February 12 coronavirus news

By Rob Picheta, Tara John, Cristiana Moisescu, Hannah Strange, Brett McKeehan and Brad Lendon, CNN

Updated 12:03 a.m. ET, February 13, 2021
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3:05 p.m. ET, February 12, 2021

CDC releases new recommendations on reopening schools, with five key strategies

From CNN Health's Elizabeth Cohen and Jacqueline Howard

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is seen in Atlanta on December 10, 2020.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is seen in Atlanta on December 10, 2020. Jason Armond /Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday released guidelines for reopening schools, including “five key mitigation strategies” for returning to in-person school safely.

Those five key strategies are: the universal and correct wearing of masks; physical distancing; washing hands; cleaning facilities and improving ventilation; and doing contact tracing, isolation and quarantining.

The CDC says vaccination and testing “provide additional layers of COVID-19 prevention in schools,” but don’t describe them as key strategies.

"With the release of this operational strategy, CDC is not mandating that schools reopen. These recommendations simply provide schools a long-needed roadmap for how to do so safely under different levels of disease in the community," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in prepared remarks for the agency’s news briefing on Friday. 

"We also know that some schools are already providing in-person instruction and we want them to be able to continue to do this, but we know that some are not following the mitigation strategies we know work," Walensky said. "For these schools, we are not mandating that they close; rather, we are providing these recommendations and highlighting the science behind them to help schools create an environment that is safe for students, teachers and staff."

Walensky added that while each strategy is important, CDC recommends "prioritizing the first two" -- wearing masks and physical distancing.

“These two strategies are incredibly important in areas that have high community spread of Covid-19, which right now is the vast majority of communities in the US," Walensky said.

2:29 p.m. ET, February 12, 2021

New York has now given 2 million vaccine doses

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

People wait in line to enter the coronavirus vaccination site at Yankee Stadium on February 5 in New York City.
People wait in line to enter the coronavirus vaccination site at Yankee Stadium on February 5 in New York City. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

New York has now administered 2 million vaccine doses -- over 130,000 of which have been given in the last 24 hours -- according to NY Governor Andrew Cuomo. 

The state's vaccination sites have administered 90 percent of the first dose vaccinations they has received, and 82 percent of first and second doses, the Governor said.

While the federal government has increased weekly supply by over 20% over the course of the next three weeks, his office said “New York's vast distribution network and large population of eligible individuals still far exceed the supply coming from the federal government.”

Approximately 7 million New Yorkers are eligible for vaccinations. 

1:26 p.m. ET, February 12, 2021

France’s health authority recommends single vaccine dose to those previously infected

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy

A nurse fills a syringe with a vial of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine at the Pasteur Institute, in Paris, on January 21.
A nurse fills a syringe with a vial of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine at the Pasteur Institute, in Paris, on January 21. Christophe Archambault/AFP/Getty Images

France’s health authority has become the first to recommend that only one dose of the coronavirus vaccine be administered to people previously infected with coronavirus.

In a press release published Friday, the French National Authority for Health argued that people infected with Covid-19 keep an “immunity memory” and should only require one dose of a vaccine. Health authorities recommended that the vaccination be carried out after a 3-month delay from the person's infection date, but "preferably closer to a 6-month delay."

The government has yet to adopt the health authority’s recommendation.

France began its vaccination campaign on December 27, and there are currently three vaccines authorized for use – Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Moderna – which are all two-dose vaccines.

1:01 p.m. ET, February 12, 2021

Italy extends travel ban between regions, as four regions tighten Covid-19 restrictions

From CNN's Livia Borghese in Rome

Italy is extending its travel ban between regions by another week to February 25, the government said. The travel ban does have some exceptions, including travel for health reasons or for emergencies.

Additionally, the regions of Tuscany, Abruzzo, and Liguria, as well as the province of Trento, will tighten coronavirus restrictions, according to an Italian Health Ministry statement. These regions will be placed into Italy's middle tier of restrictions -- called “orange zones" -- meaning that museums will close and restaurants and bars can only open for takeout services.

Areas where clusters of the UK variant have been discovered, such as the city of Perugia, will also have increased restrictions, according to the Health Ministry. Nearly one in five coronavirus infections in Italy are from the UK variant, according to a Health Ministry study released Friday. 

The UK variant “is likely to become the prevalent one in the coming months,” said the Health Ministry press release, adding that an estimated 17.8% of cases nationwide are from the UK variant of the virus.

On Friday, Italy recorded a further 13,908 new cases of coronavirus and 316 additional deaths, according to the latest government data. 

12:29 p.m. ET, February 12, 2021

Vitamin C and zinc don't help Covid-19 patients, study finds

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

Vitamin C and zinc don’t do anything to help coronavirus patients, a Cleveland Clinic team reported Friday.

Their research is the first major randomized study looking at the popular supplements, given under medical supervision, and it found even high doses did nothing to help patients recover from Covid-19.

The team at the Cleveland Clinic health system randomly assigned 214 patients to get varying doses of ascorbic acid, commonly known as vitamin C, and zinc, between April and October of last year. 

“In this randomized clinical trial of ambulatory patients diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection, treatment with high-dose zinc gluconate, ascorbic acid, or a combination of the two supplements did not significantly decrease the duration of symptoms compared with standard of care,” the team wrote in the journal JAMA Network Open.

“Most consumers of ascorbic acid and zinc are taking significantly lower doses of these supplements, so demonstrating that even high-dose ascorbic acid and zinc had no benefit suggests clear lack of efficacy,” Dr. Milind Desai of the Cleveland Clinic and colleagues wrote. 

“In addition, administering supplements with unproven benefit can be detrimental due to adverse effects. Zinc has been shown to cause a metallic taste, dry mouth, and gastrointestinal intolerance in high doses. Ascorbic acid can cause gastrointestinal intolerance, and in the current study, a significantly higher proportion of patients in the ascorbic acid subgroups reported adverse effects, including nausea, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.”

12:14 p.m. ET, February 12, 2021

What it's like outside a Walgreens getting ready to administer Covid-19 vaccines to the public

Last week, the Biden administration announced it will begin direct shipments of coronavirus vaccines to retail pharmacies, expanding points of access for Americans to receive shots as concerns about variants of the virus expand.

Jason Carroll is outside one Walgreens pharmacy in New Britain, Connecticut, as they begin to administer Covid-19 vaccines to the public.

Watch more:

11:50 a.m. ET, February 12, 2021

UK Covid-19 full-range R rate falls below 1 for the first time since July

From CNN's Samantha Tapfumaneyi in London

The UK’s Covid-19 reproduction number (R) is now estimated at between 0.7 and 0.9, the country's Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said on Friday.

This is the first time the full range of the R rate has fallen below 1 since July 2020, according to PA Media.

The R number falling to between 0.7 and 0.9 means that “on average, every 10 people infected will infect between 7 and 9 other people,” explained the DHSC on its website.

 Last week, the R number was between 0.7 and 1.0, with the DHSC saying it was “confident" the epidemic was shrinking.

 

11:25 a.m. ET, February 12, 2021

Coronavirus antibody tests results vary a lot depending on when people get them, study finds

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

Antibody tests designed to tell people whether they’ve had a previous coronavirus infection vary greatly in their results depending on when people take the tests and who the people are, researchers reported Friday.

People who had recently been infected were more likely to test negative on an antibody test, the team at the University of California, San Francisco found. They found 112 days after a person was diagnosed with coronavirus appeared to be the optimal time for an accurate antibody test result.

“The sensitivity of the antibody test varied by sex and age, with significantly higher sensitivity among males than among females,” the team wrote in the journal JAMA Network Open.

The team looked at 486 patients who were diagnosed using polymerase chain reaction or PCR testing – the gold standard for coronavirus testing – and who later came back for antibody tests.

“The sensitivity was highest at 126 days after positive RT-PCR results for males and 133 days after positive RT-PCR results for females. The sensitivity also varied significantly by age group, with the highest sensitivity among patients aged 50 to 59 years,” the researchers wrote.

Testing too soon, they said, might lead to a false negative result. Test types varied greatly in their accuracy, also, the team said.

11:55 a.m. ET, February 12, 2021

Iran reports more cases and deaths, as it begins Russian vaccine rollout

From CNN’s Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran and Kareem Khadder in Jerusalem 

Health care staff treat a Covid-19 patient in the intensive care unit at Firouzabadi Hospital in Tehran, Iran, in December 2020.
Health care staff treat a Covid-19 patient in the intensive care unit at Firouzabadi Hospital in Tehran, Iran, in December 2020. Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Iran reported 7,298 new daily coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing the country's total number of cases to 1,503,753, Iran’s health ministry spokesperson said. 

The new Covid-19 related case infection numbers were announced by the spokesperson, Sima Sadaat Lari, in a news conference on state TV. 

The country also reported 65 new related Covid-19 deaths, which took its death toll to 58,809 on Friday.

The health ministry said 3,729 patients remain hospitalized in ICU. 

Iran is the Middle East country hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic in total cases and deaths.  

On Tuesday, Iran began its rollout of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, according to a live broadcast on state television. 

Health Minister Saeed Namaki said the top priority groups for vaccination are doctors and nurses working in intensive care units of hospitals. 1,000 vaccine shots are being given on a daily basis to medical staff and people over the age of 65, Iran’s Tasnim news agency reported on Friday. 

The country has continued to keep restrictions in place to avoid a larger outbreak of cases.