January 25 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton, Zahid Mahmood, Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, January 26, 2021
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11:50 a.m. ET, January 25, 2021

California lifts regional stay-at-home orders

From CNN's Stella Chan

A man walks through the downtown plaza area in Riverside, California, during the stay-at-home order on January 7.
A man walks through the downtown plaza area in Riverside, California, during the stay-at-home order on January 7. Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

“We are turning a critical corner,” California’s top health official said as he announced the state is lifting regional stay-at-home orders. 

The orders applied to Southern California, San Joaquin Valley, and Bay Area regions, encompassing over 90% of the state’s population. The four-week intensive care unit capacity projections for these regions are above 15%, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), the threshold that allows regions to exit the order. 

“Californians heard the urgent message to stay home as much as possible and accepted that challenge to slow the surge and save lives,” Dr. Tomás Aragón, CDPH Director said in a news release. “Together, we changed our activities knowing our short-term sacrifices would lead to longer-term gains. COVID-19 is still here and still deadly, so our work is not over, but it’s important to recognize our collective actions saved lives and we are turning a critical corner.” 

Southern California and San Joaquin Valley regions have been under the state order since Dec. 6 and the Bay area since Dec. 17. The mandate, aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19, instructed residents to stay home as much as possible and not mix with other households. It closed hair salons, museums, movie theaters, and restricted restaurants to take-out only service. 

The other two areas, Northern California and Greater Sacramento, are not currently under the order. The mandate was triggered when intensive care unit capacity in a region falls below 15%. 

Counties not under the regional order will abide by the state’s four-color tiering system:

  • Purple tier signals widespread risk and closes many non-essential indoor businesses. 
  • Red is substantial risk and some non-essential indoor business operation are closed. 
  • Orange is moderate and closes some businesses with modifications.
  • Yellow is minimal risk and allows most indoor businesses to operate with modifications.

The CDPH said the majority of the counties of the San Joaquin Valley, Bay Area, and Southern California regions are in the purple tier, the strictest. Outdoor dining and personal services may resume with modifications required by local jurisdictions.

11:55 a.m. ET, January 25, 2021

UK reports at least 592 new Covid-19 deaths

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

The United Kingdom reported 22,195 new Covid-19 cases and 592 new deaths within 28 days of a positive test on Monday, the government's dashboard showed.

The total number of people in the UK who have died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test now stands at 98,531.

According to the government's data, 6,573,570 people have received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, whilst 470,478 people have received the second dose.

11:39 a.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Mexico expects Russia's Sputnik V vaccine to be delivered soon

From CNN’s Mitchell McCluskey

A nurse shows the Sputnik V vaccine at a clinic in Moscow on December 5, 2020.
A nurse shows the Sputnik V vaccine at a clinic in Moscow on December 5, 2020. Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images

Mexican health officials expect Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine to be delivered in the country “soon,” Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said after a phone call took place between the presidents of both countries on Monday.

After a “cordial and successful” conversation between Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Deputy Health Minister Hugo López Gatell will work with the Russian government to advance the delivery of the vaccine, Ebrard said.

The phone call between President López Obrador and President Vladimir Putin is one of the first scheduled engagements for López Obrador since he tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday.

López Obrador participated in the call from his residence at the presidential palace.

Some background on Russia's Sputnik V:

  • Russia approved its first Covid-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, in August after testing it on several dozen people in a study with great fanfare from state TV.
  • Sputnik V showed more than 90% efficacy in trials, according to its makers at the Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Biology.
  • Preliminary data obtained 42 days after the first dose — 21 days after the second dose — indicates the vaccine’s efficacy could be higher than 95%.  
  • Some experts have accused Russia of cutting corners with its vaccine development for political and PR gain — a claim Moscow has denied.

Read more about Russia's Sputnik V vaccine here

11:23 a.m. ET, January 25, 2021

New York City "urgently" needs more vaccine supply, mayor says

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press conference on Monday morning.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press conference on Monday morning. NYC Media

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said today that over 600,000 vaccines have been administered since the beginning of its effort, though he stressed the city “urgently” needs more supply, and flexibility to vaccinate.

As of now, the city has on hand just over 19,000 first doses remaining, with just over 107,000 expected in resupply this week, he said.

The city can stay on track for second doses, he said, and remains at capacity to vaccinate at 500,000 per week. Appointments continue to be rescheduled.

For context – 628,831 doses have already administered – the number can be compared to more than the entire population of Louisville, Kentucky, the nation’s 29th largest city, the Mayor said to ensure confidence in the effort.

Mega sites like CitiField and Yankee Stadium are “ready to go” he said adding “but we don’t have the vaccine.”

De Blasio noted that he and other mayors spoke with the Biden administration last week specifically about increasing vaccine capacity, noting the administration is “supremely focused” looking for every “conceivable way” to move vaccines quicker. He is “hopeful” they will get answers this week that will “fundamentally” change the reality.

What the numbers look like: New York City added 4,743 new cases of probable and confirmed Covid-19, marking 8.44% positivity, according to the Mayor.

Mayor de Blasio said Monday 240 patients were admitted to hospitals for suspected Covid-19, and the city is reporting at rate of 5.18 individuals hospitalized per 100k people.

“The bottom line on all of this is we need to keep fighting, while we’re getting the vaccination supply we need, we need to keep fighting, use the measures that work.”
11:24 a.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Further cases of UK variant found at German hospital under quarantine after outbreak

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz in London and Claudia Otto in Berlin

A German hospital that was placed under quarantine following an outbreak of the coronavirus variant has registered further cases of the UK variant.

Regional director of the Vivantes Humboldt-Klinikum hospital in Berlin Juergen Kirschbaum said in a press conference that so far 12 patients and 10 staff members had tested positive for the SARS-CoV2 variant of the type B.1.1.7 — the variant that was first identified in the UK — on the internal medicine and cardiology department. 

The increase brings the total number of patients to 63.

In a different Berlin hospital, the Klinikum Spandau, two additional cases were found where patients had contact with the UK variant at the Vivantes Humboldt-Klinikum.

“During the night of Thursday into Friday, the hospital was closed so that no new patients were added. All staffers are being screened,” Juergen Kirschbaum said.

The hospital has been testing all patients since Sunday, it said, as well as immediately isolating patients who show Covid-19 symptoms. Kirschbaum added that while 1,100 staff members have been tested by 12 p.m. CET, not all results have come back yet.

“We assume that this is something that happened at the Humboldt Klinikum, and has not spread out over the entire city,” Patrick Larscheid, head of the local health authority Reinickendorf said.

The facility is expected to provide a further update later on Monday evening Central European Time.

11:25 a.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Dr. Fauci says mixed messaging about coronavirus "really cost us dearly"

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reflected on why the US was hit so badly by the coronavirus: mixed messaging, divisiveness and the federalist approach. 

“We had a situation where instead of concentrating from the top on the science and realizing that we must make decisions based on data and based on evidence, there was a considerable amount of mixed messaging about what needed to be done from the top down,” Fauci said. “And that really cost us dearly.” 

Fauci, who was speaking at a panel during the Davos World Economic Forum on Monday, added, there was “a profound degree of” divisiveness in the country and public health issues — such as mask-wearing – became political statements. “You cannot imagine how destructive that is to any unified public health message.”   

Finally, Fauci spoke about the federalist approach in the US: 50 states and territories which are given a degree of flexibility to do things their own way. 

While he said that under different circumstances this works well, in the pandemic, when the government didn’t want to tell the states what to do, there was a situation where he said that the states were “sort of left on their own,” meaning “we had a disparate, inconsistent response from one state to the other, which is antithetical to the fact that the virus is the same, it doesn’t know the difference between New York and Pennsylvania, between Louisiana and Mississippi, it’s all the same.”

“We needed to have a good cooperation between the federal government and the individual locals, which we did not have,” he said.  

 

10:37 a.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Moderna says its Covid-19 vaccine is expected to protect against new variants 

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen

 

Stephanie Lecocq/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Stephanie Lecocq/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

The Moderna Covid-19 vaccine created antibodies that neutralized coronavirus variants first found in the United Kingdom and South Africa, the company said in a news release on Monday.

Two doses of the vaccine “is expected to be protective against emerging strains detected to date,” according to the release.   

The company’s study showed that the variant first found in the UK had “no significant impact” on the vaccine’s effectiveness.  

The results for the variant first spotted in South Africa, however, were not as optimistic — and some early studies have suggested vaccines may be somewhat less effective against this strain.

In the press release, Moderna noted that “a six-fold reduction in neutralizing titers was observed with (the variant discovered in South Africa) relative to prior variants.”  

The company said the vaccine was still expected to be effective.  

“Despite this reduction, neutralizing titer levels with (the variant discovered in South Africa) remain above levels that are expected to be protective,” according to the press release.   

David Montefiori, a virologist at Duke University Medical Center, said while he’s “cautiously optimistic” Moderna’s vaccine will work well against this strain, he’s still not sure.  

“The efficacy might be reduced somewhat, but it may still be very effective,” he said. “Hopefully the vaccine will still be 70-80% effective.” 

The variant first identified in the UK has also appeared in more than 45 other countries, including 195 cases in the US.   

The variant first identified in South Africa has appeared in more than 20 other countries. No cases have been identified in the US, but experts say it’s likely there are cases and US surveillance, which has been widely criticized, has not yet found them.

9:25 a.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Fauci says reinstating travel restrictions is a "prudent decision"

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Biden’s chief medical adviser, said on Good Morning America on Monday that it was a “prudent decision” for the new administration to reinstate travel restrictions.

He said that he thinks the travel ban will be important “in addition to having a situation where anybody coming into the country now is going to be required to have a negative test before they even get on the plane, when they land to have a degree of quarantine, as well as another test.” 

“I believe it was prudent, even though it’s never perfect, there’s always a possibility, and even a likelihood of some slippage, but I think the ban, which was discussed very intensively by the group, was the right decision,” Fauci said. 

Some context: On Sunday, CNN reported that Biden would reinstate Covid travel restrictions on non-US citizens who have been in Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom and much of Europe. The restrictions were also extended to travelers who have recently been in South Africa. The reinstating of the travel restrictions came one week after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that would have lifted them on Jan. 26.  

9:10 a.m. ET, January 25, 2021

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson considers hotel quarantines as pressure to reopen schools grows

From CNN’s Sharon Braithwaite

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson attends a coronavirus press conference in London on January 22.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson attends a coronavirus press conference in London on January 22. Leon Neal/Getty Images

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the idea of quarantining people arriving into the country in hotels for 10 days as a Covid-19 measure is “definitely” being “looked at.”

We want to make sure that we protect our population, protect this country against reinfection from abroad. That idea of looking at hotels is certainly one thing we're actively now working on,” Johnson said at a vaccination center in North London on Monday.

The Prime Minister suggested that more must be done to protect people with the threat of new variants spreading from other countries saying we have "got to be able to keep that under control."

As coronavirus infections and death rates soar across the country, schools in England have been closed to most pupils since a third national lockdown began on January 5, as well as large sections of 2020. Now pressure is building on the British government to reopen them.

On Monday, Johnson said people “mustn’t assume” that schools will be closed until Easter, following recent media reports, warning decisions are dependent on Covid-19 infection rates.

He said parents and teachers will be told of any decisions “as soon as we can” but the government is not yet able to give a timeframe for when pupils will return to classrooms.

We're going to be looking at where we've got to on the 15th of February… we hope to have vaccinated about 15 million people across the whole of the UK... the real priority groups. We will be deciding before then, whether we can be getting schools back,” Johnson said.