February 10 coronavirus news

By James Griffiths, Adam Renton, Kara Fox, Christopher Johnson and Rob Picheta, CNN

Updated 6:34 a.m. ET, February 15, 2021
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4:27 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

Double masking can significantly improve protection, CDC website now says

From CNN's Keri Enriquez

A man wears two masks as he walks in Times Square in New York on April 6.
A man wears two masks as he walks in Times Square in New York on April 6. Kena Betancur/Getty Images

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website now reflects the agency’s new mask data showing double masking can significantly improve protection. The data was published in a CDC report on Wednesday. 

The site uses colorful illustrations to outline different types of masks and educates the public on how to “Improve How Your Mask Protects You.”

It describes wearing two masks- a disposable mask underneath a cloth mask for better fit and extra protection. The CDC still encourages the use of a single cloth mask that is multi-layered.

Also suggested on the site: wearing masks with a nose wire and using a mask fitter or brace to prevent air leakage from gaps in loose masks. 

The website now instructs to the public to ensure the snug fit of a mask by cupping their hands outside the edges of a mask to make sure no air is flowing out of the sides or top.

The page tells consumers to avoid masks with gaps or exhalation valves or vents.

Beginning in January 2021, the CDC tested two simple methods, double masking and knotting, to evaluate mask performance protection. Researchers found the effectiveness of cloth and medical procedure masks can be improved by ensuring they are well fitted to the contours of the face to prevent air and particles from escaping from gaps around the mask’s edges.

Researchers found that layering a cloth mask over a medical procedural mask, such as a disposable blue surgical mask, can block 92.5% of potentially infectious particles from escaping by creating a tighter fit and eliminating leakage.

Researchers also found that overall performance of medical procedure masks alone can be improved by folding mask edges inward and knotting ear loop strings where they meet mask fabric to reduce gaps. A knotted medical mask can block 63% of aerosols that may contain coronavirus, a significant improvement from blocking only 42% of particles when unknotted.

4:01 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

New York arenas and stadiums can open this month with capacity limits and negative tests for spectators, Cuomo says

The Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2013.
The Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2013. Stan Honda/AFP via Getty Images

New York governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that large entertainment and sports venues will be able to re-open with a 10% capacity limit from from February 23.

Venues will need to get approval from the Department of Health and spectators will have to test negative for Covid-19 up to 72 hours before the event.

The department is already inspecting venues and the Barclays Center has been approved to re-open on February 23 for the Brooklyn Nets' home game against the Sacramento Kings, Cuomo's office said.

The decision builds on the pilot program in use at the Buffalo Bills' home games during the NFL playoffs, which saw a limited number of fans allowed.

"Live sports and entertainment have long been engrained in the fabric of New York and the inability to hold events has only added to the isolation we have all felt at the hands of this virus," Cuomo said in a statement.

"Thankfully, our pilot program to reopen Buffalo Bills games to fans was an unparalleled success and now we are taking that model and expanding it to other large venues across the state to not only reinvigorate local economies, but also help bring some fun and joy back into people's lives as safely as possible," he said.

Socially distanced seating, mask-wearing and contact tracing information is required for venues wishing to re-open.

Elsewhere, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced during his daily press briefing he will soon open a vaccination site at Empire Outlets for residents of Staten Island.

New York City is also hoping to partner with the state to open the Barclays Center as a Brooklyn-only vaccination site, de Blasio said. The city is also partnering with a number of organizations in an effort to vaccinate Holocaust survivors right away, he added.

3:40 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

CNN's Omar Jimenez answers your questions about schools and the Covid-19 pandemic

More schools across the US are returning to in-person learning as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is on the scene in Chicago, where teachers have voted to come back to classrooms. 

Watch:

3:08 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

All the coronavirus in the world would fit inside a cola can with room to spare, mathematician estimates

From CNN’s Chloe Adams

All the coronavirus particles in the world would easily fit inside a single can of cola, a British mathematician has estimated. 

Kit Yates, a co-director of the Centre for Mathematical Biology at the University of Bath in the UK, set out to calculate the total volume of SARS-CoV-2 currently in circulation by estimating the number of people harboring the virus, how much of it they have, and how big the virus itself is. 

He was startled by his own finding, he told CNN.

"It's astonishing to think that all the trouble, the disruption, the hardship and the loss of life that has resulted over the last year could constitute just a few mouthfuls,” Yates told CNN Wednesday.

“It's supposed to be a bit of a light-hearted look at the situation. It’s been a nice outlet for me since I am largely preoccupied by reporting on the pandemic as part of my role on Independent SAGE here in the UK,” he said.

Independent SAGE – the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies - is a group of scientists who provide independent advice to the UK government and public amid the crisis. 

Yates used statistical and epidemiological modelling by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, an independent global health research center at the University of Washington in Seattle, which estimates the number of people infected with the virus each day at around 3 million. 

Using data from a pre-print study carried out by scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and the University of California at Berkeley in the USA, Yates calculated peak viral loads range from one billion to 100 billion virus particles per gram, with estimates of the diameter range of SARS-CoV-2 80 to 120 nanometres. One nanometre is a billionth of a meter. 

4:14 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

Germany’s partial lockdown extended until March, but states will decide on school openings themselves 

From Claudia Otto in Berlin

A closed and empty salon is seen in Dortmund, Germany, on January 19.
A closed and empty salon is seen in Dortmund, Germany, on January 19. Ina Fassbender/AFP via Getty Images

Germany’s partial national lockdown will be extended till March 7, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the state prime ministers of the 16 federal states agreed on Wednesday evening.

Officials made an exception over the opening of the schools and childcare centres, which has proven to be a controversial subject. The government will leave it up to federal the states to handle those issues themselves.

Merkel said at a press conference: "I have had certain ideas of my own leading up to March 1, but we live in a federal state, there are very important state sovereignties, so the states will decide the school openings.”

Merkel added that even though the number of new infection is low, at only 8,072, the decision to keep the current lockdown restrictions came because of concern over the spreading of the new coronavirus mutation, which she said could lead to a serious aggravation of the situation.

"With the uncertainty of the spread of viral mutations, the next loosening of restrictions can take place at a stable seven-day incidence of no more than 35 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants," Merkel said.

"This next opening stage should include the opening of retail limited to one person per 20 square meters, in addition to museums and galleries and the opening of the still closed body services."

Hairdressers will be allowed to open from March 1 with hygiene measures in place. 

2:11 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

White House announces new mass vaccination centers in Texas

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

The White House Covid-19 response team announced it would be building three new mass vaccination sites in the state of Texas, which will be capable of administering more than 10,000 shots a day. 

“Today I’m pleased to announce that we’ll partner with the state of Texas to build three new major community vaccination centers, in Dallas, Arlington and Houston, communities hit hard by the pandemic,” Jeff Zients, Coordinator of the Covid-19 response team said at a briefing on Wednesday. 

The sites in Houston and Arlington are at two NFL stadiums, the NRG Stadium and AT&T Stadium respectively.

In an interview that aired before the Super Bowl on Sunday, US President Joe Biden said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had offered all the NFL Stadiums up as vaccination sites. The vaccination site in South Dallas will be at Fair Park, home to the Texas State Fair. 

“Together these sites will be capable of administering more than 10,000 shots in arms a day,” Zients said. He added that federal teams would be deployed to work with the state and local jurisdictions on this effort.

Zients said they expect the sites to begin administering shots the week of February 22.

1:51 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

Fully vaccinated people can skip Covid quarantines, CDC says

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

People who have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus -- meaning they have recieved two doses of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine-- can skip quarantine if they are exposed to someone infected with the virus, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

“Fully vaccinated persons who meet criteria will no longer be required to quarantine following an exposure to someone with COVID-19,” the CDC said in updates to its webpage with guidance on vaccination.

“Vaccinated persons with an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they meet all of the following criteria,” the CDC added.

The criteria: They must be fully vaccinated – having had both shots with at least two weeks having passed since the second shot. But the CDC says protection may wear off after three months, so people who had their last shot three months ago or more should quarantine if they are exposed. They also should quarantine if they show symptoms, the CDC said.

“This recommendation to waive quarantine for people with vaccine-derived immunity aligns with quarantine recommendations for those with natural immunity, which eases implementation,” the CDC said.

People who have been vaccinated should still watch for symptoms for 14 days after they have been exposed to someone who is infected, the CDC said.

“At this time, vaccinated persons should continue to follow current guidance to protect themselves and others, including wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, avoiding crowds, avoiding poorly ventilated spaces, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands often, following CDC travel guidance, and following any applicable workplace or school guidance, including guidance related to personal protective equipment use or SARS-CoV-2 testing,” the agency said.

1:43 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

PAHO sees "improving trends" in a pandemic in the Americas

From CNN's Stefano Pozzebon in Bogota, Colombia 

The Pan American Health Organization has registered improving developments in the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, PAHO Director Dr. Carissa Etienne said on Wednesday.

“After many weeks of increases in Covid cases and deaths, we are starting to see improving trends in some of the more heavily affected countries, including the US and Brazil. There are also positive signs in Panama, Costa Rica, Chile, and Argentina,” Etienne said during PAHO’s weekly online briefing.

Etienne also warned that the trends are “cause for hope, but not for celebration,” and that the number of Covid-related deaths continued to increase in the Americas over the last seven days.

Particularly concerning are hotspots in Central America and the Amazon tri-border region between Brazil, Colombia, and Peru, Etienne also said. 

1:26 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

Boris Johnson welcomes WHO support for Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and UK's dosing regimen

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson poses for a photograph with a vial of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at Wockhardt's pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Wrexham, Wales, on November 30.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson poses for a photograph with a vial of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at Wockhardt's pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Wrexham, Wales, on November 30. Paul Ellis/WPA Pool/Getty Images

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has welcomed the World Health Organization's backing for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, and for the UK's spaced-out dosing strategy that had been the subject of intense debate in medical circles.

Johnson encouraged any eligible Brits who hadn't taken up an offer of a vaccine to do so, as he confirmed Britain has inoculated more than 13 million people -- about a fifth of its population.

"Let me stress that these vaccines are safe and effective, and it was good to see the World Health Organisation today confirm its support for the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine for use in everyone over the age of 18 and, obviously, anyone over 65," Johnson said at a press briefing.

The WHO earlier recommended the vaccine for use, including for the elderly, after some countries recommended it not be given to over 65s until more data is released.

Dr. Joachim Hombach, executive secretary of WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization said "the immune response in people above 65 is almost the same as in younger people, and this makes us very confident."

At his briefing, Johnson highlighted the WHO "also supporting the 12-week interval between the two doses," the unorthodox approach the UK has followed. "Indeed, they say the longer interval provides greater protection," Johnson said.