’s going to save someone’s life or many people’s lives, and it’s a forward step to reopening our schools and our economy.”

Who can get the vaccine: In Los Angeles County, the vaccine is currently only available to healthcare workers and seniors living in senior homes and skilled nursing facilities. While the county has approximately 1 million healthcare workers, Garcetti said about half of them have not yet received the vaccine. 

“The bottom line is, we don’t have enough vaccines,” Garcetti said.

He also said that some sites may be reserving their allocation of vaccines to administer the second dose for their healthcare workers.

With the opening of Dodger Stadium and five additional vaccination sites from the county, Garcetti said he expects hundreds of thousands to be vaccinated each week.

What's going on in Los Angeles County: The county has a reported a total of 975,299 coronavirus cases and 13,234 deaths.

Hospitalizations in the county continue to overwhelm hospitals and healthcare workers, and there are currently 7,906 people being treated in the hospital with coronavirus -- 21% of them in the intensive care unit. 

Garcetti said that while there are early signs showing that hospitalizations in the county may be stabilizing, it is not “even close to being out of the woods.”

1:09 a.m. ET, January 15, 2021

Brazil's health minister says healthcare collapsing in Amazonian city, hospitals full

From CNN's Taylor Barnes

Brazil's Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello speaks during the launching ceremony of the National Vaccination Operationalization Plan against Covid-19 at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, on December 16, 2020.
Brazil's Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello speaks during the launching ceremony of the National Vaccination Operationalization Plan against Covid-19 at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, on December 16, 2020. Andre Borges/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Brazilian Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said that the healthcare system in the hard-hit Amazonian city of Manaus is in “collapse” during a Facebook live broadcast with President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday.

“I would say, yes, there is a collapse in healthcare in Manaus. The line to get a hospital bed has grown a lot, today we have about 480 people waiting in line. And the reality is that there is a lower supply of oxygen -- not an interruption, but a lower supply of oxygen,” he said.

Pazuello also said Brazil -- which has yet to commence a vaccination campaign even though its Covid-19 death toll is the second highest in the world, behind only the United States -- will begin to vaccinate people in January, though he did not specify a date.

“In January we will start vaccinating. In the beginning with 2, 6, or 8 million doses. … And in February, we will have mass production, and our National Vaccination Program, which we’ve been doing for 45 years, will get ahead of everyone in the whole world, including the United States.”

The Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (ANVISA) will meet on Sunday, Jan. 17 to decide whether to give emergency approvals to the Oxford/AstraZeneca and the Sinovac vaccine, according to state-run news agency Agencia Brasil.

Venezuela offers to send oxygen: Venezuela has offered to send oxygen tanks to Amazonas state, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said Thursday. Arreaza said on Twitter that he made the offer during a call with Amazonas Gov. Wilson Lima, and added: “Latin American solidarity above all!”

1:10 a.m. ET, January 15, 2021

Biden proposes $1.9 trillion vaccination and economic rescue legislative package

From CNN's Kate Sullivan and Eric Bradner

President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday evening outlined a $1.9 trillion emergency legislative package to fund a nationwide vaccination effort and provide direct economic relief to Americans amid the coronavirus pandemic, telling Americans that "the health of our nation is at stake."

"There is real pain overwhelming the real economy -- one where people rely on paychecks, not their investments, to pay for their bills and their meals and their children's needs," Biden said in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, in which he took aim at the nation's searing income inequality.

He did not detail how he plans to move his massive proposal through a Congress where Democrats will have narrow House and Senate majorities, though both congressional Democratic leaders pledged to shepherd Biden's vision into law.

Instead, Biden spoke about the economic and health threat of the pandemic, calling them "once-in-several-generations" crises, and cast delivering economic relief and rapidly vaccinating Americans as urgent challenges.

"In this pandemic in America, we cannot let people go hungry. We cannot let people get evicted. We cannot let nurses, educators and others lose their jobs when we so badly need them. We must act now and act decisively," Biden said.

The American Rescue Plan will include allocating more than $400 billion toward addressing the Covid-19 pandemic, including $160 billion in funding to execute a national vaccination program, expand testing and mobilize a public health jobs program, among other measures.

His proposal includes $1,400 stimulus checks for Americans and extending and expanding unemployment benefits, including a $400 weekly unemployment insurance supplement, through September.

Read more about the package:

7:50 p.m. ET, January 14, 2021

UK bans arrivals from several Latin American countries due to Brazilian virus variant

From CNN's Schams Elwazer in London

The UK has decided to ban arrivals from multiple Latin American countries “following evidence of a new variant in Brazil,” British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Thursday on Twitter. 

Starting Friday at 4 a.m. local time, arrivals to the UK will be banned from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela. 

“Travel from Portugal to the UK will also be suspended given its strong travel links with Brazil -- acting as another way to reduce the risk of importing infections,” Shapps said, adding that hauliers transporting essential goods were exempt. 

He added that these measures would not apply to British and Irish citizens and other nationals who have UK residence rights, but arriving passengers would have to quarantine for 10 days.

All parts of the UK are currently under strict lockdown with international travel only allowed for a limited number of reasons. The country is in the midst of its worst wave of Covid-19 infections with record daily deaths reported on Wednesday.

7:49 p.m. ET, January 14, 2021

More than 20,000 Chinese villagers moved to quarantine sites as a preventative measure

From CNN's Carly Walsh in Hong Kong and CNN's Beijing bureau

More than 20,000 citizens from 12 villages in the Gaocheng District of the Chinese city of Shijiazhuang have been relocated to quarantine sites as a preventative measure against Covid-19, according to Chinese state media.

State broadcaster CGTN cited China's National Health Commission (NHC) official Tong Zhaohui saying the new quarantine sites aim to avoid new infections emerging from contact between people with and without the virus.

Hebei Province, of which Shijiazhuang is the capital, has been at the center of China’s most recent outbreak of the pandemic.

The NHC reported 138 new Covid-19 infections on Wednesday, including 14 imported cases. Of the 124 locally transmitted cases, 81 cases are from Hebei province.

Hebei’s vice governor Xu Jianpei announced on Tuesday that a second round of mass testing programs would begin in the cities of Shijiazhuang, Xingtai and Langfang. The province’s first round of testing of 17 million people ended on Sunday.

Construction has also started on a centralized medical center in Shijiazhuang. It’s set to cover 33 hectares and will have 3,000 makeshift wards, CGTN reported.

On Wednesday one person was reported to have died from the virus in Hebei province, the first fatality in China for 242 days.