January 19 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Sharon Braithwaite and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021
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1:54 p.m. ET, January 19, 2021

Fauci says it "has not been an easy thing" to have to contradict Trump on scientific facts 

From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks at the National Institutes of Health on December 22, 2020, in Bethesda, Maryland.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks at the National Institutes of Health on December 22, 2020, in Bethesda, Maryland. Patrick Semansky/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

It hasn’t been easy to stand by facts and science while working under President Trump, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday.

“It's not a happy day when you have to get up in front of national TV and contradict” what the President says, Fauci said in an interview hosted by the Harvard Business Review. “I take no pleasure in that at all.”

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he made a commitment to tell the truth, no matter what administration he works for. He has served under six presidents.

“It's been particularly problematic here because that would often put me in direct conflict – not emotional conflict, but factual conflict – with what the President might say, so obviously that that has not been an easy thing to do," he said.

1:28 p.m. ET, January 19, 2021

The Americas reported more than 2.5 million new Covid-19 cases last week

From CNN’s Claudia Rebaza

The Americas region reported more than 2.5 million new Covid-19 cases last week, more than half of all global infections, Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) Director Carissa Etienne said during a virtual news conference on Tuesday.

The PAHO director warned reporters that her concern for the next few weeks in the region where hospitals and health systems are already struggling. 

“Throughout our region, especially in North and South America, many hospitals are operating at a very close to capacity,” Etienne said.

“The reports from Manaus in Brazil, illustrate what happens when a health system lacks enough capacity to cope with the speed of new infections. But it is not just Manaus that is at risk, we've had reports of oxygen being rationed in some locations in the United States of America and in Peru,” Etienne explained. 

The PAHO director said the intensive care unit occupancy rate stands at 90% in some parts of Peru, while several areas in Brazil and Ecuador are operating close to their capacity.

“In Mexico City, the majority of beds are occupied by Covid-19 patients and hospital capacity continues to be challenged in countries of the southern cone like Chile, Argentina and Uruguay," Etienne added.

Etienne also told reporters that the new Covid-19 variants detected in the UK, South Africa and Brazil “are also concerning as they may be playing a role in accelerating new infections” in the region.

The PAHO director urged the region’s leadership to keep stressing preventive Covid-19 measures in their countries despite the vaccine roll out in some of them.

“Currently, the doses available for use are very limited and will remain in short supply everywhere. As manufacturers raise to meet global demand over the next few months,” Etienne told reporters. 

“There are nearly a billion people to immunize in our region," she added. 

The PAHO’s assistant director, Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, said his organization expects to distribute 20 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines during March throughout the region via the Covax program.

Covax is coordinated by the World Health Organization, global vaccines initiative Gavi and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

1:31 p.m. ET, January 19, 2021

Pennsylvania widens Covid-19 vaccine eligibility

From CNN's Sheena Jones

A syringe is filled with a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Berks Community Health Center in Reading, Pennsylvania, on January 6.
A syringe is filled with a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Berks Community Health Center in Reading, Pennsylvania, on January 6. Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle/Getty Images

Pennsylvania is loosening its Covid-19 vaccination requirements under Phase 1A, the state department of health announced Tuesday. 

Effective Tuesday, anyone over the age of 65 and those aged 16 to 64 with "serious medical conditions that make them more at risk for severe illness" can take the vaccine. 

Some of those conditions include cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and severe obesity, according to the state’s vaccine rollout plan. Pennsylvania is still currently in Phase 1A. 

The wider vaccination eligibility comes as the health department reported 5,341 new Covid-19 cases and 77 virus-related deaths. That brings the statewide cumulative totals to 777,186 and 19,467, respectively. 

So far, 477,929 vaccine doses have been administered, according to the health department. 

Earlier Tuesday, President-elect Joe Biden tapped the state’s health secretary, Rachel Levine, to serve as assistant health secretary at the Department of Health and Human-Services. If confirmed, Levine would be the first openly transgender federal official confirmed by the US Senate. 

Note: These numbers were released by the state’s health agency, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project. 

1:06 p.m. ET, January 19, 2021

West Virginia governor to states that have vaccines they cannot administer: "We'll take the crumbs"

From CNN’s Amanda Watts 

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice speaks during a press conference on January 19.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice speaks during a press conference on January 19. West Virginia Governor's Office

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is encouraging residents to call lawmakers and urge them to send more vaccines to his state.  

“Here's what I want you to say, I want you to say, ‘We need your help, we're the oldest and most chronically ill state, we have got to get bumped up,” Justice said during a Tuesday news conference. “We need you. We need you right now, to push in every way we possibly can, to get more vaccines in West Virginia and we’ll get them in somebody’s arm.” 

Justice said he hates to say it, but “with some of these states, they're not going to get it done. They're not. They're going to stumble around just like they have been and hide behind something and give some political gobbly goop and everything,” he said. 

“But if West Virginia could just get the crumbs, that they're missing or they're just throwing off their plate, we’ll take the crumbs, too. We deserve the meat and potatoes, but we'll take the crumbs,” he said. 

He added: “We'll take the crumbs and get more and more people vaccinated.” 

11:43 a.m. ET, January 19, 2021

Scotland extends its lockdown until at least mid-February

From CNN's Sarah Dean

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks during a session at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh, on January 19,
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks during a session at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh, on January 19, Russell Cheyne/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced the country will remain in lockdown until at least mid-February.

Sturgeon, speaking during a briefing at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, said the current "level 4" restrictions, which include the closure of schools and nurseries, would be reviewed on Feb. 2. At that point a phased return to schools may be outlined although she warned it was too soon to say how or when.

Although overall Covid-19 cases are declining in the country, they remain at a high level, with 30% more people in hospitals now than in the peak in April last year and there's been a 90% increase in intensive care unit cases from Jan. 1.

Scotland recorded 1,165 new cases in the past 24 hours, which is a decrease of 264 from the previous day. 

At least 1,989 coronavirus patients are currently in hospital, 150 in intensive care unit, with 71 deaths reported in the last 24 hour period.

11:23 a.m. ET, January 19, 2021

New York City expected to run out of vaccines by Thursday, Mayor says

From CNN's Sheena Jones

Health workers wait for patients to administer Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines at the opening of a new vaccination site at Corsi Houses in Harlem, New York on January 15, 2021. 
Health workers wait for patients to administer Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines at the opening of a new vaccination site at Corsi Houses in Harlem, New York on January 15, 2021.  Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

New York City is set to run out of vaccines by Thursday if the state doesn’t receive more doses, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday. 

The mayor added as the city is vaccinating people "faster and faster," the city needs more doses. 

At least 455,737 people have been vaccinated across New York City, de Blasio said. 

New York has 92,000 doses left from the "first doses" received, and officials are expecting another 53,000 doses coming in today, de Blasio said. 

"If we don’t get more vaccine quickly we will have to cancel appointments," de Blasio said. 

"Get us the vaccine," de Blasio added.

10:34 a.m. ET, January 19, 2021

Head of Italian Medicines Agency expresses "grave concern" over Pfizer vaccine delays

From CNN's Valentina Di Donato in Rome

A resident of the Anni Azzurri elderly care home in Rome receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as part of the coronavirus vaccination campaign by healthcare workers of Asl Roma 1 on January 8, 2021. 
A resident of the Anni Azzurri elderly care home in Rome receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as part of the coronavirus vaccination campaign by healthcare workers of Asl Roma 1 on January 8, 2021.  Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

The director general of the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) Nicola Magrini expressed "grave concern" over delays of the Pfizer vaccine.

“The Pfizer delay is of grave concern. It was all communicated at the last minute, if it's just a week's delay the consequences may not be so serious," Magrini said Tuesday on Italian radio station 'Radio Capital'.

"We can define it as a small slowdown,” Magrini added.

AIFA's President Giorgio Palù told CNN that the agency doesn’t directly purchase the vaccine as that falls in the remit of the Health Ministry and the extraordinarily-appointed Italian Covid-19 Commissioner. “AIFA doesn’t work on supply and distribution, we can only say we hope more vaccines arrive,” Palu said.

Some background: Last week, Pfizer announced shipments from its vaccine facility in Puurs, Belgium, would be temporarily reduced as it scales up to produce two billion Covid-19 vaccine doses in 2021. 

The pharmaceutical company announced Friday that they will resume their original schedule to deliver the coronavirus vaccines to the European Union, starting the week of Jan. 25.

10:30 a.m. ET, January 19, 2021

Biden adviser says variants could turn the pandemic into a situation "unlike anything we’ve seen yet"

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Michael Osterholm, a coronavirus adviser to President-elect Joe Biden and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said on CNN’s New Day Tuesday, that he worries that in the coming weeks, the coronavirus pandemic will turn into something unlike anything seen before, and most people don’t realize that yet. 

“We’re going to suddenly see these variants come to play that based on the experience we’ve seen in Europe, in particular, South Africa, these variants can substantially increase the number of cases,” Osterholm said.

“I worry desperately in the next six to 12 weeks we’re going to see a situation with this pandemic unlike anything we’ve seen yet to date,” Osterholm said. “And that is really a challenge that I don’t think most people realize yet.”  

When asked by CNN’s Alisyn Camerota if there was anything that the Biden administration could do to prevent this, Osterholm said the first step is “to get people to understand: This will happen, we are going to see a major increase in cases, the challenge is how many.” 

Secondly, he said “we can’t make the vaccine go much faster than it is right now,” adding that while he knows the Biden administration will do everything it can to move vaccine out, other actions are needed now.

“The difference is going to be, are we going to react now or later,” Osterholm said. Like other places, he said that the US will take “dramatic steps” to deal with the variants, but “the question is how soon will we do it? Do we put the brakes on after the cars wrapped around the tree, or we try to put the brakes on before we leave the intersection?” 

“That’s the challenge,” he said. “I just don’t know if we’re really prepared to even have that discussion yet.” 

10:01 a.m. ET, January 19, 2021

US should stay focused on preventing Covid-19 cases, not changing travel restrictions, Biden adviser says 

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

Travelers wait in line to check in for a flight at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) amid a COVID-19 surge in Southern California on December 22, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. 
Travelers wait in line to check in for a flight at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) amid a COVID-19 surge in Southern California on December 22, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.  Mario Tama/Getty Images

Michael Osterholm, a coronavirus adviser to President-elect Joe Biden and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said on CNN’s New Day Tuesday the focus needs to stay on preventing Covid-19 cases in the United States – and he wouldn’t change any current coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

“At this point, I wouldn’t change anything that we’re talking about in terms of restrictions, let’s take a look at them and see what’s really meaningful,” Osterholm said, following a move by President Donald Trump to lift coronavirus-related travel restrictions imposed on Brazil and parts of Europe.

Osterholm said that the focus has to stay on preventing cases linked to currently high rates of new cases and hospitalizations.

“Keep our eyes focused on the ball, which is what’s happening right here in the United States now,” he said.

Some background: On Monday, the White House released text of a new executive order by Trump that would lift coronavirus-related travel restrictions imposed on Brazil and much of Europe starting on Jan. 26. 

However, the incoming Biden administration said that the order would not be implemented, with incoming press secretary Jen Psaki tweeting, “with the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel.”

Psaki added, “On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26. In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of Covid-19.”