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

California overtakes New York as US state with most Covid-19 deaths 

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Funeral service workers 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 service workers 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 has surpassed New York as the US state with the highest number of Covid-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

As of Wednesday, California has reported a total of 45,351 Covid-19 fatalities -- eclipsing New York's total of 45,312 deaths.

The grim designation comes after a catastrophic surge of new infections over the holidays in California led to a record wave of deaths that has lingered into February, even as new Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations have fallen in recent weeks. On Wednesday, state data showed a rolling daily average of nearly 500 deaths.

“This is a heart-wrenching reminder that Covid-19 is a deadly virus, and we mourn alongside every Californian who has suffered the tragic loss of a loved one during this pandemic,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Though California has the highest number of total deaths, many other states have a higher rate of deaths per capita. New Jersey has the highest rate, followed by New York, which was hit hard early in the pandemic.

California saw a surge in new cases in the fall, soaring from a total of 1 million just before Thanksgiving to more than 3 million by mid-January.

The mounting death toll in California comes despite the state’s accelerated vaccine rollout. “Deaths continue to be devastating,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday at the opening of the state’s largest mass vaccination center at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, which will administer up to 15,000 doses each day.

10:39 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

Los Angeles will temporarily close all vaccination sites because it has run out of vaccines

From CNN's Sarah Moon

Hundreds line up to get Covid-19 vaccine shots at Dodger Stadium on Monday, February 8, in Los Angeles.
Hundreds line up to get Covid-19 vaccine shots at Dodger Stadium on Monday, February 8, in Los Angeles. Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Los Angeles will temporarily close five Covid-19 vaccination sites, including one of the nation’s largest at Dodger Stadium, due to a lack of vaccine doses, Mayor Eric Garcetti said on Wednesday.

“We don’t have enough vaccines,” Garcetti said at a news conference, as he explained that the vaccine doses aren’t arriving soon enough.

“We’re vaccinating people faster than new vials are arriving here in Los Angeles and I’m very concerned,” he said. “Our vaccine supply is uneven, it’s unpredictable, and too often, inequitable.”

The sites will shut on Friday and Saturday, and Garcetti says he hopes to reopen them by Tuesday or Wednesday.

“These closures, unfortunately, are inevitable,” he said, adding that the city will have exhausted its supply of the Moderna vaccine for first dose appointments.

While the city has been administering about 13,000 doses a day, only 16,000 new doses arrived this week. So far, the city has administered more than 293,000 doses across the five sites.

9:43 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

Biden's 100-day plan to reopen schools meets with a messy reality

From CNN's Gregory Krieg, Katie Lobosco, MJ Lee and Sara Murray

A teacher works with a student with a plexiglass shield dividing them at Freedom Preparatory Academy on February 10, in Provo, Utah.
A teacher works with a student with a plexiglass shield dividing them at Freedom Preparatory Academy on February 10, in Provo, Utah. George Frey/Getty Images

President Joe Biden's pledge to reopen most American schools within his first 100 days in office is in danger of going off the rails as teachers' unions hold firm on their demands for new safety measures amid conflicting messages from the administration and public health leaders.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki was pressed again on Wednesday to give a clear definition of what the administration would consider a successful return, after suggesting 24 hours earlier that "teaching at least one day a week in the majority of schools by day 100" could be the bar.

This time around, Psaki said it was Biden's "objective ... for all schools to reopen, to stay open, to be open five days a week, for kids to be learning," but did not commit to a clear benchmark.

Nearly a year into the unprecedented national experiment in remote learning, millions of children are still at home, with no expected return date. Studies show them falling behind, with low-income or Black and Latino children hurting the worst -- but the science is unclear on how, or when, they can safely return to classes, even as some teachers get vaccinated and schools districts work to fit classrooms for reopening.

There is scant information on the effects of bringing students back together, in close quarters, could have on the communities they reenter after leaving the building. And Though Biden promised to nationalize the response, some of the messaging from the White House has added to the confusion.

Read more:

8:58 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

Federal authorities investigate distribution of fake N95 masks

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez

US federal authorities are investigating the distribution of counterfeit 3M N95 masks sold to hospitals and medical facilities nationwide, according to Homeland Security officials.

“We’re seeing a significant increase over the last three to four months,” said Steve Francis, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center director. “This is our biggest fear.” 

The sale of fake personal protective equipment, which have also gone to health care providers, has been an ongoing issue during the pandemic amid pent-up demand for supplies -- especially counterfeit N95 masks which are misleadingly labeled as 3M products. 

There are active investigations in more than five states, and that number is expected to increase, Francis said. 3M has worked with authorities in multiple states to confirm that the counterfeit masks are not real 3M products.

The Associated Press first reported on the government’s investigation. 

The counterfeit products have come into health systems in part through fake solicitations. “These are businesses or individuals that are acting as if they’re medical supplies and acting as if they’re real, legitimate products,” explained Special Agent Brian Weinhaus of Homeland Security Investigations. 

“There’s so much demand for these products… they’re going outside of their normal channels to try and find them. When they see something that appears to be legitimate, they’re jumping it.” 

 Here's how to identify a fake mask:

8:09 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

CDC releases new guidance on Covid-19 vaccine second doses

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Educational staff at Kettering City Schools receive the Covid-19 vaccine as a part of Ohios Phase 1B vaccine distribution in Dayton, Ohio, on February 10.
Educational staff at Kettering City Schools receive the Covid-19 vaccine as a part of Ohios Phase 1B vaccine distribution in Dayton, Ohio, on February 10. Megan Jelinger/AFP/Getty Images

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance on Wednesday offering "best practices" for managing second doses of Covid-19 vaccine and making sure people get their second shots so that they are fully vaccinated.

The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use in the United States are administered as two doses, 21 and 28 days apart, respectively.

"If it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval, the second dose may be scheduled for administration up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose," according to the new guidance posted to the CDC's website.

The guidance notes that "jurisdictions and providers must carefully manage vaccine inventory to ensure completion of the vaccine series. At present, jurisdictions receive sufficient supply of doses to vaccinate all persons who receive a first dose."

Local health officials were told on Tuesday during a phone call with the White House that the guidance provided recommendations around what to do if patients miss their second-dose appointments, Lori Tremmel Freeman, chief executive officer of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, told CNN on Wednesday.

"This guidance that is coming out is intended to share how health departments -- and others who are distributing the vaccine -- can deal with people who miss their second appointments and how long they should save that vaccine for that patient," Freeman said.

"This guidance is meant to provide some protocols that health departments can use so that they can address missed appointments."

8:13 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

Canadian province of Newfoundland goes from Covid-free sanctuary to "circuit-breaker" type lockdown

From CNN’s Paula Newton

Newfoundland is facing its largest Covid-19 outbreak so far — a chilling discovery for a province that sacrificed large parts of its economy and prohibited most visitors from entering the past 10 months, in the hopes of containing any major outbreaks.

The province's chief medical officer, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, said Wednesday that "complacency" had allowed case numbers to spiral:

"I believe that going so long with low case counts of Covid led to complacency and we are now seeing the repercussions."

Canada’s easternmost province reported just 53 new Covid-19 cases Wednesday for a population of about a half million people. Still, the province is shell-shocked and has imposed a strict "circuit-breaker" lockdown.

Adding to the 53 new cases are 32 presumptive cases that have yet to be confirmed. The province now has 110 active cases of Covid-19 and that is enough for officials to shutdown parts of the province including widespread closures in the St. John’s metro area, Newfoundland’s capital.

New daily case numbers are expected to rise for days to come as the provincial officials warn residents of a ‘rough period’ ahead.'

New daily case numbers are expected to rise for days to come as the provincial officials warn residents of a ‘rough period’ ahead.

“This is what Covid does, it’s a bit disappointing to see the number of contacts that people have had. I think we really need to do better when it comes to reducing those contacts,” said Dr. Fitzgerald.

All schools in the St. John’s area are now closed for at least 2 weeks, non-essential businesses have been closed to in person shopping and dine-in restaurants must close. In addition, Newfoundland residents have been told to stay home when possible and avoid any private, social gatherings.

Upwards of 1,500 people have been told to self-isolate and officials say they are investigating hundreds of possible contacts.

The outbreak comes at a crucial time for the province, as residents go to the polls to elect a new premier in just a few days. But public health officials say the election will not be postponed and that they will ‘find a way’ to keep everyone safe during the vote.

6:09 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

South African variant of Covid-19 detected in California for first time

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Two cases of the South African Covid-19 variant have been detected in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday. Both cases were identified in the Bay Area, one in Santa Clara and the other in Alameda County.

The discovery of the South African strain is in addition to 159 cases of the UK variant and 1203 incidents of the West Coast variants identified thus far in the Golden State.

Thirty labs across the state are working to sequence genomes and potentially uncover additional cases of variants, Newsom said.

The variant of the coronavirus first identified in South Africa could be resistant to vaccines and raise the bar for herd immunity, health officials have said. The first two confirmed cases of the variant in the US were detected last month in South Carolina.

4:54 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

New Mexico will end mandatory quarantine for travelers from high-risk states

From CNN’s Andy Rose

As the rate of new coronavirus cases drops in most of the state, New Mexico’s governor says it will be dropping its mandatory quarantine rule for most out-of-state travelers.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) said in a press release Wednesday:

“New Mexicans have sacrificed to make this recent progress, and I encourage all New Mexicans and visitors to our state to maintain vigilance in the coming weeks.”  

The current quarantine rules will expire Thursday. They required that people coming to New Mexico from 48 other states isolate for 14 days after arriving.

Only travel from Hawaii was exempted from the rule, since that state has a positivity rate of lower than 80 cases per million residents.

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.