February 11 coronavirus news

By Adam Renton, Brad Lendon, Cristiana Moisescu, Laura Smith-Spark and Rob Picheta, CNN

Updated 2:18 a.m. ET, February 12, 2021
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10:16 p.m. ET, February 11, 2021

Nevada announces timetable to end statewide Covid-19 limitations

From CNN’s Andy Rose

Restrictions on gatherings in Nevada will be relaxed starting next week under a new plan that aims to end most of those statewide rules by summer.

Starting February 15, most businesses and houses of worship will be allowed to have as many as 100 people, or 35% of normal capacity. If coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to decrease, capacity would go up to 50% on March 15.

 “If we all want to see this transition to local control, let's work together to continue decreasing our community transmission,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday evening.

Statewide capacity restrictions would go away on May 1 under the plan, but local governments will be allowed to continue to enforce their own rules.

“Even when we move to local management, specific statewide protocols will remain in place to mitigate the spread, including but not limited to the mask mandate and other social distancing requirements,” Sisolak said.
9:57 p.m. ET, February 11, 2021

FEMA deploying more than 1,000 staffers to assist with vaccination efforts

From CNN’s Nadia Kounang

Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] said Thursday that 1,154 staff members have been deployed across the country to assist with the vaccination campaign.

The agency also noted the U.S. National Guard is providing 1,171 vaccinators to 348 vaccination centers in 42 states and territories with an additional 302 interagency vaccinators deployed to Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Texas.

It also finalized a contract for 30 mobile vaccination units that would be ready for inspection and delivery beginning next week, February 15.

FEMA initially anticipated using as many as 10,000 troops, but just a fraction of that has been authorized for deployment.

8:14 p.m. ET, February 11, 2021

San Francisco files emergency court order to reopen public schools

From CNN's Dan Simon

Hundreds of people march to City Hall in San Francisco, California, on February 6, to protest against remote learning and demand schools reopen in-person education.
Hundreds of people march to City Hall in San Francisco, California, on February 6, to protest against remote learning and demand schools reopen in-person education. Santiago Mejia/The San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images

The city of San Francisco filed an emergency court order Thursday in an effort to force its public schools to open for in-person instruction, calling the school district's decision to remain closed during the coronavirus pandemic "unconscionable and unlawful" and alleging it had violated children’s constitutional rights.

The action comes on the heels of the city’s lawsuit last week against its own school district, and as others around the country are under pressure to resume classroom instruction amid the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine.

In the city's filing Thursday in San Francisco Superior Court, attorneys argued that a preliminary injunction should be granted on multiple grounds, stating that the San Francisco Unified School District’s “failure to reopen schools violates the constitutional right to attend school."

While public schools in San Francisco have remain shuttered for nearly a year, more than 100 private, parochial and charter schools have reopened, with about 15,000 students and 2,400 staff participating in in-person instruction, city attorneys said in the filing. And despite the return to classrooms, "there have been fewer than five cases of suspected in-school transmission," it said.

Earlier this week, the district reached an agreement with the teacher's union that in person teaching could resume once all staff is vaccinated. Mayor London Breed said if that agreement stands, it’s likely that schools would not resume this school year. City attorneys also took issue with the suggestion that all teachers must be vaccinated before in-class instruction could resume.

"The scientific consensus of federal, state and local health officials is that it is safe to return to in-person instruction with basic precautions, like masks, physical distance, handwashing and proper ventilation," San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement. "Vaccines are not a prerequisite."

The city argued remote learning is "having horrific mental health consequences for children," with the University of California, San Francisco Children's hospital reporting "the highest number of suicidal children seen and treated in the emergency department on record."

A court date has been scheduled for March 22.

7:05 p.m. ET, February 11, 2021

Students could see lifelong earnings cut due to extended remote learning, professor says

From CNN's Anna Sturla

A closed public school is seen in New Orleans, Louisiana, on January 5.
A closed public school is seen in New Orleans, Louisiana, on January 5. Lan Wei/Xinhua/Getty Images

Students in the US could see their lifelong earnings cut by an average of 6 to 9 %, unless schools are able to make up for learning losses incurred during the pandemic, a Stanford University professor warned on Thursday.

"We really don't know how much harm has yet been caused by this, because it's not over," said Eric Hanushek, Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

Hanushek's remarks came during Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Covid-19 Challenges and Opportunities in K-12 Education summit.

"But we do know is that there is a growing cost over time of remote learning, and the hybrid systems we have and the lack of actual in-class teaching as we knew it in 2019," Hanushek said.

Back in August 2020, Eric Hanushek estimated that students from first grade through 12th grade would, on average, lose about 3 percent of their previously predicted lifelong earnings. That was if all schools returned to normal in September.

Of course, they didn't. Now, he estimates that it will average to be between 6 to 9 percent-- though that average doesn't reflect how poorer and kids with fewer resources will likely suffer more.

Hanushek compared the pandemic to other historical moments where students were out of normal schooling for long periods of time.

Students during Argentina's school strikes or post-war Germany suffered economic losses that marked them decades later, he said.

That spells serious problems for the United States' GDP. Back in August 2020, Hanushek predicted that the U.S. GDP would be 1.5 percent lower on average every year for the rest of the 21st century.

Now, he estimates that it will be 3 to 4 percent lower for the rest of the century.

That can't be remedied by returning to 2019 education methods whenever the pandemic ends, he warned. Instead, the United States' education system has to make up for the learning loss.

6:28 p.m. ET, February 11, 2021

Biden: US on track to have vaccines for 300 million by end of July

From Betsy CNN's Klein

President Joe Biden speaks at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, on February 11.
President Joe Biden speaks at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, on February 11. Evan Vucci/AP

The US is on track to have a vaccine supply for 300 million Americans “by the end of July,” President Joe Biden said during remarks at the National Institutes of Health on Thursday, stressing the progress that he’s made since taking office three weeks ago.

“Within three weeks, round the clock work with so many people standing behind me and in front of me, we’ve now purchased enough vaccine supply to vaccinate all Americans, and now we’re working to get those vaccines into the arms of millions of people,” Biden said.

Biden also announced Thursday that the US has purchased additional Moderna and Pfizer vaccine.

“Just this afternoon, we signed the final contracts for 100 million more Moderna and 100 million more Pfizer vaccines,” he said.

Biden said that the US is moving up the delivery date for an additional 200 million vaccines to the end of July, “faster than we expected.”

Both Pfizer and Moderna agreed via contract to “expedite delivery of 100 million doses that were promised by the end of June, deliver them by the end of May. That’s a month faster – that means lives will be saved.”

Watch here:

5:23 p.m. ET, February 11, 2021

Vaccines should work against coronavirus variants, NIH lab chief tells Biden

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

President Joe Biden speaks to Dr. Barney S. Graham, left), as Dr. Anthony Fauci listens during a tour of the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, on February 11.
President Joe Biden speaks to Dr. Barney S. Graham, left), as Dr. Anthony Fauci listens during a tour of the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, on February 11. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Current coronavirus vaccines should work against variants of the virus, a top National Institutes of Health scientist told President Joe Biden Thursday.

Biden visited the NIH Viral Pathogenesis Lab to see where some of the Covid-19 vaccines were designed. Dr. Barney Graham, chief of the lab and Deputy Director of the Vaccine Research Center at NIH, showed the president several models of the virus to demonstrate how mutations affect its shape.

The genetic mutations that characterize the virus can alter parts of its surface, Graham explained. All viruses mutate, or change, as they live inside people’s bodies.

“You can imagine that some of these surfaces might change and so antibodies might not see it as well anymore," Graham said.

He showed Biden a computer program that represented the mutations as red spots on the surface of the virus.

“When we give the vaccine, it makes antibodies to the entire surface. So one red spot or two red spots or even nine red spots are not going to lose efficacy,” Graham said.

“Antibodies have a lot of places to bind. It may eventually lose efficacy, but I think we are okay for now until additional mutations are accumulated.”

4:52 p.m. ET, February 11, 2021

Covid-19 vaccines could be available to young children as early as September - Fauci says

From CNN’s Amanda Sealy

Dr. Anthony Fauci listens as President Joe Biden speaks during a tour of the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, on February 11.
Dr. Anthony Fauci listens as President Joe Biden speaks during a tour of the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, on February 11. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Covid-19 vaccines could be authorized for young children by September, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ProPublica.

“I would think by the time we get to school opening, we likely will be able to get people who come into the first grade,” Fauci said.

Pfizer and Moderna, the two companies currently with authorized Covid-19 vaccines in the US, have both begun trials for children, but started with older age groups.

Pfizer’s trial in children ages 12-15 is fully enrolled with 2,259 participants, and the company says it hopes to have results “in the early part of 2021 and from there, we will plan to finalize our study in 5-11 year olds.”

Moderna is still enrolling participants in its trial in children ages 12-18, though the company says it has seen an increase in enrollment and interest in its trial, adding that “we are on track to provide updated data around mid-year 2021.”

Moderna also has plans to start studying its vaccine on even younger children – 6 months to 11 years old – though the company says it will take longer to get that data.

“We're going to start soon a young children's study, but this will take much longer because we have to age deescalate and start at a lower dose. So we should not anticipate clinical data in 2021, but more in 2022,” said Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna, during an investor presentation last month.

4:33 p.m. ET, February 11, 2021

US pharmacy chain Rite Aid to begin Covid-19 vaccinations on Friday

From CNN's Samira Said

Angus Mordant/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Angus Mordant/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rite Aid pharmacies will begin on Friday administering Covid-19 vaccines in seven US states and jurisdictions as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, the drug store chain said in a press release Thursday. 

Chris Savarese, Rite Aid director of public relations, said at launch the store expects to receive 116,300 doses for about 1,200 Rite Aid locations, which is about 100 doses per participating store.  

"Initially, vaccine appointments will still be difficult to schedule at any provider. However, we expect to see availability of the vaccine improve over time," Heyward Donigan, Rite Aid president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

The states where Rite Aid will begin vaccinations are California, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The cities of Philadelphia and New York City, which are designated as separate jurisdictions by the federal government, are also included,

Vaccine eligibility is based on state guidelines. 

The Biden administration announced last week the federal government will begin direct shipments of coronavirus vaccines to retail pharmacies starting on February 11, with a total of 1 million doses going to about 6,500 stores before eventually expanding.

4:03 p.m. ET, February 11, 2021

Coronavirus deaths are more than three times higher in nursing homes with more Black residents, study finds

From CNN Health’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Nursing homes with more Black residents report a significantly higher share of coronavirus deaths, researchers reported this week.

The average number of coronavirus deaths was more than three times higher in nursing homes with the highest proportion of Black residents compared to those with the highest proportion of White residents, the researchers reported in the journal JAMA Network Open.

The team looked at Covid-19 cases and deaths among residents in 13,312 US nursing homes, using 2020 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data.

Nursing homes with the lowest proportion of White residents reported an average of 5.6 deaths, while those with the highest proportion of White residents reported an average of 1.7 deaths. In total, the data showed 51,606 deaths related to coronavirus, with an average of 3.9 deaths per facility. 

The team says that in part, the differences in those numbers are related to higher infection levels in counties home to facilities with more non-White residents. They note that nursing homes with more White residents had better resident health, higher star ratings, more nursing hours, and were located in counties with fewer coronavirus cases per capita.

To help stem future outbreaks, the researchers suggest that limited resources should be focused on supporting nursing homes with more non-White residents.