Azar says HHS has met hundreds of times with Biden's team
From CNN's Naomi Thomas
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that the department has had hundreds of meetings with the Biden administration and is committed to a seamless transition.
“Changing administrations is no simple task during ordinary times, let alone during a pandemic. We’ve had hundreds of meetings now with President-elect Biden’s team, intent on handing over the reins to the Biden administration in the most seamless way possible,” Azar said during a State of the Department address Tuesday.
Some context: His comments come despite multiple officials familiar with the transition telling CNN they are concerned about the lack of full cooperation transparency from the outgoing administration and believe this has contributed to frustration and concern from Biden’s Covid team about understanding the problems they must confront.
2:14 p.m. ET, January 19, 2021
About 2.5 million US children have tested positive for Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic
From CNN's Jen Christensen
About 2.5 million children in the US have tested positive for Covid-19 as of Jan. 14, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Last week alone, 211,466 new child cases were identified through testing, the report said. That’s an 18% increase in child Covid-19 cases over two weeks. Children represent 12.6% of all cases in the US.
Children made up between 6% and 19% of those who were tested for Covid-19, and 7.3%to 27% of children tested were positive for the coronavirus, depending on the state.
Remember: Children are still considered much less likely than adults to develop severe symptoms of Covid-19 or to die from the disease. Children represented 1.2% to 2.8% of total reported hospitalizations for Covid-19, based on the information provided by 24 states and New York City. Only 0.2% to 3.1% of all cases of Covid-19 in children required hospitalization.
Twelve states reported zero child deaths among the 43 states that provided data on Covid-19 mortality. The states that did report having a fatal case saw no more than 0.06% of deaths in children among all confirmed cases of Covid-19.
2:03 p.m. ET, January 19, 2021
At least 79% of first doses of the vaccine have been administered to New Yorkers
From CNN's Sheena Jones
The state of New York has administered at least 79% of first doses of the coronavirus vaccine received from the federal government, according to a news release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
"This is a major milestone in the fight to defeat COVID-19. Despite the federal government opening up the floodgates of eligibility while decreasing the supply of vaccines, 1 million eligible New Yorkers and all nursing home residents and staff who wanted the vaccine have already been inoculated with the first dose," Cuomo said in the release.
"To build on that momentum, I'm calling on the federal government to do its part and increase supply. We need to continue vaccinating all eligible New Yorkers quickly and equitably, and the more vaccines we have, the more easily we can accomplish that goal and spread immunity," he added.
The state reported at least 12,185 additional cases of Covid-19, according to its Covid-19 dashboard.
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
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
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 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 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
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.