February 22 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Eoin McSweeney and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 0645 GMT (1445 HKT) February 23, 2021
27 Posts
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1:51 p.m. ET, February 22, 2021

West Virginia reports 36 straight days of decreasing Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s LaCrisha McAllister

West Virginia has had 36 straight days of active Covid-19 cases dropping in the state, Gov. Jim Justice said during a briefing Monday.

New positive Covid-19 cases are down to 248 in the last 24 hours, marking the first time since Nov. 12 that confirmed active cases have been below 9,000, Justice said. There were 15 new Covid-19 deaths this week, bringing the state’s pandemic death toll to 2,263.

Three cases of a new Covid-19 variant have been confirmed in West Virginia, Justice said. The state’s chief health officer, Dr. Clay Marsh, said the variant cases originated in the UK.

Justice further stated that there has been a total of 435,972 administrations of the first and second doses of the vaccine. 

Justice also said Monday that he has called on the state’s Board of Education to require in-person instruction five days per week for students in K through 8 grades.

On Friday, the governor lessened social distancing restrictions — increasing bar and restaurant capacity to 75% of seating. He also raised the capacity on small businesses and retail stores from two to four people per 1,000 square feet. Grocery stores may now have up to six people per 1,000 square feet. Justice also raised the state’s social gathering limit from 25 to 75 people.

Note: These numbers were released by the state of Virginia, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

 

2:01 p.m. ET, February 22, 2021

Go There: CNN answers your questions about the pandemic from an Atlanta mass vaccination site

Mass vaccination sites open today throughout Georgia. CNN’s Ryan Young is outside the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, where he answered viewers' questions about the vaccines and pandemic.

Watch:

1:09 p.m. ET, February 22, 2021

Biden will order flags flying over federal property to half-staff to mark 500,000 US Covid-19 deaths

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced that President Biden will order all flags flying over federal buildings to fly at half-staff for five days to mark the “solemn milestone” of 500,000 American deaths from Covid-19.

“Later today, the President, the first lady, the Vice President and the second gentlemen will mark the solemn milestone of 500,000 American lives lost to Covid-19. They will ask all Americans to join in a moment of silence during a candle lighting ceremony at sundown,” Psaki said at Monday’s White House press briefing. “President Biden will also deliver remarks and order all flags on federal property to be lowered at half-staff for the next five days.”

Psaki said Biden’s remarks will “will highlight the magnitude of loss that this milestone marks for the American people and so many families across the country."

The White House official also said Biden would "speak to the power of the American people to turn the tide on this pandemic by working together, following public health guidelines and getting in line to be vaccinated as soon as they are eligible.”

12:53 p.m. ET, February 22, 2021

Spain has administered more than 3 million vaccine doses, health officials say

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in London

Spain has administered more than 3 million vaccine doses, the Spanish Health Ministry said in a statement on Monday.

According to the health ministry, at least 1,197,061 have received two doses of the vaccine.

Most of the doses administered are of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine (2,837,196), followed by the Moderna (132,433) and the Oxford / AstraZeneca (120,722) vaccines.

12:14 p.m. ET, February 22, 2021

New York City has administered over 1.5 million vaccine doses, mayor says

From CNN's Laura Ly

A medical worker prepares the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination site in the Bronx, New York, on February 10.
A medical worker prepares the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination site in the Bronx, New York, on February 10. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York City has administered over 1.5 million vaccine doses to date, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference Monday.

Despite vaccine shipping delays due to winter weather last week, de Blasio said the city is still on track to achieve its goal of fully-vaccinating five million New York City residents by June 2021. 

On Monday, the city reported a 7.2% Covid-19 positivity rate. At least 252 new Covid-19 patients have been hospitalized, for a hospitalization rate of 4.09 per every 100,000 residents, de Blasio said. 

New York City is working on putting out a report “within the next few days” to discuss the new Covid-19 variants and their prevalence in the city, Dr. Jay Varma, the city’s Senior Advisor for Public Health, said Monday. Varma said city officials plan to update these reports periodically.

1:39 p.m. ET, February 22, 2021

Boris Johnson lays out a 4-month timeline for easing UK Covid-19 restrictions

House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images
House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson just announced a roadmap for gradually easing Covid-19 restrictions.

Here's a look at what's in the plan, according to Johnson:

  • March 8: Schools finally reopen across England, and limited outdoor social interaction, such as sitting on a park bench with one other person, will return.
  • March 29: Groups of six can meet outside and two households can mix.
  • No earlier than April 12: Non-essential retail, such as hairdressers, gyms, museums, zoos and theme parks can open. Social contacting rules will remain in place for indoor activities, meaning that they can only be attended with your own household. 
  • No earlier than May 17: Most social contacting rules will be removed. Groups of up to 30 will be able to meet outdoors in a public space or private garden. Pubs and restaurants will be allowed to serve indoors, though the rule of six will apply. Indoor entertainment will also be allowed to resume, with venues allowed to host up to 1,000 people. Spectators will be allowed to return to live outdoor sports, with up to 10,000 allowed to attend the largest venues such as Wembley Stadium.
  • No sooner than June 21: Most social contacting rules will be removed and nightclubs can reopen. Personal life events like weddings will have no limitations if things go well.

Watch the announcement:

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post misreported the day most social contacting rules will be removed. It is no sooner than June 21.

10:58 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021

UK prime minister warns there will be more deaths as he announces "cautious" exit from lockdown

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio

Leon Neal/Getty Images
Leon Neal/Getty Images

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned there will be more deaths from Covid-19 as the country “cautiously, but irreversibly” exits lockdown. 

“We cannot escape the fact that lifting lockdown will result in more cases, more hospitalizations and sadly more deaths,” he told lawmakers in the UK Parliament as he announced his roadmap toward lifting restrictions. 

“No vaccine can ever be 100% effective, not everyone will take them up and like all viruses, Covid-19 will mutate,” he explained. “There will always be some vulnerable people that will not be affected by vaccines.”

Still, the prime minister added that the country could not “persist indefinitely” with lockdown restrictions that were crippling the British economy.  

“Today’s measures will apply in England but we’re working closely with the devolved administrations,” he also explained. “We’re able to take these steps because of the resolve of the British public and the extraordinary success of our NHS in vaccinating 17.5 million across the UK.”

Watch:

 

10:52 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021

Georgia opens four Covid-19 mass vaccination sites across the state

From CNN's Tina Burnside

Starting today, mass Covid-19 vaccination sites are set to open in Georgia allowing for increased vaccine access across the state. 

During a news conference on Monday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said although the state has administered vaccines to 1.7 million residents including 763,000 seniors, the vaccine demand continues to vastly outpace supply. 

Chris Stallings, director of Georgia Emergency Management Agency, said the sites which are scattered across the state will administer shots to as many as 1,100 people per day. 

10:16 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021

Treasury secretary says a successful US economic recovery would be "pre-pandemic levels of employment”

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaks on February 5.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaks on February 5. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen discussed the road to economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, saying a successful recovery to her “would be if we could get back to pre-pandemic levels of employment.”

“We need to make sure that those who are most affected are not permanently scarred by this crisis,” Yellen said during an interview with the New York Times' DealBook DC Policy Project on Monday.

Responding to concerns that President Biden’s proposed relief package is spending money “inefficiently,” Yellen said the American Rescue Plan has targeted assistance in a number of ways. However, she said targeted assistance might not reach all American’s who need it, such as those who have dropped out of the workforce and aren’t eligible for certain assistance programs.

"The truth is there are pockets of pain that go beyond what can be reached in those highly targeted ways," she said, adding that the $1,400 direct payment checks would help to make sure that “pockets of misery that we know exist out there,” also receive help.

Yellen echoed the administration’s stance that the danger is going to small on economic relief, not too large. “If you don’t spend what is necessary to get the economy back on track, that has a fiscal cost as well,” Yellen said.

She also discussed the new design for the $20 dollar bill with Harriet Tubman on it, and said one of the reasons for the delay is making sure there are proper anticounterfeiting measures in place. "I promise I will do everything I possibly can to expedite this and I would like to see Harriet Tubman honored on our currency,” she said.