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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6:50 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

About 6% of the US population has received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN’s Deidre McPhillips

Chief clinical officer John Corman MD at Virginia Mason administers a dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at the Amazon Meeting Center in downtown Seattle, Washington on January 24.
Chief clinical officer John Corman MD at Virginia Mason administers a dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at the Amazon Meeting Center in downtown Seattle, Washington on January 24. Grant Hindsley/AFP/Getty Images

More than 22.7 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the US, according to data published Monday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Nearly 6% of the US population – more than 19 million people – has received at least one dose of the vaccine, and about 3.3 million people are fully vaccinated. 

In Alaska, about 11% of the population has received at least one dose, followed by West Virginia where more than 9% of the population has received at least one dose, the data shows.

Nationwide, about 55% of the 41.4 million distributed doses have been administered.

States have 72 hours to report vaccine data, so data published by the CDC may be delayed – and may not necessarily mean all doses were given on the day reported.

6:44 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

It's important to prove that vaccines protect against new Covid-19 strains, Moderna president says

From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas

As Covid-19 continues to evolve, it’s important to prove that vaccines provide protection against new strains, Moderna President Dr. Stephen Hoge said Monday.

“The virus is evolving,” Hoge said during a panel hosted by investment institute iConnections. “It's not sitting still.”

He said that the emergence of new strains will “change the calculus” of vaccines.

“I think as we look at the efficacy of any of these vaccines, we should hope and assume that they're going to work across them, but we need to prove that case, time and time again,” Hoge said.

“Now, usually, probably just with measuring the vaccine’s ability to provide neutralizing antibodies in the blood, but in some cases over time we may need to go look at whether or not we're actually protecting in the real world against some of these new strains,” he added. 

Hoge said this process could continue for years.

“Until we've got this thing sort of fully suppressed and in control, and people are broadly vaccinated or seropositive and protected against it, it's going to be an ongoing battle for the next couple of years,” he noted.

6:41 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Restaurants in Los Angeles County reopen for outdoor dining after stay-at-home order is lifted

From CNN's Sarah Moon

The doors of the Baby Blues BBQ restaurant are seen locked in Los Angeles Monday, January 25.
The doors of the Baby Blues BBQ restaurant are seen locked in Los Angeles Monday, January 25. Damian Dovarganes/AP

Los Angeles County will allow restaurants to reopen for outdoor dining with safety modifications on Friday, county officials announced in a news conference Monday.

The announcement comes after the state lifted its regional stay-at-home order, which also included a ban on outdoor dining, after a four-week projection of intensive care unit bed capacity is expected to meet the 15% threshold in all five regions. 

L.A. County implemented the ban on outdoor dining in November amid a surge of new infections to reduce the possibility of exposure to coronavirus. The decision sparked controversy, drawing lawsuits from the California Restaurant Association and local restaurants hoping to overturn the ban.

County health officials also announced that starting today, museums, zoos, and aquariums can reopen for outdoor operations as well as fitness facilities and faith-based services. Personal care services can reopen for indoor operations with 25% capacity.

Private gatherings are also permitted as long as they are held outdoors and are limited to three households with a maximum of 15 people, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer announced. 

While some businesses will be able to resume operations effective immediately, Ferrer reminded residents that “this is not the time for people to think we can get back to our normal businesses and our normal ways of interacting with each other.”

She urged people to be careful and follow health orders to “prevent another increase in cases that leads us back to more restrictions.”

6:17 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Pentagon weighs deploying thousands of troops to help Biden reach vaccination target   

From CNN's Barbara Starr and Oren Liebermann 

President Joe Biden answers questions from reporters in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex on Monday, January 25, in Washington.
President Joe Biden answers questions from reporters in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex on Monday, January 25, in Washington. Evan Vucci/AP

The Department of Defense is weighing options to assist President Biden's plan to vaccinate as many as 1.5 million people per day within months. 

Discussions are taking place about deploying thousands of US troops to help with the vaccination efforts, according to four officials familiar with the talks who said a plan could be unveiled by the end of the week.

The discussions are at an early stage and no decisions have been taken yet, the officials caution. One official when pressed for an estimate said that as many as 10,000 troops could be deployed as part of the effort.

Such a deployment could start with medical units that have already been on standby orders for some time and have deployed in recent months to some of the hardest hit areas, one official said. The clock is already ticking on Biden's first 100 days in office with the goal of delivering 100 million vaccine shots within that timeframe. 

"It's all about how we can get better involved in the vaccinations," another official told CNN. "Planning efforts are ongoing, but there are no decisions."

It's unclear at this point if the plan would involve the use of active-duty troops, members of the National Guard, or some combination. Any plan will require that an approved request be sent from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to the Department of Defense, a process that takes time. 

"I think with the grace of God, the goodwill of the neighbor, and the creek not rising, as the old saying goes, I think we may be able to get that to 1.5 million a day, rather than 1 million a day," Biden said on Monday. "But we have to meet that goal of 1 million a day, and everything points that we're going to have a) enough vaccine b) enough syringes, and all the paraphernalia needed to store, keep, [and] inject into your arm the vaccine."

Biden also stressed the importance of needing more people to administer the vaccine.

Nationwide, 31 states are already using their National Guard to help administer vaccines, involving 23,000 troops, director of the National Guard Bureau Gen. Daniel Hokanson said Monday. 

"We stand ready to assist in any way that we can to make sure that we can really help as much as possible. And that's related not only to the state plans but also related to Operation Warp Speed," said Hokanson.

6:03 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

New variant of coronavirus called P.1 detected in US for first time, officials say

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

A new variant of coronavirus that worries health officials has been detected in the United States for the first time, officials in Minnesota said Monday. They said they had detected the P.1 variant of coronavirus in a traveler from Brazil.

P.1 is one of four variants being closely watched by officials at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Until Monday, it had only been reported in Brazil and among a group of four travelers from Brazil to Japan.

“The variant was found through the MDH’s variant surveillance program. Each week this program collects 50 random samples from the University of Minnesota clinical laboratories, Infinity Biologix Laboratory in Oakdale, and other testing partners and then conducts special testing using a process called whole genome sequencing,” the Minnesota Department of Health said in a statement.

The P.1 variant carries a pattern of mutations that appears to make the virus more easily transmitted.

“The emergence of this variant raises concerns of a potential increase in transmissibility or propensity for SARS-CoV-2 re-infection of individuals,” the CDC says on its website.

It’s been the most common variant of the virus detected in a surge of cases seen in and around Manaus, the largest city in Brazil’s Amazon region.

There’s no evidence it causes more severe disease, however.

“One of the reasons we are able to detect those variants of concern in Minnesota so quickly is that we have one of the best public health laboratory surveillance systems in the US,” Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said in a statement.

“We know that even as we work hard to defeat COVID-19, the virus continues to evolve as all viruses do. That’s yet another reason why we want to limit COVID-19 transmission – the fewer people who get COVID-19, the fewer opportunities the virus has to evolve,” Malcolm added.
6:00 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Vaccine distribution is an area of common ground for bipartisan group of senators, lawmaker says

From CNN's Jessica Dean

Republican Sen. Shelley Moore-Capito described the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine as a key area of common ground for the bipartisan group of senators who took part in a call with the White House on Sunday. 

“I think we all recognize we have a ways to go with vaccine distribution and therapeutics and that’s a top line on commonality among everybody,” Moore-Capito said Monday afternoon. 

President Biden said earlier on Monday he does not want to take a piecemeal approach with his Covid relief bill, but instead hopes Congress will pass one large bill encompassing a number of issues. 

Moore-Capito elaborated on some of the questions and concerns shared on the call. 

“We presented questions about money that still hasn’t been expended, are we targeting it well with individuals and everyone got a chance to kind of weigh in on that," she said.

Moore-Capito said she didn’t know about plans for the group to meet again but said she imagined they would. 

5:32 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Connecticut governor asks for state of emergency to be extended through April 20

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has formally requested legislative leaders to extend his emergency authorization due to Covid-19 through April 20. 

“We think by April 20 we're going to have a really good handle on where we stand in terms of vaccinations, where we stand on supply of vaccinations, where we stand on bending the curve, where we stand compared to that super contagious variant of the germ that's out there, hitting us every day right now, I think that'll be a very good time,” Lamont said Monday.

Lamont said the state has identified four additional cases of the B.1.1.7 Covid-19 variant in the state, for a total of eight known cases. The governor said the state is assuming the variant is much more widespread than just the eight recorded cases. 

According to Lamont, 27% of the people 75 years old and above in Connecticut have now received their first vaccine dose. At least 308,502 vaccine doses have been administered in total and Connecticut expects to have about 585,000 doses delivered by the end of this week, including first and second doses, according to Connecticut’s Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe.

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

5:15 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Vaccine makers say it will take time to scale up manufacturing

From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Scaling up manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines can’t be done overnight without sacrificing quality, officials from vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna said Monday.

“In collaboration with our partner, we're adding new abilities to supply, adding new material suppliers and growing that infrastructure as quickly as we can,” Dr. Rich Pelt, director of regulatory affairs at Pfizer, said during a panel hosted by investment institute iConnections. 

It takes time to get that right, Pelt noted.

Moderna president Dr. Stephen Hoge said vaccine makers have an obligation to maintain quality and consistency as they scale up capacity. 

“There can be no defects and there can’t be any quality concerns,” Hoge said. “It can't be that it's only 90% as potent, as you said. It has to be what you made the first time.”

He said the goal is to produce a consistent product at any manufacturing plant.

“There is six, nine months for us to bring new capacity online, no matter who does it, because you want to make sure that by the time it gets up and operating, that it’s really high quality,” Hoge said.

“That's the frustrating thing about scaling up,” he added.

Hoge said that the introduction of new Covid-19 vaccines will be part of the solution.

“We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that we expect J&J, Johnson & Johnson, to have a vaccine here shortly and many others,” Hoge said. “We're optimistic that actually the solution will not just be that we make more, but that actually there's many more options available.”

5:23 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Biden says he thinks vaccine will be widely available by spring

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

President Joe Biden speaks during an event on American manufacturing, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex on Monday, January 25, in Washington.
President Joe Biden speaks during an event on American manufacturing, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex on Monday, January 25, in Washington. Evan Vucci/AP

President Biden indicated on Monday that he thinks anyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get it by this spring – a target similar to one set under the Trump administration.

He also said that his administration does know how many coronavirus vaccines are available in the US, shortly after his top spokesperson and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director both told press they weren’t sure how much vaccine was in the American supply.

Asked when any American who wants a vaccine will be able to get it, Biden said during an executive order signing at the White House, “I think it’ll be this spring. I think we’ll be able to do that this spring."

"I feel confident that by summer we’re going to be well on our way to heading toward herd immunity and increasing the access for people aren’t on the first – on the list, all the way going down to children," he said. "I feel good about where we’re going and I think we can get it done.” 

Biden indicated that his administration knows the number of vaccines available in the US. 

“(W)e are optimistic that we will have enough vaccine. And in very short order. As you know, we came in office without knowledge of how much vaccine was out being held in abeyance are available. Now that we're here, we've been around a week or so, we now have that,” Biden said at an executive order signing at the White House.

Some context: Hours earlier, White House press secretary Jen Psaki would not provide details on the current coronavirus vaccine supply in the US, blaming problems inherited by the Trump administration for the Biden administration’s lack of information about the current supply levels.

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