January 27 coronavirus news

By Zahid Mahmood, Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton and Hannah Strange, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, January 28, 2021
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8:17 p.m. ET, January 27, 2021

Most US states have identified cases of coronavirus variant first spotted in UK, CDC reports

From CNN's Michael Nedelman

At least 315 cases of a coronavirus variant first spotted in the UK have been detected in 28 US states, according to data posted Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This includes 92 cases in Florida, 92 in California, 22 in New York, 17 in Michigan and 14 in Georgia. The following states have found fewer than 10 cases each: Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

One thing to note: The CDC said this does not represent the total number of cases circulating in the US, but rather just those that have been found by analyzing positive samples. The agency cautions that its numbers may not immediately match those of state and local health departments.

The variant — which is known as B.1.1.7 and appears to spread more easily — has also been found in at least 70 countries worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

8:08 p.m. ET, January 27, 2021

CNN analysis suggests 12% of US population might currently have some protection against Covid-19

From CNN’s Deidre McPhillips

Between vaccination coverage and natural immunity among those who have recovered from an infection, about 12% — and perhaps as much as a third — of the US population may currently have some degree of protection against Covid-19, according to a CNN analysis.

About 6% of the US population has been vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Close to 20 million people have received at least one dose of the two-dose regimen — which trial data shows can offer partial protection against the virus — and more than 3.8 million people are fully vaccinated.

Studies show that people who recover from Covid-19 are largely immune to the virus for a period of time. About 25 million cases of Covid-19 have been reported to the CDC, representing about another 8% of the population with some protection against Covid-19.

However, the CDC estimates that just a fraction of total Covid-19 cases in the US have actually been reported. The latest estimates show that total cases may have topped 83 million through December. Along with the 5 million or so cases that have been reported in January, about 88 million people – more than a quarter of the US population – may actually be protected from Covid-19 after recovering from infection.

Experts say that people who have already had Covid-19 should still get the vaccine. The immunity you get from contracting Covid-19 does last for a certain amount of time, but the nature of the vaccine should provide longer immunity, according to CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

The CNN estimates of current protection against Covid-19 do not account for any potential overlap among individuals who may be counted in both the number of people who have been vaccinated and those who have been infected.

With at least one vaccine dose administered to about 6% of the population and potentially a quarter of the population immune after infection, as many as about 1 in 3 people in the US may currently be at least partially protected against Covid-19. 

That said, trial data shows that one dose of vaccine only offers partial coverage. And while some studies found that immunity to Covid-19 may last years after infection, others have found it may wane after just five months.

On Tuesday, President Biden announced a boost to vaccine supply allocated to states and promised to have enough doses to vaccinate at least 300 million people by late summer or early fall.

8:03 p.m. ET, January 27, 2021

CNN hosts town hall with Biden's Covid-19 team

CNN's Anderson Cooper and Sanjay Gupta.
CNN's Anderson Cooper and Sanjay Gupta. Source: CNN

President Biden's Covid-19 team will soon appear on CNN's global coronavirus town hall tonight to answer questions from readers and viewers.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Rochelle Walensky and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith will join CNN's Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta for the hour-long event at 8 p.m. ET.

The White House Covid-19 response team gave their first virtual briefing earlier today to address vaccine distribution problems and questions about a vaccine stockpile that top officials said does not exist.

The briefing also addressed the spread of new coronavirus variants that are more contagious threatens to add stress to an already overwhelmed health care system, Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday.

The briefing included an updated US coronavirus death forecast from Walensky, who said the CDC's ensemble forecast now projects there will be 479,000 to 514,000 deaths by Feb. 20.

Unlike some individual models, the CDC's ensemble forecast only offers projections a few weeks into the future. The previous ensemble forecast, published Jan. 20, projected up to 508,000 coronavirus deaths by Feb. 13.

At least 425,406 people have already died from Covid-19 in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

A portion of the briefing was also devoted to emphasizing that equitable distribution of medical care and vaccines is key to the administration's national coronavirus plan, a priority amid recent research that has showed communities of color are not being vaccinated in proportion to their share of the population.

7:46 p.m. ET, January 27, 2021

Fauci says Covid-19 vaccine distribution must focus on people of color

From CNN's Andrea Diaz

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the US must focus on minorities in order to efficiently distribute Covid-19 vaccines. 

"I think that's the one thing we really got to be careful of, we don't want in the beginning that most of the people who are getting it are otherwise, well, middle-class White people," Fauci said during an interview with The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

Fauci's remarks come after CNN published an analysis that found that on average, more than 4% of the White population has received a Covid-19 vaccine, about 2.3 times higher than the Black population (1.9% covered) and 2.6 times higher than the Hispanic population (1.8% covered).

"You really want to get it to the people who are really the most vulnerable, you want to get it to everybody, but you don't want to have a situation where people who really are in need of it, because of where they are, where they live with their economic status is, that they don't have access to the vaccine," Fauci said.

7:28 p.m. ET, January 27, 2021

Only half of Covid-19 vaccines delivered to states have been used, CDC data shows. Here's one reason why

From CNN's John Bonifield

A possible explanation is emerging for why federal data shows only about half of the vaccine supply delivered in the US has been administered.  

The nation’s vaccine distribution figures have baffled observers for weeks, with states claiming they need more vaccine when the data indicates they still have many doses on hand. 

Health officials for President Biden sought to explain on Wednesday, at least in part.  

Speaking at a media briefing, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said not all vaccine that's been delivered to states is available for "inserting into people's arms." 

White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients took that explanation a step further. 

"Some of what the states have right now is inventory to do the very, very important second shot," Zients said. "I think it's important that when you're looking at state's inventories that you recognize that some of that inventory is being held for the very important second shot." 

The Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines currently available for emergency use in the US require two doses. A federal dashboard tracks the nation's distribution of these vaccines. The data shows how many doses of vaccine have been delivered to each state, but it does not differentiate between first and second doses.  

Consider Florida, where the federal data on Wednesday showed about 3.1 million doses had been delivered and about 1.6 million had been administered. That's roughly 50% of the doses going into arms. 

On Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki used similar figures to suggest that Florida had a good deal of vaccine, after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis claimed the state wasn't getting enough supply from the federal government and needed more.   

“I will note, because we're data-first here, facts-first, they’ve only distributed about 50% of the vaccines they’ve been given in Florida," Psaki said. "So, clearly they have a good deal of the vaccine.” 

On Wednesday, DeSantis pushed back against those comments from the White House, explaining the federal data didn't account for vaccine earmarked for second doses. 

"When the person at the White House says that Florida has all these doses, those are second doses," DeSantis said. 

Other states also say part of their vaccine inventory is intended for second shots. 

"When a first dose comes, you can just go ahead and give it to someone. When a second doses comes, it needs to be 21 days later for Pfizer or 28 days later for Moderna," Kristen Ehresmann, the director of Minnesota's Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division, said in an email to CNN. "So yes, we get this vaccine and then give it at the appropriate interval and it can look like we are ‘sitting on doses’ when that is not the case." 

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has started to express the state's vaccine distribution figures in terms of first and second doses, announcing Wednesday that 96% of the state’s allocated first doses have been administered, excluding the federal long-term care facility vaccination program with CVS and Walgreens. 

On Tuesday, Cuomo said his state was “basically out of vaccine,” but that same day New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had also complained about being short on vaccine, said the city did have doses intended for second shots in its inventory. 

"I've got a hundred thousand second doses," de Blasio told MSNBC. 

De Blasio went on to say the doses were "sitting on a shelf" and "can't be used for weeks." He said President Biden should order governments across the country to take second doses in their inventory and use them right now for first doses. 

"Even a first dose gives folks about 50% protection," he said. 

Cuomo said on Tuesday second doses aren't being distributed as first doses due to uncertainty over how quickly additional doses of vaccine can be made. 

"The fear is, until you really know what the production schedule is, if you start using the second dose as the first dose, you have to have a dramatically increased supply otherwise you're going to leave people without a second dose when their appointment is due," said Cuomo. 

It's unclear how many states have an inventory of second doses, or how many states may be handling distribution of second doses differently. The White House and the Health and Human Services Department did not immediately respond to CNN's inquiries for additional details.  

In Maryland, the state is not holding onto any reserve doses in its warehouses aside from doses to be administered that week, according to Charlie Gischlar of the state’s department of health. Gischlar says Maryland has requested the federal government automatically distribute second doses to providers who were provided with first doses. 

7:18 p.m. ET, January 27, 2021

US Travel Association says requiring Covid testing for domestic travel would be "extremely problematic"

From CNN's Greg Wallace

A major voice for the tourism industry is urging the Biden administration against requiring coronavirus tests for travel within the United States, a possibility a federal official said Tuesday is under consideration.  

The official said the government is “actively looking at” the possibility of domestic travel testing requirements, as well as requirements for travelers entering the US on roads connecting the country to Canada and Mexico.  

“These are conversations that are ongoing and looking at what the types and locations of testing might be,” said Marty Cetron, director for Global Migration and Quarantine at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He spoke Tuesday at a State Department briefing.  

“We realize that there’s been a dramatic evolution and increase in both testing platforms and testing capacity. I think this is a really important part of our toolkit to combat this pandemic.”  

The US Travel Association said Wednesday it supports the requirement that any traveler flying into the US must present a negative Covid test, but that it believes requiring domestic travelers to present a negative result is “extremely problematic” and impractical. Some states and local governments do require at least some travelers to quarantine upon arrival or obtain a test, but the counsel from the CDC against travel are only guidelines.  

“Our view really is that it would be extremely problematic [and] difficult to enforce for many reasons – in particular, the high cost and low availability of testing, which really would make it quite unworkable,” said Tori Barnes of the US Travel Association. She spoke to reporters on a conference call after a presentation from the group’s president and CEO on the state of travel.    

Barnes said the group has “articulated this concern on this point to the Biden administration,” including the White House and other agencies. She said it would “really hamper not only the mobility of the country but put a huge further dent into the overall national economy.”  

She estimated that to accommodate pre-travel testing at the current level of travel, the US would need to grow testing capacity by up to 42%. Travel has slumped since the holidays, and the Transportation Security Administration said it screened fewer people on Tuesday than any single day in six months.

It is unclear how seriously the new administration is considering such a plan while it rolls out other measures to address the spread of coronavirus. White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to provide details about the topic when asked at Monday’s briefing.  

Last week, President Biden directed federal agencies to develop a plan for requiring passengers on virtually all forms mass transportation to wear masks. The requirement for passengers on international flights into the US to present a recent negative coronavirus test took effect on Tuesday. And Biden prevented the lifting of travel restrictions from certain countries, including those where scientists found aggressive variants of the virus spreading.  

7:09 p.m. ET, January 27, 2021

England's latest lockdown may finally be working, but some regions are seeing a rise in cases, study shows

From CNN’s Meera Senthilingam

Cases of coronavirus are starting to decline slightly across England, but this is likely to be driven by significant regional variation, a major survey finds.

The study by scientists at Imperial College London found that Covid-19 cases are declining in the southeast and southwest of the country, including London, but are rising in other regions, notably the East Midlands. And overall, the prevalence of infections remains high.

“We still remain very worried that high levels of community prevalence are going to continue to cause high levels of pressure on the NHS (National Health Service),” said Paul Elliott, chair in Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine at Imperial College London. “There is this suggestion of a downtick now, but by no means as fast as we saw in lockdown one.” 

The study, called REACT-1, randomly sampled 167,642 people across England between Jan. 6 and 22. Of them 2,282 or 1.57% tested positive. The results show the national prevalence remained stable up until Jan. 15, then started to show a slight decline in the last week of the survey.

However, the researchers believe this is due to declines in the South bringing the national average down — with the Southwest seeing the greatest fall in infections. Other regions either had minimal no decline, or in the case of the East Midlands, saw an increase.

Despite the decline, London continued to have the highest burden of Covid cases, with 2.83% of people sampled testing positive. In terms of age groups, the highest prevalence was seen in people aged 18 to 34 or close to 2% of that population. Close to 1% of people over 65 nationally were infected and 2% of people over 65 in London.

Unlike government data, which has results for people who come forward for testing, REACT-1 selects people at random and so includes people with and without symptoms and who may not suspect they’re infected. The study also monitors people’s movements using mobility data from Facebook apps. Through this they could see that people while there was a decrease in activity towards the end of December, this was followed by a rise in January.

Elliott said more people are active now than they were in the first lockdown, with more people going to work and more children in schools. This is all adding to the reduced impact of the national lockdown. 

“It’s going in the right direction, probably, but it's not going in the right direction fast enough,” said Elliott. “Without a rapid decline, there will continue be pressure on health services.”
5:13 p.m. ET, January 27, 2021

University of Michigan issues "stay in place" order due to spread of Covid-19 variant

From CNN's Meridith Edwards

A University of Michigan bus makes its way around campus on Monday, January 25.
A University of Michigan bus makes its way around campus on Monday, January 25. Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press/USA Today Network

Students at University of Michigan are being asked "stay in place" on campus in Ann Arbor to slow the spread of cases of the Covid-19 B.1.1.7 variant on campus until Feb. 7, according to a news release sent Wednesday.

The recommendation comes in coordination with the Washtenaw County Health Department, and is directed at undergraduate and graduate students, as well as student-athletes who are currently living on and off campus, the release said.

"Students are permitted to leave their residence only to participate in limited activities, including in-person classes, work or research that cannot be completed remotely, obtaining food and medical care and other approved activities," according to the release.

The school says it has increased Covid-19 testing among students, and has reported 175 Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the winter term. Fourteen of those cases are the B.1.1.7 variant.

“This recommendation is intended to slow any possible spread and give us a better understanding of the extent of the presence of B.1.1.7 variant on campus and to aid in containing any current spread," said Rob Ernst, associate vice president for student life and executive director of the University Health Service. "We encourage all students to stay in place and only leave their residence for essential activities, including getting tested weekly for COVID-19."

4:00 p.m. ET, January 27, 2021

More than 24.6 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the US, new CDC data shows

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

JoAnn Lewis receives a Covid-19 vaccine in Wenatchee, Washington, on Tuesday.
JoAnn Lewis receives a Covid-19 vaccine in Wenatchee, Washington, on Tuesday. David Ryder/Getty Images

More than 24.6 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States, according to data published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC reported that 24,652,634 total doses have been administered, or about 52% of the 47,230,950 doses distributed.

More than 20 million people have now received at least one dose of the vaccine, a benchmark that the Trump administration had previously said the United States would hit by the end of 2020.

More than 3.8 million people have been fully vaccinated, CDC data shows.

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.