February 23 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Eoin McSweeney and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 0714 GMT (1514 HKT) February 24, 2021
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2:07 p.m. ET, February 23, 2021

About 65 million Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the US

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

People drive through a tent outside Coors Field as they receive a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine during a mass vaccination event on February 20 in Denver, Colorado.
People drive through a tent outside Coors Field as they receive a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine during a mass vaccination event on February 20 in Denver, Colorado. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

More than 65 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States, according to data published Tuesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC reported that 65,032,083 total doses have been administered, about 79% of the 82,114,370 doses delivered.

That’s only about 850,000 more administered doses reported since yesterday, for a seven-day average of about 1.4 million doses per day. 

About 44.5 million people have now received at least one dose of vaccine and about 19.9 million people have been fully vaccinated with both shots, CDC data shows.

Note: Data published by the CDC may be delayed, and doses may not have been given on the day reported.

1:55 p.m. ET, February 23, 2021

Ireland's coronavirus lockdown will remain in place until at least April 5

From CNN's Emmet Lyons and Lauren Kent

A man walks in Belfast, Ireland, on February 15.
A man walks in Belfast, Ireland, on February 15. Liam McBurney/PA Images/Getty Images

Ireland's coronavirus lockdown will remain in place until April 5, the government's press office said in a statement released Tuesday.

A further review of the restrictions will be conducted on April 5, and the government will consider easing limits that currently restrict movement to within three miles of people's homes, as well as consider easing some restrictions on outdoor activities and meeting other households.

The country will also begin a staggered return to in-school education beginning on March 1, according to the statement. The country's aim is for all classes to return after the Easter break.

Ireland also plans to resume non-Covid-related health services in the coming weeks and expand the reopening of childcare.

"It is critically important that we do not let our guard down. We are carefully and gradually reopening schools because we need to get our children back into education. This will represent a major relief for both pupils and hard-pressed parents," said Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin in a Tuesday address. "When we open things, we want them to stay open."

Martin added that the country has made "steady progress" on vaccinations, with more than 350,000 vaccine doses already administered. He said the government plans to give nearly half of people over 18 their first vaccine dose by the end of April, and 82% of adults their first dose by the end of June. 

"We want to protect as many people as possible in the coming months, until we achieve a critical mass of vaccinations," Martin said. "That is why we will continue to proceed carefully and cautiously, keeping the situation under constant review and being informed at all stages by public health advice."

1:19 p.m. ET, February 23, 2021

It is possible one dose of coronavirus vaccine might be enough for some, NIH director says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Pharmacist Jef Bratberg draws the Moderna Vaccine into syringes at Central Falls High School in Central Falls, Rhode Island, on February 13.
Pharmacist Jef Bratberg draws the Moderna Vaccine into syringes at Central Falls High School in Central Falls, Rhode Island, on February 13. Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images

It’s possible a single dose of coronavirus vaccine might be enough for people who have already been infected, but it will take more research to show that, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, wrote in a blog post Tuesday

“While much more research is needed—and I am definitely not suggesting a change in the current recommendations right now—the results raise the possibility that one dose might be enough for someone who’s been infected with SARS-CoV-2 and already generated antibodies against the virus,” Collins wrote.

Collins referenced a recent preprint on a small NIH-funded study, which looked at 109 people who had already received a first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and found that for 41 people who had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies before their first shot, immune response to the first dose was “equal to, or in some cases better” than the response to the second dose in people without previous infection.

“If other studies support these results, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration might decide to consider whether one dose is enough for people who’ve had a prior COVID-19 infection. Such a policy is already under consideration in France and, if implemented, would help to extend vaccine supply and get more people vaccinated sooner,” wrote Collins. “But any serious consideration of this option will require more data. It will also be up to the expert advisors at FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to decide.”

Collins said that for now, the most important thing for everyone to do is to continue to follow the three W’s – wear a mask, wash hands and watch distance, “and roll up our sleeves for the vaccine as soon as it’s available to us.”

1:21 p.m. ET, February 23, 2021

Scotland to return to "levels" system of Covid restrictions in April

From CNN’s Chloe Adams

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon makes a statement on the coronavirus restrictions at the Scottish Parliament on February 23 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon makes a statement on the coronavirus restrictions at the Scottish Parliament on February 23 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Russell Cheyne/Pool/Getty Images

Scotland will begin a phased lifting of its coronavirus lockdown, starting with the lifting of the stay at home order on April 5.

Weeks later the country will move back to a "levels system" of restrictions, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, Sturgeon said she was confident that the indicative timetable was reasonable and would see the economy start to substantially reopen with further outlines to be published in a Scottish Government document by mid-March. 

“The last thing I want to be doing at any point this year is going backwards. This must be firm and sustainable, and that is what I believe we are putting in place,” Sturgeon said.

The youngest of Scotland’s school pupils returned to classrooms this week. The next phase of school returns will take place on March 15 and will include years four to seven and secondary schools pupils.

At this stage, the outdoor mixing of households rules will allow four people from two households to mix, with these rules changing on April 5 to include six people.

Communal worship will also return, along with essential retail from April 5.

Scotland will then move back to "level three" restrictions on April 26. 

Travel restrictions are likely to remain for the time being, with international travel looking unlikely. 

“One of our biggest risks right now are new variants that start to undermine the vaccine efficacy, that would be a terrible development so that's why we have to be really careful to guard against importation of new variants, hence the need for travel restrictions.” Sturgeon said. “The more that we accept some restriction on an ability to travel overseas, the greater normality we can get back domestically and get that back quicker than we might otherwise be able to do.”

12:55 p.m. ET, February 23, 2021

White House won't say whether Biden would sign a Covid-19 relief bill with an $11 minimum wage

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House on February 23 in Washington, DC.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House on February 23 in Washington, DC. Evan Vucci/AP

White House press secretary Jen Psaki would not say whether President Biden would sign a coronavirus relief bill where the minimum wage is increased to $11 an hour as opposed to the $15 an hour that the President proposed.

Asked by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins if Biden would sign a bill where the minimum wage is increased to $11 an hour, something Sen. Joe Manchin is looking at doing via an amendment to the bill, Psaki punted, saying Biden put forward the $15 an hour number because that is what he supports.

“The President proposed $15 because that’s what he feels is right for the American worker, American workers I should say, and the men and women who are working hard, just trying to make ends meet and that’s why that number was in his package,” Psaki said at Tuesday’s White House press briefing.

Psaki said if the coronavirus relief bill passes the House, which is expected this weekend, “there’ll be an opportunity Sen. Manchin and others to put forward ideas and proposals and we’ll see where that process lands but he proposed the $15 increase for a reason and he stands by it.”

Asked if Biden would consider the lesser minimum wage increase as a possible point of compromise, Psaki said the White House will “see where it goes” after the bill works its way through the Senate reconciliation process.

Manchin said that he would propose the $11 minimum wage amendment if the Senate parliamentarian finds the wage hike within the rules of the budget process that Democrats are employing to advance the covid relief package without Republican support. He would need 51 votes to succeed.

"I would amend it to $11," he said Monday. "$11 basically works for Americans and, we can do $11 in two years and be in a better position than they're going to be with $15 in five years."

12:41 p.m. ET, February 23, 2021

New York state has fully vaccinated 1.18 million people, governor says

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

Elizabeth Griffin, 86, is given her first dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine by Anya Harris at Red Hook Neighborhood Senior Center on February 22 in New York City.
Elizabeth Griffin, 86, is given her first dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine by Anya Harris at Red Hook Neighborhood Senior Center on February 22 in New York City. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

New York state has administered more than 2.25 million first doses – 91% of the first doses it received from the federal government, according to the governor of New York.

More than 1.18 million New Yorkers have been fully vaccinated, according to state data. 

Week 10 allocations, which were delayed due to weather, continue to arrive as of Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said. 

"Supply from the federal government is increasing steadily every week, but the demand still far outweighs the supply,” Cuomo said in a press release.

He reminded residents that beginning this week, the “largest-yet” vaccination sites in Brooklyn and Queens will each be able to vaccinate 3,000 New Yorkers daily.

1:05 p.m. ET, February 23, 2021

States will now receive 14.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines per week, White House says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard and Kate Sullivan

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds a press briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on February 23.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds a press briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on February 23. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that states will now receive 14.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines per week. 

Psaki said White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients made the announcement on a call with governors on Tuesday morning. 

“States will now receive 14.5 million doses this week, up from 8.6 million doses per week when the President took office. That's an increase in vaccine allocations of nearly 70% during the Biden Harris administration,” Psaki said at a White House briefing. 

Earlier today, Pfizer and Moderna — the two companies with Covid-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use in the United States — pledged to make a combined total of 220 million doses available for shipment by the end of March. 

Meanwhile, the company Johnson & Johnson, which has yet to receive an emergency use authorization for its Covid-19 vaccine, has pledged to make 20 million doses available in the same time frame.

1:05 p.m. ET, February 23, 2021

Johnson & Johnson says it's ready to ship 4 million doses in US upon emergency use authorization 

From CNN's Ashley Ahn

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine vials are seen at the Klerksdorp Hospital in Klerksdorp, South Africa, on February 18.
Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine vials are seen at the Klerksdorp Hospital in Klerksdorp, South Africa, on February 18. Phill Magakoe/AFP/Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson, for the first time, put a number on how many initial doses of Covid-19 vaccine it will be able to ship to the US if it is granted emergency use authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration.

The company is prepared to immediately ship nearly 4 million doses, the company's Dr. Richard Nettles told a House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations panel Tuesday.

11:56 a.m. ET, February 23, 2021

More variants discovered in UK and South Africa are now in New York

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

More variants first identified in the UK, and South Africa, have been discovered in New York State, according to the Governor’s office. 

New York has found 18 more cases of the variant first identified in the UK, bringing the total to 154 known cases. 

The state added that a second case of the variant first identified in South Africa was discovered in Nassau County, on Long island, the state said in a release. 

The state added 6,654 new cases, marking a 4.23% positivity, according to a release from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. 

The state adds the qualification that “data, including test results and hospital rates, reported early in the week are often not completely reflective of the current situation due to lower discharges and testing volume over the weekend.”

The 7-day average percent positivity is 3.46%.

Remember: These numbers were released by the state governors office and may not line up with Johns Hopkins University's tally.