February 5 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Jo Shelley, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 0542 GMT (1342 HKT) February 6, 2021
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5:48 p.m. ET, February 5, 2021

California surpasses 43,000 Covid-19 deaths

From CNN's Jessica Myers

Funeral director Kristy Oliver and funeral attendant Sam Deras load the casket of a person who died after contracting Covid-19 into a hearse at East County Mortuary on January 15 in El Cajon, California
Funeral director Kristy Oliver and funeral attendant Sam Deras load the casket of a person who died after contracting Covid-19 into a hearse at East County Mortuary on January 15 in El Cajon, California Mario Tama/Getty Images

California surpassed 43,000 total Covid-19-related deaths Friday, becoming only the second state to reach the grim milestone since the start of the pandemic as it continues to see a wave of deaths following a catastrophic surge of infections over the holidays.

The somber new tally came on the same day the state announced it had administered its four millionth vaccine dose, ramping up efforts to administer the shots in a race against new coronavirus variants and jump-starting plans toward reopening.

California has administered vaccines “far more than any other state,” Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday. Nearly 1 million shots were given last week and over 1 million people were vaccinated in California this week alone, he said.

“Speed, equity, and safety continue to be our top priorities,” Newsom said in a statement.

This news comes after 558 more fatalities were reported in the Golden State Friday, putting it on track to potentially surpass hard-hit New York with the highest number of Covid-19-related deaths in the US as soon as next week.

To note: These numbers were released by the California Department of Public Health and may not line up exactly in real-time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

4:56 p.m. ET, February 5, 2021

Houston is prioritizing Covid-19 vaccine for underserved communities

From CNN’s Chuck Johnston and Chris Boyette

A nurse prepares a dose of Covid-19 vaccine in Houston, Texas, on January 3.
A nurse prepares a dose of Covid-19 vaccine in Houston, Texas, on January 3. Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle/AP

The Houston Health Department announced Friday it will continue to prioritize its Covid-19 vaccine supply for “vulnerable populations” and “underserved communities” as it receives additional vaccine allotments and will add new appointments to its Area Agency on Aging waitlist for the week of Feb. 8.

All appointments are currently full based on supply, the health department said, but it received 9,000 additional doses Friday and expects 1,600 Monday. 

Of those additional doses, 6,391 are planned for the department’s Area Agency on Aging, 3,850 for providers in underserved communities, and 359 for previously scheduled appointments, according to the department.

The health department also said it continues text message and email outreach to follow-up with those who need to make second dose appointments.

3:43 p.m. ET, February 5, 2021

Belgium extends lockdown to April 1

From CNN's James Frater

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo speaks during a press conference in Brussels on February 5.
Prime Minister Alexander De Croo speaks during a press conference in Brussels on February 5. Frederic Sierakowski/Pool/Belga Mag/AFP/Getty Images

Belgium's lockdown measures have been extended to April 1, but some restrictions will be relaxed from Feb. 13, the prime minister announced at a news conference today.

Hairdressers will be allowed to reopen on Feb. 13 under strict conditions, and other non-medical contact professions such as beauticians and tattoo artists can reopen from March 1. Bars and restaurants, which have been closed since last October, will remain closed, as well as other communal facilities.

“The coronavirus situation in our country has been fairly stable since the beginning of December, we have seen that hospital admissions are decreasing, and the number of deaths is decreasing, but on the other hand, we see that the number of confirmed infections remains approximately at the same level,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said.

De Croo attributed the stability in cases to people following the rules, and said they will have to be "particularly careful with the situation" if measures are relaxed.

"We have asked the experts to lay out a clear path, taking into account not only the number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths, but also the state of the vaccinations, in particular of vulnerable groups,” De Croo added. 

Belgian authorities clarified in a statement that while the extension could be in place until April 1, it “does not mean that no interim decisions or revisions are possible.”

3:38 p.m. ET, February 5, 2021

Greece tightens Covid-19 restrictions in parts of the country following case increase

From CNN’s Chris Liakos and Duarte Mendonça

People make their way past a meat market in Athens, Greece, on February 2.
People make their way past a meat market in Athens, Greece, on February 2. Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty Images

Greece will tighten Covid-19 lockdown restrictions in parts of the country, including the capital Athens and the country’s second largest city, Thessaloniki, the Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias announced on Friday. 

The new measures will begin on Saturday and last until Feb. 15, following an increase in daily cases in both regions this week.

The new measures include a strict weekend curfew starting at 6 p.m. local time, and the closing of high schools, sending students back to e-learning, Hardalias said.

He added that only grocery stores, supermarkets, pharmacies and bakeries will remain open during the weekend.

3:25 p.m. ET, February 5, 2021

Here's where Covid-19 relief stands in Congress and what happens next

From CNN's Ted Barrett, Paul LeBlanc and Clare Foran

The budget resolution that passed in both chambers of Congress is not the Covid-19 relief bill. It simply sets the stage for Democrats to be able to use a process known as "budget reconciliation" to pass the relief bill on a party-line vote, possibly in late February or March, after the impeachment trial of former President Trump is complete in the Senate.

Embedded in the budget resolution are reconciliation instructions for multiple congressional committees to formally draft and approve legislation on things like funds for vaccine production and distribution, unemployment insurance, stimulus checks and more.

The House already passed the budget measure earlier in the week. But because it was amended in the Senate forcing the House to revote on it Friday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that next week, they will begin working on the specifics of the bill, and predicted that the House will send a bill to the Senate "hopefully in a two week period of time," so that "this will be done long before the due date" of the expiration of unemployment insurance in March.

Biden has said he is willing to go forward without the support of Republicans, but he's also stressed that he's willing to make certain concessions if it will earn bipartisan support.

A Biden aide told CNN Friday the Senate's passage of the resolution is a "positive step forward" and that the White House is "looking forward to continued progress to getting assistance to the American people."

Congressional Democrats have also made clear that they think time is of the essence on the proposal, and a deep divergence remains between Biden's $1.9 trillion and the $618 billion GOP proposal.

The counterproposal still includes $160 billion to battle the pandemic, but Republican senators want to send smaller, more targeted relief checks and only extend unemployment benefits through June, not September.

Reconciliation has been used many times by both parties to pass controversial legislation over the objections of the minority party, including then-President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act in 2010 and Trump's sweeping tax cuts in 2017.

3:20 p.m. ET, February 5, 2021

NFL says it will use every team stadium as a Covid-19 vaccination site

From CNN's David Close

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

National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell has written President Biden to commit the use of every team stadium as a mass vaccination site.

Goodell’s letter, addressed to Biden at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. and obtained by CNN, pledges that the league will work with federal and regional health officials to ensure each of the 32 NFL teams’ participation in the effort. 

“The NFL and our 32 member clubs are committed to doing our part to ensure that vaccines are as widely accessible in our communities as possible," Goodell wrote. “To that end, each NFL team will make its stadium available for mass vaccinations of the general public in coordination with local, state, and federal health officials."

Goodell added: “We can expand our efforts to stadiums across the nation more effectively because many of our clubs have offered their facilities previously as Covid testing centers as well as election sites over the past several months.”

Seven NFL clubs have already activated their stadiums or nearby sites as vaccination centers.

The teams are:

  • Arizona Cardinals (State Farm Stadium)
  • Atlanta Falcons (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)
  • Baltimore Ravens (M&T Bank Stadium)
  • Carolina Panthers (Bank of America Stadium)
  • Houston Texans (NRG Park)
  • Miami Dolphins (Hard Rock Stadium)
  • New England Patriots (Gillette Stadium)
3:16 p.m. ET, February 5, 2021

Congress passes key step to allow Democrats to pass Covid-19 relief without threat of GOP filibuster

From CNN's Ted Barrett, Paul LeBlanc and Clare Foran

The U.S. Capitol is seen in Washington, D.C., on February 5.
The U.S. Capitol is seen in Washington, D.C., on February 5. Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The House has passed the Senate-amended budget resolution by a final vote of 219-209. 

Rep. Jared Golden was the only Democrat to vote against the resolution. No Republicans voted for it.

Both chambers of Congress have now passed a budget resolution, a key procedural step that sets up the ability for Democrats to pass President Biden's sweeping $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package without the threat of a filibuster from Republicans who oppose it.

The Senate passed the budget resolution early Friday morning 51-50 on a party line vote after Vice President Kamala Harris showed up at the Capitol to break the tie.

The House passed the resolution later in the day Friday. The House had already passed the budget measure earlier in the week, but because it was amended in the Senate it needed to go back to the House for a final vote.

Passage in the Senate followed hours of voting on amendments in an exhausting ritual known as a "vote-a-rama," when senators can theoretically offer as many amendments to the budget resolution as they desire.

Those amendments largely serve as a way for each party to force the other side on the record about controversial issues, and most of the GOP amendments were defeated.

But the process also highlighted some bipartisan consensus. One of the more significant amendments came from a bipartisan group of senators, led by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, that would prevent "upper income taxpayers" from being eligible to receive $1,400 Covid relief checks.

While the amendment was adopted 99-1, it is not binding and does not mean that the eligibility requirements will be changed in the final Covid relief bill. But it expresses broad consensus to make the changes.

3:11 p.m. ET, February 5, 2021

One million Moderna Covid-19 doses will be allocated to US pharmacies next week

From CNN's Samira Said

Vials of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine sit at a walk up vaccination site in San Francisco on February 3.
Vials of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine sit at a walk up vaccination site in San Francisco on February 3. David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The US government is expected to begin shipping Covid-19 directly to pharmacies next week, with one million doses of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine being allocated for the initial rollout.

"The program, for the first week, is going to get one million doses of the Moderna vaccine," Kathleen Jaeger, vice president of pharmacy care and patient advocacy for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, said Friday at virtual press briefing.

The Biden administration announced this week that the vaccine rollout, called the federal retail pharmacy program, will launch on Feb. 11. The nation's pharmacies have the capacity to administer 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine in 30 days, but will need enough doses to do so, according the NACDS.

"Ultimately NACDS member pharmacies can meet and exceed the 100 million vaccinations in a month threshold, yet it's important to understand that the supply of vaccines remains the rate limiting factor in the vaccination effort," Steven Anderson, the organization's president and CEO, said.

The critical issue right now is the limited supply of vaccine.

"It's not vaccination sites, and it's not vaccinators, it is the supply of the vaccine," Jaeger said.

Jeager said the doses provided to pharmacies as part of the program will come directly from the federal government, not from supply provided to states. She said the program will expand as more supply becomes available and additional coronavirus vaccines are authorized for emergency use.

Pharmacies will still be required to follow state-level eligibility requirements, which Jaeger said is a point of confusion in the nationwide rollout.

"As of the beginning of the week, we had about six states still in Phase 1A, we had about 42 in Phase 1B, and we had three in 1C," she said. "The big issue is that the administration is asking all states to move to 65 and above. Whether or not those states and local jurisdictions do so — that will be up to them."

2:20 p.m. ET, February 5, 2021

Madrid detects first case of Brazilian coronavirus variant

From CNN’s Al Goodman in Spain and Duarte Mendonça in Portugal 

The first case of the Brazilian coronavirus variant has been detected in the Madrid region, Madrid's health officials confirmed in a statement on Friday.

“This is a 44-year-old man from Brazil, who has entered Spain through the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport,” the statement said.

“The man had a negative PCR at origin, but upon arrival at the airport from Madrid, an antigen test was performed with a positive result. Subsequently, he was transferred to the Gregorio Marañón General University Hospital where he underwent a PCR with positive results,” the statement added.

The confirmed case comes two days after Spain introduced restrictions on flights from Brazil and South Africa, in an effort to control the spread of new variants of the virus.