January 24 coronavirus news

By Jenni Marsh, Joshua Berlinger and Rob Picheta, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, January 25, 2021
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3:04 p.m. ET, January 24, 2021

Biden's surgeon general nominee says 100 million vaccine doses goal is a floor, not a ceiling

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Vivek Murthy, President Joe Biden’s nominee for US surgeon general, told ABC that the goal of 100 million doses in the President’s first 100 days in office is “a floor; it’s not a ceiling,” and that the success of vaccine distribution also has to be measured by its equitability. 

Murthy also said the 100 million doses is “a goal that reflects the realities that we face, what could go right, but also what could go wrong.”

He said that the President also understands that the larger goal is that “we’ve got to vaccinate as many Americans as possible."

"And that’s going to take a lot of work, work dispelling misinformation, working on the supply, increasing distribution channels, and that’s some of what the vaccine plan that he announced over the last week is intended to achieve," Murthy added.

When asked if there were ways to get more equitable distribution and increase the supply of the vaccine, Murthy said that “success has to be gauged not just by the number of vaccines we deliver, but also by how fairly we deliver those vaccines, how equitably we deliver them.”

The Covid-19 crisis has already shown that rural communities have a harder time getting access to resources, that communities of color have experienced more cases and deaths and that seniors, especially those in long term care facilities, have struggled, he said.

 

2:12 p.m. ET, January 24, 2021

Biden’s 100 million vaccines goal is not deliberately setting expectations low, Fauci says 

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

A pharmacist fills syringes with the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at UMass Memorial hospital in Marlborough, Massachusetts, on January 12.
A pharmacist fills syringes with the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at UMass Memorial hospital in Marlborough, Massachusetts, on January 12. Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CBS Sunday that it’s “not the case” that President Joe Biden has deliberately set expectations low by saying that he has a goal of giving 100 million coronavirus vaccine doses his first 100 days in office. 

The US had almost reached that pace before Biden took office. According to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published Saturday, more than 20 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine had been administered, which represents a 1.5 million increase from the total reported the day before. 

When looking back at what was done in the first 38 days of vaccine administration under the Trump administration, Fauci said that he believed that maybe two of the days had reached the benchmark of one million shots a day and the average during that period was roughly 450,000 per day. 

“This is hard,” he said. “Now what we’ve got to realize that, although more recently there have been a couple of days were you’ve had a million, that has been predominantly in areas that are relatively easy from the standpoint of getting it done,” for example nursing homes and hospital settings.   

Fauci said that he thinks the goal was reasonable, and that “we always want to do better than the goal you set, but it is really a floor and not a ceiling.”  

12:50 p.m. ET, January 24, 2021

Michigan identifies 3 new UK variant cases of Covid-19

From CNN’s Anna Sturla

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced three new cases of a more transmissible variant of Covid-19 on Sunday, bringing the state's total variant cases to six.

Two of the new cases were adult women associated with the University of Michigan, which already had three cases of the same variant. The remaining case was an adult man from Wayne County, which covers Detroit and Dearborn, according to a news release from the department.

Michigan DHHS ordered the University of Michigan to halt athletics after new variant cases were connected to the program.

The new variant cases in Michigan are all of the B.1.1.7 variant, according to the health department.

That variant was first identified in the United Kingdom, but there are other variants first seen in South Africa and Brazil.

While B.1.1.7 may be more easily passed from person to person, "there has been no indication that it affects the clinical outcomes or disease severity compared to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has been circulating across the United States for months," Michigan DHHS noted in its alert.

12:22 p.m. ET, January 24, 2021

Biden's HHS secretary nominee on long vaccine lines: "That is not America at its best"

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Xavier Becerra, President Joe Biden’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary, on January 24.
Xavier Becerra, President Joe Biden’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary, on January 24. CNN

Xavier Becerra, President Joe Biden’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary, reacted to images of long lines of senior citizens waiting to get Covid-19 vaccines, telling CNN Sunday that it’s "not America, that’s not the way we treat those we consider vulnerable, in need of this vaccine most, that is not America at its best.” 

“What we have to do is show people how it can be done,” Becerra said. “You can’t just tell the states and the local government ‘Here’s some vaccines, now you go do it.’ No, we have to coordinate, we have to provide the resources.” 

Becerra said that many states are suffering massive budget deficits and trying to figure out how to get resources for their overburdened health workers, adding that Biden’s plan provides for 100,000 new health care workers to get out and help all the states. 

“It’s a plan that can work if we all get, you know, put our muscle to it together,” he said. 

Some more context: States had previously submitted plans for vaccine distribution to the CDC in October but had said they needed federal money to carry them out.

In September, Congress had initially set aside $200 million to states for preparedness and planning and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added another $227 million for vaccine distribution in December.

But the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials have said they needed $8.4 billion to administer and conduct vaccine efforts of this scale. Former President Trump signed a massive $2.3 trillion relief bill at the end of December which included $8 billion for vaccine distribution. 

 

12:28 p.m. ET, January 24, 2021

Italy tops 85,000 Covid-19 deaths

From CNN’s Antonia Mortensen

More than 85,000 people have died from Covid-19 in Italy, the first European country to be hit hard by the pandemic, Health Ministry figures show.

The number climbed past 85,000 on Saturday and reached 85,461 on Sunday after 299 new deaths were recorded.

 

12:31 p.m. ET, January 24, 2021

US surpasses 25 million Covid-19 cases

People wait in their cars to get tested for Covid-19 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on January 4.
People wait in their cars to get tested for Covid-19 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on January 4. Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

There have been at least 25,003,695 total cases of coronavirus in the US and at least 417,538 people have died from Covid-19 since the pandemic began, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University

The university recorded the first case of coronavirus in the United States on Jan. 21, 2020.  

  • 97 days later, on April 27, the US hit 1 million cases 
  • 104 days later, on Aug. 9, the US hit 5 million cases 
  • 91 days later, on Nov. 8, the US hit 10 million cases
  • 29 days later, on Dec. 7, the US hit 15 million cases 
  • 24 days later, on Dec. 31, the US hit 20 million cases 
  • 24 days later, on Jan. 24, 2021, the US hit 25 million cases 

There are 17 other countries in the world that have reported more than 1 million total Covid-19 cases, according to the university: 

  • India has over 10 million total cases 
  • Brazil has over 8 million total cases 
  • Russia, the United Kingdom, and France have over 3 million total cases
  • Turkey, Italy, Spain and Germany have over 2 million total cases 
  • Colombia, Argentina, Mexico, South Africa, Poland, Iran, Ukraine, and Peru all have over 1 million total cases each

 

12:24 p.m. ET, January 24, 2021

Changing the course of the pandemic won’t happen overnight, HHS secretary nominee says 

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Xavier Becerra, President Joe Biden’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary, on January 24.
Xavier Becerra, President Joe Biden’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary, on January 24. CNN

Xavier Becerra, President Joe Biden’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary, told CNN Sunday that the US can change the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, but it won’t happen overnight.

On Friday, Biden said “There is nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months.” 

“What I believe President Biden is making very clear, the plane is in a nosedive and we’ve got to pull it up,” Becerra said. “And you’re not going to do that overnight, but we’re going to pull it up, we have to pull it up, failure is not an option here and so we will.” 

Becerra added that the President has put forward not just a plan, but a rescue plan that should be followed by a recovery plan, “but first you got to rescue the people, you got to rescue the economy."

When asked what the timeframe was for changing the course of the pandemic, Becerra again made it clear that it won’t happen overnight. 

“We can do better, we can not only control Covid but get us back to real normality,” he said. “But it takes everybody, all hands on deck, we’ve got to make sure we’re coordinating and we are talking to people.”

11:01 a.m. ET, January 24, 2021

New York state surpasses 34,000 Covid-19 deaths

From CNN's Laura Ly

New York’s Covid-19 positivity rate fell to 5.09% on Sunday, with 12,720 new reported cases, according to new data from New York state.

Total Covid-19 hospitalizations, intensive care unit admissions, and intubations are all down from Saturday’s numbers, the data showed.

There are 160 more New Yorkers who have died due to Covid-19, bringing the state’s overall death toll to 34,069, state data showed.

Currently, health department statistics show that New York’s Long Island and Mid-Hudson regions have the highest positivity rates at 6.99% and 6.85%, respectively. New York City has a rate of 5.58%, with the most cases in the Bronx.

To note: These figures 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. 

11:45 a.m. ET, January 24, 2021

Sen. Bernie Sanders says Democrats will use reconciliation for Covid-19 relief package

From CNN's Daniella Diaz

Sen. Bernie Sanders on January 24.
Sen. Bernie Sanders on January 24. CNN

Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, the incoming chairman of the Senate budget committee, told CNN Sunday morning that Democrats will use budget reconciliation “as soon as we possibly can” to pass a Covid-19 relief package by 51 votes, rather than 60. 

“What we cannot do is wait weeks and weeks and months and months to go forward. We have got to act now,” he said on CNN.

Some more context: Reconciliation was used by the Republicans to pass legislation when Donald Trump was president. 

On the urgency to pass a Covid-19 relief package, Sanders told CNN: “If we do not respond now, yes, I believe two years from now the Republicans will say 'Hey, you elected these guys, they did nothing, vote for us,' and they will win."