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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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."

11:02 a.m. ET, January 24, 2021

New coronavirus model predicts 569,000 total Covid-19 deaths in the US by May 

From CNN's Nadia Kounang

Funeral director Steven Correa moves the casket of someone said to have died from Covid-19 in preparation for burial at Continental Funeral Home in East Los Angeles, California, on December 31, 2020.
Funeral director Steven Correa moves the casket of someone said to have died from Covid-19 in preparation for burial at Continental Funeral Home in East Los Angeles, California, on December 31, 2020. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

The influential coronavirus model at the University of Washington is projecting 569,000 Americans will have died from Covid-19 by May 1.

This a slight increase since its last update, which projected 567,000 deaths by the same date. 

The model from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) projected that by May 1, “42,800 lives will be saved by the projected vaccine rollout.” 

The model expected 157 million people to be vaccinated by that time which translates to 36% of the country being immunized, assuming the vaccines are at least 50% effective. 

More details: The forecasters note that overall, just half of the country is willing to accept the vaccine.

“In the US, 50.8% of people say they would accept a vaccine for Covid-19 and 25.5% say they are unsure if they would accept one," the model said.

However, the modelers also note that they do not expect the US to reach a high enough level of herd immunity to prevent a third wave next winter, “because a quarter of Americans state they will not take the vaccine and a further quarter state they are unsure.” 

The forecasts also do not take into account the potential spread of the new variants first identified in the UK and South Africa, “which could extend the fall/winter surge into late spring if they spread in the US.” 

10:15 a.m. ET, January 24, 2021

Biden's chief of staff says Trump vaccine plan beyond nursing homes and hospitals "did not really exist"

From CNN's Allie Malloy and Jasmine Wright

Ron Klain testifies in Washington, DC, on March 10, 2020.
Ron Klain testifies in Washington, DC, on March 10, 2020. Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain appeared on "Meet the Press" this morning and defended statements by the White House that there was no plan in place for vaccine distribution when the Biden administration walked in the door.

Klain said that outside of nursing homes and hospitals, a plan for “the community as a whole did not really exist.”  

Klain was asked about the differing comments from the White House on there not being a plan in place on vaccine distribution, which Dr. Anthony Fauci disputed this week.

“I think those two statements actually reconcile more than you might think, I think what Dr. Fauci is saying is of course a year of really amazing scientific breakthrough and discovery, created this vaccine in record time and we have seen the initial wave of vaccinations take place…But the process to distribute the vaccine, particularly outside of nursing homes and hospitals, out into the community as a whole did not really exist when we came into the White house. As everyone in America has seen, the way in which people get vaccine is chaotic, it’s very limited,” Klain told NBC. 

Klain also stressed that the administration will “own” the vaccine problem going forward, unlike the administration before them.  

When asked where the problem lies, Klain said, "We need more vaccine, we need more vaccinators and we need more vaccine sites." 

Klain, speaking about the administration’s goal of 100 vaccines in its first 100 days, said it is “still a very bold and ambitious goal.”  

“Obviously we’re not going to stop there. 100 million people- 100 million shots is an ambitious goal but we need to keep going after that so. That is our goal. That is our first goal. It’s not our final goal. It’s not the endpoint. It’s just a metric that the American people can watch and measure how we’re doing,” Klain added. 

9:24 a.m. ET, January 24, 2021

Police break up illegal rave of more than 300 people in east London

From CNN's Rob Picheta

Police attend the event in east London early on Sunday morning.
Police attend the event in east London early on Sunday morning.

Police in the United Kingdom broke up a rave that saw more than 300 people packed under a railway arch in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Officers arrived at the party in Hackney, east London, at 1:30 a.m. local time, and said they have issued more than £15,000 ($20,500) to revelers for breaching the UK's lockdown policy.

The Metropolitan Police said "numerous attempts were made to engage with organisers and others but they were uncooperative." The doors to the building were padlocked from the inside to stop police getting in, they added.

The UK has been under a strict lockdown since earlier this month, with indoor gatherings banned.

Officers stopped 78 people and issued £200 fines at the event.

"Officers were forced, yet again, to put their own health at risk to deal with a large group of incredibly selfish people who were tightly packed together in a confined space - providing an ideal opportunity for this deadly virus to spread," Chief Superintendent Roy Smith said in a statement. "Our frontline officers continue to police this public health crisis with compassion & professionalism but it is completely unacceptable they have to face such needless risks to their own health and to their families too."

8:21 a.m. ET, January 24, 2021

Iran adds to its case count as it battles the Middle East's worst outbreak

From CNN’s Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran

Health care staff at a hospital in Tehran, Iran, tend to a Covid-19 patient in the intensive care unit on December 20, 2020.
Health care staff at a hospital in Tehran, Iran, tend to a Covid-19 patient in the intensive care unit on December 20, 2020. Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Iran reported 5,945 new daily coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the country's total number of cases to 1,372,977.

The new numbers were announced by Iran’s Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadaat Lari in a news conference on state TV.

The country reported 89 new deaths from Covid-19 bringing it death toll to 57,383.

The health ministry said 4,090 patients are currently hospitalized in ICU.

Iran is the Middle East country hardest hit by the pandemic in terms of both total cases and deaths, though both have fallen from record highs at the end of 2020. The country is keeping restrictions in place to bring the case tally under control.

6:58 a.m. ET, January 24, 2021

US nears 25 million cases, and registers at least 417,399 deaths

According to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases in the United States, there have been at least 24,991,748 cases of coronavirus in the U.S.; at least 417,399 people have died in the U.S. from coronavirus. 

On Saturday, Johns Hopkins University reported 169,935 new cases and 3,292 new deaths. 

At least 41,411,550 vaccine doses have been distributed and at least 20,537,990 doses of the vaccine have been administered, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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

6:12 a.m. ET, January 24, 2021

England a "long way" from easing virus lockdown, Health Minister says

From CNN’s Arnaud Siad in London

England is a “long, long, long way” from easing lockdown restrictions given the “enormous” pressure on the National Health Service (NHS), British Health Minister Matt Hancock said on Sunday.

Speaking on Sky News, Hancock said: “There is early evidence that the lockdown is starting to bring cases down. But we're a long, long, long way from that from being low enough because the case rate was incredibly high and you can see the pressure on the NHS. You can see it every day.” 

Pressed to comment on whether the United Kingdom would need a blanket ban on people traveling to the country amid fears of new variants, Hancock said: “We’ve got to have a precautionary principle. We’ve introduced pre-departure testing and we’ve also introduced checks on everybody to check that that’s happened and that the passenger locator form is completed.

"But it is absolutely vital that we protect this country from a new variant that may not be as well dealt with by the vaccine. We cannot risk the progress that we have made.”

Separately, England’s deputy chief medical officer urged people who have already been vaccinated to continue following social-distancing rules. 

“Even after you have had both doses of the vaccine you may still give Covid-19 to someone else and the chains of transmission will then continue,” Jonathan Van-Tam wrote in the Sunday Telegraph. “If you change your behaviour you could still be spreading the virus, keeping the number of cases high and putting others at risk who also need their vaccine but are further down the queue.”

Health Secretary Hancock praised the country’s vaccine rollout, saying that more than three-quarters of over-80s have been vaccinated, and a similar number in care homes.

“We have vaccinated more people in just the last three days than France for instance has in the entire history of this disease,” he added.

"The good news is that there are early signs that certainly the rise in the number of cases has been halted and in many parts of the country cases are starting to come down," he added later on while speaking to the BBC.

The United Kingdom has had at least 97,329 deaths related to Covid-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, giving it one of the highest per capita death rates in the world.