February 1 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton and Kara Fox, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, February 2, 2021
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1:39 a.m. ET, February 1, 2021

US reports more than 110,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Alta Spells in Atlanta

The United States reported 110,470 new Covid-19 cases and 1,789 virus-related deaths Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases.

In total, the US has reported at least 26,185,355 cases of coronavirus, including 441,319 deaths, according to JHU.

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

Vaccines: At least 49,933,250 Covid-19 vaccine doses have been distributed and at least 31,123,299 shots administered, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CNN is tracking US cases here.

1:26 a.m. ET, February 1, 2021

GOP senators will meet President Biden on Monday to discuss coronavirus relief plan

From CNN’s Manu Raju

A group of Republican senators will meet US President Joe Biden on Monday afternoon to discuss an alternative coronavirus economic relief plan they proposed to the White House on Sunday, according to a joint statement from those legislators.

“We appreciate the President’s quick response to our letter, and we are pleased to accept his invitation to the White House tomorrow afternoon to discuss the path forward for the sixth bipartisan Covid-19 relief package,” the 10 Senators said in the statement.

The White House said Sunday that Biden had spoken to Sen. Susan Collins, one of the 10 senators, and invited her and the others to meet.

The Republican senators are planning to unveil a roughly $600 billion Covid-19 relief package, which is a counterproposal to Biden's $1.9 trillion plan.

The counterproposal includes:

  • A total of $160 billion for vaccine development and distribution, testing and tracing, and treatment and supplies, including the production and deployment of personal protective equipment.
  • A new round of direct payments for "families who need assistance the most," an extension of enhanced federal unemployment benefits at the current level and $4 billion to bolster behavioral health and substance abuse.
  • Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, one of the Republicans who signed the letter, told Fox News on Sunday that the GOP plan includes payments starting at $1,000 -- an amount lower than the $1,400 Biden's plan provides for -- that would decrease depending on an individual's income level.
12:57 a.m. ET, February 1, 2021

Latin American and Caribbean countries notified of COVAX Covid-19 vaccine allocations

From CNN's Claudia Rebaza

Countries in the Americas have been notified of their first Covid-19 vaccine allocations through COVAX, a coalition led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to ensure equitable access, according to a Sunday press release from the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO). 

Some 36 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have been told via letters sent to their health authorities of their estimated dose allocation for the first phase of vaccine delivery, the PAHO release said. 

The AstraZeneca vaccine will be supplied first, although it is still under review by WHO for emergency approval. That approval is expected within days, according to PAHO.

"With more than 45 million confirmed cases and more than one million deaths, countries and territories throughout the Americas, particularly the poorest among them, are experiencing an unprecedented health, economic and social crisis," said PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne.
"The start of vaccine delivery through the COVAX mechanism is a hopeful step in the fight against this virus and PAHO is proud to facilitate an effort that is urgently needed for our region."

Delivery timeline: It's estimated that around 35.3 million doses will be arriving in the Americas in this first stage, and should reach their destination from the second half of February through the second quarter of 2021. The vaccine dose figures are subject to manufacturing production capacity and supply agreements, in addition to the emergency use approval, the PAHO release said.

Ahead of the vaccine delivery, those countries in the Americas participating in COVAX are now starting preparations to receive and deploy the vaccines, according to PAHO.

Additional doses: Additionally, four Latin American countries participating in COVAX were selected by an independent committee based on criteria of pandemic risk, impact, and mortality rates in recent weeks to receive a limited number of doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine above their allotted quota.

Bolivia, Colombia, El Salvador, and Peru will receive a total of 377,910 doses of the Pfizer vaccine expected to arrive from mid-February, subject to supply agreements.

5:08 a.m. ET, February 1, 2021

100-year-old UK fundraising hero Tom Moore hospitalized with Covid-19

From CNN's Nic Robertson and Eoin McSweeney

Tom Moore, the World War II veteran who raised millions for a British charity supporting the UK's National Health Service by walking laps of his garden before his 100th birthday, has been hospitalized with Covid-19 and pneumonia, his daughter Hannah said on Twitter Sunday.

Moore became a national celebrity and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in July after raising nearly £33 million ($40 million at the time).

Moore was taken to a hospital on Sunday because of breathing problems after being treated for pneumonia for the last few weeks, his daughter said, adding that he was not in intensive care.

"The medical care he has received in the last few weeks has been remarkable and we know that the wonderful staff at Bedford Hospital will do all they can to make him comfortable and hopefully return home as soon as possible," she said.

Moore has not been vaccinated, CNN affiliate ITV News reported Monday. He was not able to receive the vaccine because he was being treated for pneumonia, according to ITV.

Read more:

12:01 a.m. ET, February 1, 2021

AstraZeneca will deliver additional Covid-19 vaccine doses to Europe, EC president says

From CNN’s James Frater in Brussels

Drugmaker AstraZeneca will deliver additional doses of its coronavirus vaccine to the European Union and increase its manufacturing capacity on the continent, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday.

In a Twitter post, Von der Leyen described the move as a “step forward on vaccines”, saying: “AstraZeneca will deliver 9 million additional doses in the first quarter (40 million in total) compared to last week’s offer & will start deliveries one week earlier than scheduled.”

In her tweet, she also said, “The company will also expand its manufacturing capacity in Europe.”

The European Union's medicines regulator on Friday recommended authorizing the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for use among its 27 member states, capping off a turbulent week which saw the bloc attack the drugmaker over delays to supply.

The long-awaited decision from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) came after several EU countries warned they were running out of vaccine doses, and as coronavirus deaths pile up across the continent.

In a bid to tackle concerns over supply, the European Commission also adopted new measures Friday that could restrict the exporting of Covid-19 vaccines outside the bloc in some situations.

11:04 p.m. ET, January 31, 2021

Single Covid case in Western Australia leads to 5-day lockdown for 2 million

From CNN's Chandler Thornton

Parts of Western Australia went into a five-day lockdown Sunday, after a hotel security guard tested positive for coronavirus.

The Perth metropolitan area and the Peel and South West regions of the Australian state are now under "full lockdown," Premier Mark McGowan announced Sunday, with residents only able to leave their homes for essential shopping, medical needs, exercise, and for jobs that cannot be done at home or remotely.

Schools, most businesses, entertainment venues and places of worship are all closed, and restaurants restricted to takeaway only.

"This is a very serious situation and each and every one of us has to do everything we personally can to help stop the spread in the community," McGowan said.

The Perth metropolitan area and the Peel and South West regions have a combined population of more than 2 million people, with the vast majority living in the state capital Perth.

What happened? The drastic measures come after a man in his 20s who worked as a security guard at the Sheraton Four Points, a hotel quarantine facility, tested positive for the coronavirus. Of the four active cases at the hotel while the man was on shift, two were carrying the United Kingdom strain and one the South African strain of the virus, which are believed to be more contagious than other variants.

"We are told the guard was working on the same floor, as a positive UK variant case," McGowan said. As the man had worked two 12-hour shifts on January 26 and 27, it was possible he had contracted the UK strain, the premier added, though he said "exactly how the infection was acquired remains under investigation."

What happens next? Officials are calling on all people who visited a specified list of venues on a certain date to get tested. All close contacts of the man are required to quarantine for 14 days.

"Western Australians have done so well for so long but this week it is absolutely crucial that we stay home, maintain physical distancing and personal hygiene and get tested if you have symptoms," McGowan said.

Read the full story:

11:52 p.m. ET, January 31, 2021

Homeland Security gives TSA workers authority to enforce Biden's mask mandate

From CNN's Pete Muntean and Devan Cole

A TSA agent screens a traveler at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, on June 9, 2020.
A TSA agent screens a traveler at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, on June 9, 2020. Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security said Sunday that Transportation Security Administration workers now have the authority to enforce President Joe Biden's transportation mask mandate "at TSA screening checkpoints and throughout the commercial and public transportation system."

Acting Secretary David Pekoske on Sunday signed a Determination of National Emergency, which said the TSA can "take actions consistent with the authorities" of its federal jurisdiction so it can enforce the mask mandate order laid out by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention late Friday.

"This includes supporting the CDC in the enforcement of any orders or other requirements necessary to protect the transportation system, including passengers and employees, from Covid-19 and to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 through the transportation system, to the extent appropriate and consistent with applicable law," Pekoske wrote.

The CDC order issued last week requires people to wear a mask while using any form of public transportation, including on board planes, trains, buses, boats, subways, taxis and ride-shares, as well as inside airports and other transportation hubs. The order goes into effect Monday at 11:59 p.m.

The TSA said in a news release Sunday that passengers without a mask "may be denied entry, boarding, or continued transport" and that failure to comply with the mask requirement can result in civil penalties.

Read the full story:

11:51 p.m. ET, January 31, 2021

Covid-19 hospitalizations drop, but January has been the deadliest month of the pandemic

From CNN's Christina Maxouris and Holly Yan

Paramedics arrive with a Covid-19 patient at the emergency department of Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego, California, on January 28.
Paramedics arrive with a Covid-19 patient at the emergency department of Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego, California, on January 28. Bing Guan/Bloomberg/Getty Images

For the first time in almost two months, fewer than 100,000 Americans are hospitalized for Covid-19.

The United States on Sunday reported 95,013 Covid-19 hospitalizations, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project. And 97,561 patients were hospitalized Saturday. The last time the number was below 100,000 was December 1.

Yet the seven-day average of new cases is still about the same as it was December 1. Even worse, the average number of daily deaths is more than double what it was then.

January has been by far the deadliest month of the pandemic: At least 95,245 people died from Covid-19 in January, surpassing December's total of 77,486 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

"Right now it's the worst of possible worlds. It's the winter. It's getting cold out, people are together more, there's still a critical number of people in the United States who don't wear masks, who don't social distance," said Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the Food and Drug Administration's vaccine advisory committee.

"I think the next six weeks or two months are going to be rough. I think we could have another 100,000, 150,000 deaths."

He's not alone in that prediction. About 120,000 more Americans could die from Covid-19 over the next two months, according to the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

So health experts are urging all Americans to double down on wearing masks and keeping their distance from others.

And while vaccine makers and officials scramble to get more Americans vaccinated, they're racing against the spread of highly contagious strains of coronavirus that are now in the US.

Read the full story:

11:51 p.m. ET, January 31, 2021

White House open to scaling down stimulus checks to families making more than $150,000 in Covid-19 relief bill

From CNN's Pamela Brown and Caroline Kenny

A federal coronavirus stimulus check from the United States Treasury in 2020.
A federal coronavirus stimulus check from the United States Treasury in 2020. William Sawalich/Shutterstock

President Joe Biden is open to some negotiation on his $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package, a senior administration official told CNN, but the $600 billion counterproposal announced by some Republican senators Sunday is "not going to scratch the itch."

The White House is specifically open to considering scaling down stimulus checks for families making more than $150,000 per year, the official said, but the administration is not considering cutting off months of unemployment insurance access or money going to schools.

The official told CNN that if the Republican counterproposal moved forward, lawmakers would have to return to negotiating again in two months, which could happen in an even harsher political landscape. The official said that while the Biden administration is open to their relief package being smaller than $1.9 trillion, they're not considering a $600 billion plan.

The Republican relief package represents the most significant response yet to the White House's planned package, though with a price tag more than a trillion dollars less than the Democratic plan, the GOP proposal will likely face opposition from congressional Democrats.

The counterproposal includes a total of $160 billion for vaccine development and distribution, testing and tracing, and treatment and supplies, including the production and deployment of personal protective equipment. It also includes a new round of direct payments for "families who need assistance the most," extends enhanced federal unemployment benefits at the current level and provides $4 billion to bolster behavioral health and substance abuse.

Read the full story: