February 3 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton and Jo Shelley, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, February 4, 2021
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2:02 p.m. ET, February 3, 2021

Federal government has partnered with 21 pharmacy chains to administer Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN’s Deidre McPhillips

Across the country, 21 pharmacy chains have partnered with the federal government to administer Covid-19 vaccines.

The first phase of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program is scheduled to start next week on Feb. 11, as select retail pharmacies receive a limited supply of vaccine directly from the federal government to vaccinate priority groups.

The retail pharmacies participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program vary by state and jurisdiction. Most states have one or two partners.

Walmart, including Sam’s Club, is a federal partner in 21 states; Walgreens, including Duane Reade, is a federal partner in 14 states; CVS, including Long’s, is a federal partner in 11 states.

Additionally, Rite Aid, Kroger, Albertsons, and Medicine Shoppe and LeaderNET of Cardinal Health have each partnered in at least five states, along with their subsidiaries.

As the program expands, more partners will be added in each jurisdiction, Chris Krese, a spokesperson from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, told CNN. 

1:57 p.m. ET, February 3, 2021

Nearly 34 million Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in US, CDC says

From CNN's Michael Nedelman

A nurse gives a Covid-19 vaccine shot to a patient at CSUN Covid-19 vaccination center in Northridge, California on February 2.
A nurse gives a Covid-19 vaccine shot to a patient at CSUN Covid-19 vaccination center in Northridge, California on February 2. Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images

Nearly 34 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 33,878,254 total doses have been administered – about 61% of the 55,943,800 doses distributed. That’s about 1.1 million more administered doses reported since yesterday.

The pace of vaccinations has steadily risen over time. 

On Dec. 30, the seven-day average was about 255,000 shots per day.

That number jumped to 359,000 on Jan. 6; 710,000 on Jan. 13; 892,000 on Jan. 20; 1.16 million on Jan. 27; and now 1.32 million on Feb. 3.

At the current rate, every adult in the US could be fully vaccinated in about a year.

Assuming 75% of US adults must be fully vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, the US could reach this threshold around Halloween.

Just over 8% of the US population – more than 27 million people – have now received at least one dose of the vaccine, and about 6.4 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 given on the day reported. 

2:59 p.m. ET, February 3, 2021

Spain's coronavirus death toll tops 60,000 

From CNN’s Duarte Mendonca

Spain has now recorded more than 60,000 coronavirus-related deaths during the pandemic, according to Ministry of Health data released on Wednesday. 

The country recorded another 565 deaths on Wednesday, bringing the total to 60,370, the data shows. 

The country also reported 12,544 new daily cases, bringing the total to at least 2,883,465. 

As the country continues to fight the pandemic, Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias announced Wednesday that the country will receive just over 1.8 million doses of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine in February.

The Health Ministry also announced nearly half a million people have received both doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

The country recorded another 565 deaths on Wednesday, bringing the total to 60,370, the data shows.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated the daily death toll was 1,991. It was 565.

1:47 p.m. ET, February 3, 2021

UK likely past "this peak" of pandemic, says England's Chief Medical Officer

From CNN’s Sarah Dean and Samantha Tapfumaneyi 

England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty
England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty Pool

The UK is likely past “this peak” of the coronavirus pandemic, England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty told a Downing Street press conference on Wednesday.

Asked whether it’s fair to say the UK is now past the peak, Whitty said: "I think that most of my colleagues think that we are past the peak.” 

“Now that doesn't mean you can never have another peak but at this point in time provided people continue to follow the guidelines we're on a downward slope of cases, of hospitalizations and of deaths in all four nations in the United Kingdom. So I think we do think at this point, this peak, at least, we are past," Whitty explained.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK government hopes to set out a route map on Feb. 22 for exiting its current national lockdown. "It feels to me at the moment we will be going down in tiers nationally," Johnson said, but he warned "that could change".

Almost 9 in 10 people aged 75 and over have received a first dose a Covid-19 vaccine in England, the Department of Health said on Wednesday

But Johnson said Feb. 22nd would be the earliest the government will be able to set out "in as much detail as possible" how they intend to lift some restrictions.

He reiterated that March 8 is the earliest the UK can look at school re-openings. 

Johnson also said the government would make a further announcement on hotel quarantines on Thursday.

1:18 p.m. ET, February 3, 2021

41% of Americans approve of how US is handling pandemic, Pew survey finds

From CNN’s Christopher Rios

About 41% of Americans approve of how the country is handling the coronavirus pandemic, a new survey from the Pew Research Center finds. Asked simply whether the country is doing a bad or a good job, 58% of those polled came down in the “bad” category.

“In the U.S., 67% of those on the ideological right say the American handling of COVID-19 has been good, while just 13% on the ideological left say the same – a 54-point difference,” Pew said. The survey was conducted in December.

The survey of 4,000 adults in the US, Germany, France and the UK also found that 74% of Americans say the pandemic is affecting their everyday lives a great deal or a fair amount, up from 67% in June.

“Only in Germany do fewer than half of those surveyed say the coronavirus has changed their life, while 52% say their life has not changed much or not changed at all,” Pew said.

Germans also overwhelmingly approve of their country’s handling of the pandemic, with 77% rating it as “good.” In France, 54% of those polled approve of their country’s handling and in Britain, 48% did.

But people in all four countries are optimistic about future pandemics. In the US, 67% say they feel optimistic about the country’s ability to handle future crises. In Germany, 77% do, 68% do in the UK and 60% do in France.

1:18 p.m. ET, February 3, 2021

11 known cases of UK variant in New Jersey, governor says

From CNN's Ganesh Setty

There are 11 known cases of the highly-contagious UK variant of the novel coronavirus in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday. 

State health commissioner Judy Persichilli had announced the discovery of two cases on Jan. 22.

Dr. Eddy Bresnitz, New Jersey’s Covid-19 response medical advisor, defended the governor’s decision to ease indoor capacity restrictions, saying that such cases amount to only a “handful” both in the state and nationwide, that the pace of vaccinations will only continue to increase, and that the ease in restrictions is a “minor change…all things considered.”

The state department of health reported 2,021 new positive Covid-19 cases and 52 additional virus related deaths Wednesday, raising the statewide cumulative totals to 631,309 and 19,506, respectively, according to its Covid-19 dashboard. There are currently 2,986 New Jerseyans hospitalized, of whom 525 are in critical care.

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

12:52 p.m. ET, February 3, 2021

Pope Francis gets second dose of Covid-19 vaccine 

From CNN’s Hada Messia

Pope Francis received his second dose of a Covid-19 vaccine today, a source close to the Pope told CNN.

It comes 21 days after Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni announced on Jan. 14 that Francis and Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, had received a first dose of the vaccine.

1:24 p.m. ET, February 3, 2021

South Carolina expands vaccine eligibility to people 65 and older

From CNN's Tina Burnside and Jennifer Hauser 

Vials of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine are seen at an assisted living facility in Sumter, South Carolina, on January 26.
Vials of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine are seen at an assisted living facility in Sumter, South Carolina, on January 26. Micah Green/Bloomberg via Getty Images

South Carolina is expanding Covid-19 vaccine eligibility to individuals 65 and older regardless of health status or preexisting conditions, Gov. Henry McMaster and the state's Department of Health announced in a statement on Wednesday.

Senior vaccine seekers aged 65 and up can begin scheduling Covid-19 vaccine appointments on Feb. 8. 

“We have a moral and ethical duty to first vaccinate the South Carolinians who are at the highest risk of dying from the virus,” McMaster said.  

Officials says although state supply remains limited, the increased vaccine allocations from the federal government and a streamlined, statewide vaccination plan, has allowed for the expansion of the number of South Carolinians eligible to receive vaccine, according to the statement. 

Many across the state have been pushing for teachers to get the vaccine but the governor emphasized the priority, based on supply, is getting older citizens vaccinated first, the statement said.

“At this time, placing a younger person between a senior citizen and what could be their lifesaving shot would be unconscionable and irresponsible. Today’s action will save lives and allow our teachers to be vaccinated next," McMaster said. 

To date, South Carolina has received about 777,250 vaccines and has administered 439,888 shots.

12:44 p.m. ET, February 3, 2021

Biden administration has sent $1.7 billion to states and others to aid community vaccination efforts

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

As of Wednesday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has provided more than $1.7 billion to 27 states, localities, tribes and territories to aid the vaccination effort, White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said. FEMA has also assigned more than 600 staff to the effort with more than half of that staff deployed directly to the vaccination sites across the country. 

Zients said the US Department of Defense will dedicate substantial personnel and resources to help manage many of these new sites. 

The Biden administration also announced that the federal government will partner with the state of California to launch two new community vaccination centers in communities that have been hard hit by the pandemic. 

One of the centers will be in East Oakland and the second on the east side of Los Angeles. Both are predominantly Latino and Hispanic communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.  

The center on the east side of Los Angeles will be on the campus of California State University. The other will be at Oakland Coliseum. The centers will be primarily staffed by the federal government, according to the 

“These sites in California are just the beginning,” Zients said. “We are working with, in partnership in states across the country to stand up new sites, and we'll have more to say on that in the coming weeks.”

The Biden administration has pledged to stand up 100 FEMA-supported community vaccination sites by the end of the month.

So far they have increased vaccine supply to states, tribes and territories by more than 20%, Zients said. There’s been over 1.3 million shots per day between Jan. 27 and Feb. 2.