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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1:36 p.m. ET, February 1, 2021

More than 1 in 5 US Covid-19 deaths were reported in January

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

Employees move bodies into refrigerated semi-trucks at the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner on January 14 in Tucson, Arizona.
Employees move bodies into refrigerated semi-trucks at the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner on January 14 in Tucson, Arizona. Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

More than 441,000 people in the United States have died of Covid-19 since the pandemic began about a year ago. About 22% of those deaths – more than 95,000 – were reported in January, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

December was the second deadliest month with more than 77,000 reported deaths, followed by April with nearly 61,000 reported deaths. 

More than half of all Covid-19 deaths were reported in those three months: January 2021, December 2020 and April 2020. 

The seven-day average of new cases has dropped nearly every day since reaching a peak on Jan. 8, but reported deaths remain high. In January, there were more than 3,000 deaths reported each day, on average. 

1:29 p.m. ET, February 1, 2021

New York state positivity rate is down for the 24th straight day, governor says

From CNN's Brian Vitagliano

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference on February 1.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference on February 1. State of New York

New York state positivity rate is 4.8%, which is the 24th straight day of decline, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The positivity rate is the percentage of people who test positive for the virus of those overall who have been tested.

Speaking at a news conference today, Cuomo said 141 New Yorker’s passed away yesterday due to Covid-19, “Remember these are not just numbers, these are 141 number of deaths,” he said.

New York state has vaccinated approximately 1.69 million residents according to the governor. “We are basically exhausting our week to week allocation, waiting for my supply from the federal government, we have much more distribution in place than we have supply,” Cuomo said Monday.

Note: These numbers were released by New York State Dept. of Health and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

1:27 p.m. ET, February 1, 2021

New US security directives require airlines, airports to report those who disobey mask rules

From CNN's Greg Wallace

People wait for a flight at an international terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport on January 25 in New York City.
People wait for a flight at an international terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport on January 25 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Airlines and airports across the US will now be required to report to federal authorities any instances of passengers or patrons disobeying the new federal mask mandate, according to documents obtained by CNN.  

The documents are the security directives issued to airlines and airports by the Transportation Security Administration this weekend to carry out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mask order, and President Joe Biden’s executive order.  

The directive instructs officials to submit the “full name and contact information” of anyone not complying with the order to the TSA, as well as the “circumstances related to the refusal to comply.”  

Airlines should make “best efforts to disembark the person who refuses to comply” with the mask mandate, the directive says. 

The directive says that failure to comply with the mask rules at the airport “may result in the removal and denial of re-entry” of violators. 

The order takes effect at 11:59 p.m. ET Monday.  

1:24 p.m. ET, February 1, 2021

Women and White people most likely to be vaccinated in US, new CDC data indicates

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

Safeway pharmacist Preston Young administers a Moderna COVID-19 vaccination during a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds on January 13 in Santa Rosa, California.
Safeway pharmacist Preston Young administers a Moderna COVID-19 vaccination during a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds on January 13 in Santa Rosa, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

People in the US who have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine were most likely to be female, non-Hispanic White and at least 50 years old, according to data published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Monday. 

The CDC collected data from states and other jurisdictions on the demographics of individuals who initiated vaccination in the first month of distribution, between Dec. 14 and Jan. 14.

Age and gender were identified for nearly all 12.5 million individuals who received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine in the first month of distribution. Of those, about 63% were female and about 55% were at least 50 years old.

Race and ethnicity, however, were unknown for about half of the individuals vaccinated. Six jurisdictions did not report any race or ethnicity data. But of those for whom race and ethnicity were identified, about 60% were non-Hispanic White.

About 11.5% were Hispanic or Latino, 6% Asian, 5.4% Black, 2% American Indian or Alaskan Native, and less than 1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.

According to the CDC, the demographic data of those vaccinated against Covid-19 “likely reflects the demographic characteristics of the persons recommended to be vaccinated in the Phase 1a priority group,” including health care personnel and long-term care facility residents.

However, CDC also states that “more complete reporting of race and ethnicity data at the provider and jurisdictional levels is critical to ensure rapid detection of and response to potential disparities in COVID-19 vaccination.”

 Black and Hispanic people have been found to have more severe outcomes, according to CDC, and “equitable and sustainable COVID-19 vaccine administration in all populations requires focus on groups with lower vaccine receipt who might face challenges with access or vaccine hesitancy.”

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

CDC director: Covid-19 sequencing to identify new variants still not at level they need to be

From CNN’s Michael Nedelman

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks during a news conference at the Queen Theater December 8, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks during a news conference at the Queen Theater December 8, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

US efforts to ramp up coronavirus sequencing in order to identify concerning strains have jumped in recent weeks, but still aren’t at the level they need to be, according to the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

Speaking at a news briefing Monday, Walensky detailed how a number of public health, academic and commercial lab partners have put the US on track to sequence at least 7,000 samples weekly.

“This is a good start,” she said. “However, we recognize that more resources and capacity are needed to increase our country's sequencing surveillance and outbreak analytics capacity at the levels demanded by this crisis.”

Experts have previously told CNN that the US should aim to sequence 5% to 10% of cases, in line with sequencing efforts in the UK. Given cases over the past seven days, this would amount to roughly 52,000 to 104,000 sequences a week.

Currently, the lion’s share of sequences come from large commercial labs, which are currently analyzing about 3,000 samples per week and have committed to doubling that number to 6,000 by mid-February, Walensky said.

The CDC has also been scaling up a national program it launched in November through which public health labs across the country have been sending virus samples to the agency for sequencing and further analysis, she added. 

More than 470 cases of concerning variants have been reported so far in the United States – all but a handful being the B.1.1.7 strain first detected in the UK. The CDC estimates this strain is 50% more transmissible than earlier strains, and it has been found in at least 70 countries worldwide.

“The recent rise in number of variants detected in the United States is likely due at least in part to our expanded ability to sequence virus samples,” Walensky noted.

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

House panel probes Covid-19 outbreaks at US meatpacking plants 

 From CNN’s Alison Kosik

Rep. James Clyburn, Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis, has "launched an investigation into coronavirus outbreaks at meatpacking plants nationwide, which have resulted in the deaths of more than 250 employees."

Congressman Clyburn sent letters to OSHA, Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods and JBS USA, saying they are "three of the nation’s largest meatpacking companies and have each had multiple outbreaks," according to a statement from the subcommittee. 

In the letter to OSHA, Clyburn said, "OSHA failed to issue enforceable rules, respond in a timely manner to complaints, and issue meaningful fines when a company’s unsafe practices led to the deaths of employees."

And in the letters to the meatpacking plants, the chairman says "Public reports indicate that meatpacking companies … have refused to take basic precautions to protect their workers, many of whom earn extremely low wages and lack adequate paid leave, and have shown a callous disregard for workers’ health."

The statement says "The Select Subcommittee is seeking documents from OSHA and from each company related to coronavirus infections and deaths at meatpacking plants and the enforcement of worker protections by the Trump Administration."

1:05 p.m. ET, February 1, 2021

Arizona opens second state-run vaccination site at ASU's Phoenix Municipal Stadium

From CNN's Roxanne Garcia

Arizona has opened its second state run Covid-19 vaccination site at Arizona State University’s Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

According to the Arizona Department of Health (ADH), the drive-through site opened Monday morning. Although the stadium has the capacity to vaccinate 10,000 to 12,000 people a day, due to low supply, officials expect to currently vaccinate just 500 people daily. 

The 24/7 vaccination site at nearby Glendale’s State Farm Stadium which opened on January 11 began administering second doses Monday. 

More than 100,000 people have been vaccinated at that site in less than three weeks, according to the ADH.

State health officials say they expect to receive 160-170,000 new doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccine early this week.

12:40 p.m. ET, February 1, 2021

UK will protect its supply but play its part to ensure whole world can get vaccine, Health Secretary says

From CNN’s Sarah Dean

Pool
Pool

The United Kingdom will protect its supply but also play its part to ensure the whole world can get access to Covid-19 vaccines, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Monday amid global concern over vaccine nationalism and supply hoarding. 

Over half of all people in their 70s, and almost nine in 10 over-80s in the UK, have now received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, Hancock said at a Downing Street press conference.

He announced that Britain has ordered an additional 40 million vaccine doses from Valneva, which has not yet received regulatory approval, saying: “We now have over 400 million vaccine doses on order, this is obviously more than the UK population needs.”

Touching on the recent fallout with the European Union over AstraZeneca vaccine supplies, Hancock said: “My attitude has always been we protect every UK citizen as fast as we can and at the same time we are generous around the world.”

“I want to say this to our international partners, of course I'm delighted about how well this is going at home but I believe fundamentally that the vaccine rollout is a global effort,” he added.

“One of the many reasons I am so happy with the AstraZeneca contract is it not just gives us a strong supply here but because it is the only vaccine currently being deployed that is available for the whole world at cost, and because it's logistically straightforward, it can be practically deployed to the poorest parts of the world too. So we will protect UK supply and play our part to ensure the whole world can get the jab," he added.

12:33 p.m. ET, February 1, 2021

The US needs to put politics aside and get "everybody rowing in the same direction" on Covid-19, says Fauci

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks on January 21.
Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks on January 21. Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Public health doesn’t know political ideology, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at the International AIDS Society meeting Monday.

“When you’re in a public health crisis, you’ve got to pull together, everybody rowing in the same direction,” he said. “Otherwise you’re not going to stop what is now, as we all know, this historically destructive pandemic that we’re dealing with.”

The “divisive society” in the US, Fauci said, has proven that “you’ve got to separate public health measures from political ideology.”

“You can’t have arguments where wearing a mask or not wearing a mask becomes a political statement,” Fauci said. “It is a public health issue, period.”

Linda-Gail Bekker, the deputy director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre at the University of Cape Town South Africa, who was also at the conference, said that ideology gets in the way of good public health practices. 

“People’s lives and well-being have to transcend our ideology,” Bekker said.