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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4:31 p.m. ET, February 1, 2021

American Airlines updates mask policy to match Biden administration

From CNN's Pete Muntean

Travelers are seen at the American Airlines check-in counter at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles on October 1, 2020.
Travelers are seen at the American Airlines check-in counter at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles on October 1, 2020. Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

American Airlines is updating its mask rules to match the Biden administration’s new transportation mask mandate.

American says passengers claiming a medical exemption must ask for airline approval and show proof of a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours of their flight—a caveat laid out in a CDC order published last Friday.

American is also updating its rules on bandanas and gaiters, now more restricted under the new federal rules.

Starting Tuesday, the Transportation Security Administration will begin enforcing masks in airports, at security checkpoints, and on-board flights. 

American Airlines COO David Seymour said “this federal mandate will provide additional support to our crew members who are working diligently to enforce our policy and further reinforce the safety of air travel during COVID-19.”

4:18 p.m. ET, February 1, 2021

3 cases of UK variant discovered in Iowa, state health officials say

From CNN’s Keith Allen

The B.1.1.7 variant of Covid-19, colloquially known as the UK variant, has been detected in Iowa, according to a news release from the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH).

Three cases of the variant have been discovered in the Hawkeye State, with two cases detected in Johnson County and the third case appearing in Bremer County, IDPH says. All three cases are adults, and the presence of the variant was identified by the State Hygienic Lab (SHL), according to IDPH.

“IDPH and local public health have already initiated contact with these cases to understand their exposures and initiate the health monitoring process. The process will include notifying anyone with whom these individuals have been in close contact. The individuals will be advised to isolate in accordance with IDPH and CDC guidance,” IDPH notes in the news release obtained by CNN affiliate KWWL.

Regarding the three cases, “state and local public health officials are conducting additional epidemiological investigation to gather more details about illness, travel history, and potential exposures,” IDPH spokesperson Sarah Ekstrand tells CNN in an email Monday afternoon.

4:07 p.m. ET, February 1, 2021

Colorado sees Covid-19 variants as cases trend downward and vaccinations increase

From CNN’s Laurie Ure

A site tester administers a COVID test at Echo Park Stadium on December 30, 2020, in Parker, Colorado.
A site tester administers a COVID test at Echo Park Stadium on December 30, 2020, in Parker, Colorado. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Colorado is seeing variants of Covid-19, just as the number of cases in the state ticks downward and the number of vaccinated residents increases, according to state health officials.  

Dr. Rachel Herlihy, Colorado's epidemiologist, told reporters during a Zoom news conference that scientists have identified a total of 16 Covid-19 variants in the state, 13 of which are known as the United Kingdom's B117 variant. Three are the variant known as L4524 that's been causing infections in California.

Herlihy said that the number of Covid-19 cases in Colorado has been steadily declining after a "little bit of a holiday spike." Similarly, hospitalizations have declined over that same period, she said.

Brigadier Gen. Scott Sherman of Colorado's National Guard, who's honchoing the state's vaccine distribution said 90% of moderate risk, front-line healthcare workers have received both doses of the vaccine, 100% of skilled nursing facilities have received their first doses, he said, with 71% receiving a second.

Thirty-nine percent of Coloradans aged 70 and older have received their first vaccine dose, Sherman said, as they move towards a goal of 70% of those 70 and older getting vaccinated by the end of February. 

Sherman said he's hoping 75% or higher of educators can be fully vaccinated by March 5, ahead of spring break, depending on how many teachers are up for taking the vaccine. 

Sherman said state health officials are "working hard" on vaccine distribution equity across the state diverse population, and on better transparency regarding that issue.

 

3:16 p.m. ET, February 1, 2021

More than 32 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the US, new CDC data shows

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

Medical staff inoculate the public and first responders against Covid-19 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on February 1.
Medical staff inoculate the public and first responders against Covid-19 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on February 1. Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images

More than 32 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States, according to data published today by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The CDC reported that 32,222,402 total doses have been administered, about 65% of the 49,936,450 doses distributed. The data shows that all states have reported that at least half of distributed doses have been administered.

Nationally, about 1.1 million more doses have been administered since reported yesterday, for a 7-day average of about 1.3 million doses per day. 

More than 26 million people have now received at least one dose of the vaccine and nearly 6 million people have been fully vaccinated, CDC data shows.

Note on the data: 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 administered on the day reported. 

2:55 p.m. ET, February 1, 2021

"Critical" week begins in France, country's finance minister says

From Barbara Wojazer and Pierre Bairin

Policemen patrol near Le Printemps shopping center in Paris on January 31.
Policemen patrol near Le Printemps shopping center in Paris on January 31. Geoffroy Van der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images

The French government will be closely watching this week’s coronavirus numbers in the hope of avoiding another lockdown, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on RTL radio on Monday morning. 

“This week is critical because if the choices we made bear fruits, we will be able to avoid another lockdown,” Le Maire noted.

He echoed French Prime Minister Jean Castex who said that “we still have a chance to avoid confinement” during an address to the nation on Friday. 

“We all want to be able to return to our normal life. We are all tired of living like this,” Le Maire added on Monday morning, acknowledging the impact of measures on French people’s morale.

“If we can avoid the hardship of a lockdown, I think the only wise and responsible choice is to use all the other options” before resorting to a lockdown, the Minister emphasized.

The government is also weighing the economic costs of a confinement, knowing that the curfew “limits economic damages.”

While the current nighttime curfew costs the French state around $7.2 billion per month, a full lockdown costs $18 billion per month, Le Maire explained.

On Monday evening, France recorded 4,347 more coronavirus cases – though Monday’s numbers always tend to be lower.

There are now 3,218 patients in intensive care units, a jump of 70 from the previous day, according to data released by the health agency on Monday evening.

The number of coronavirus patients in hospital increased by 301, totaling at least 27,874 on Monday, according to the same numbers.

On Monday evening, at least 1,537,614 people had received a first injection of Covid-19 vaccine, and 69,464 had received a second dose.

2:38 p.m. ET, February 1, 2021

There are now 19 cases of the UK Covid-19 variant in Georgia, health department says

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch

There are now 19 known cases of the UK Covid-19 variant B.1.1.7 in Georgia, the Department of Health said in a news release

The cases are in individuals ages 15 to 61. Eight are male and 11 are female, the release said.

The cases live in metro Atlanta – Carroll, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fulton, Gwinnett, and Paulding counties. DPH is working to identify close contacts of the individuals, and will monitor them closely.

The Department of Health is not releasing any other information on the individuals.

2:14 p.m. ET, February 1, 2021

Russia extends UK flight ban until Feb. 16

From CNN’s Mary Ilyushina

Russia has extended a ban on flights to and from the United Kingdom until Feb. 16, Russian state media reported citing the country’s coronavirus task force. 

"In order to prevent import and spread of novel coronavirus infection in Russia the task force has decided to extend the suspension of flights with the UK,” TASS reported. “To ensure the protection of public health, the restrictions have been extended until 23:59, February 16, 2021.”

Russia imposed the flight ban on Dec. 22 in light of the new coronavirus variant circulating across the UK and several other countries. 

2:32 p.m. ET, February 1, 2021

German Chancellor says everyone in the country will be offered a vaccine by Sept. 21

From Claudia Otto and Stephanie Halasz

German Chancellor Angela Merkel holds a news conference in Berlin on February 1.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel holds a news conference in Berlin on February 1. Hannibal Hanschke/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said everyone in the country would be offered a coronavirus vaccine by Sept. 21. 

Speaking at a news conference after a virtual meeting with pharmaceutical company representatives and the state prime ministers of the German states, Merkel said the vaccine would need to be available for 73 million adults. 

“We basically need a good management for citizens when vaccination appointments will be handed out. There is a national vaccination strategy, this strategy will now also include a national vaccination plan, and according to this plan we will predict delivery dates to the best of our knowledge,” Merkel said. 

Speaking at the same news-conference, the Hamburg mayor Peter Tschentscher warned that the vaccine situation would remain tight in the first quarter. 

And Markus Soeder, Prime Minister of Bavaria, said coronavirus was a serious stress test for the population. He warned not to endlessly look back and analyze mistakes. 

2:32 p.m. ET, February 1, 2021

South Africa eases strictest Covid-19 restrictions as infection rates drop

From CNN’s David McKenzie

A man walks past a closed liquor store in Newtown, Johannesburg, on December 29, 2020.
A man walks past a closed liquor store in Newtown, Johannesburg, on December 29, 2020. Phil Magakoe/AFP/Getty Images

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa announced several measures to ease Covid-19 restrictions as infection rates continue to drop in the country. 

“We have recorded our lowest daily increase in infections since the beginning of December last year,” he said Monday, adding that hospital admissions have dropped considerably in recent days.  

Ramaphosa announced that public spaces, pools, and rivers will now open and he rescinded the ban on alcohol sales and transportation – with certain restrictions. Ramaphosa also announced an easing of a nationwide curfew to between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. local time as well as certain restrictions on religious gatherings. 

South Africa had been hit by a significant second wave of the virus driven by a more infectious variant identified late last year. Tighter restrictions were put in place in late December. 

Ramaphosa was on hand earlier Monday in Johannesburg to receive one million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute in India.