February 23 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Eoin McSweeney and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 0714 GMT (1514 HKT) February 24, 2021
21 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
11:26 a.m. ET, February 23, 2021

New York officials: 81 people need to be revaccinated because doses had temperature fluctuations

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

The COVID-19 vaccination site at Jones Beach State Park is pictured on January 14, in Wantagh, New York.
The COVID-19 vaccination site at Jones Beach State Park is pictured on January 14, in Wantagh, New York. Al Bello/Getty Images

According to New York state officials, 81 people who received vaccinations at the state-run vaccination site at Jones Beach will need to be revaccinated due to temperature fluctuations with the vaccine.

Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said less than a quarter of 1% of people vaccinated on that specific day were effected.

“This vaccine is very sensitive to temperature ranges – we knew exactly who it was, we contacted them, they will get revaccinated,” he said Monday.

Zucker said the ability to rectify the issue is a testament to the robust “checks and balances” system the state has.

Officials said nearly 1,400 people were vaccinated on the day the errant doses were administered.

1:30 p.m. ET, February 23, 2021

Stockholm urges residents not to travel and recommends masks on public transport

From CNN's Amy Cassidy and Henrik Pettersson

A sign with social distancing guidance is seen on a subway train in Stockholm, Sweden, on February 10.
A sign with social distancing guidance is seen on a subway train in Stockholm, Sweden, on February 10. Chine Nouvelle/SIPA/Shutterstock

Stockholm’s health authority recommended face coverings be worn on public transport at all times, as well as in some indoor public spaces where people are in close proximity for a long time, in an effort to reduce the rising spread of Covid-19 in the Swedish capital. 

The new recommendations will take effect immediately amid a 27% increase in Covid-19 cases in Stockholm in the last week and a 24% increase the week before, infection control doctor Maria Rotzén Östlund said at a news conference Tuesday.

Current compliance with wearing face coverings on public transport “is not high enough,” Östlund said, compelling her to change the recommendation to apply to all times of day – not just at rush hour, as the current guidance suggests.

She also urged residents not to travel unless necessary, ahead of the winter sports school break in Stockholm, which will begin next week.

“I want to encourage you who travel away on sports holiday to think carefully about the trip. Can we make it safe? If, for example, someone in the party falls ill during the journey, everyone must stay at home, no one is allowed to go out in ski lift queues or move among others," Östlund said. "Those who travel should also not meet other people outside their own household and shop everything at home to avoid shops at the destination.”
10:47 a.m. ET, February 23, 2021

GOP senators offer proposal to raise minimum wager to $10 per hour, a sticking point in Covid relief package

From CNN's Manu Raju

Sen. Mitt Romney appears before the start of a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, February 23.
Sen. Mitt Romney appears before the start of a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, February 23. Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Some GOP senators are staking out their positions on the minimum wage debate, with Sens. Tom Cotton and Mitt Romney proposing a $10 per hour federal minimum wage with mandatory requirements on businesses to ensure they're not hiring undocumented immigrants.

Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, who opposes the $15 minimum wage, told CNN last night that he would try to amend the Covid relief package to cap the wage hike to $11 per hour over two years.

Sen. Joe Manchin is pictured at Capitol Hill in Washington on February 13.
Sen. Joe Manchin is pictured at Capitol Hill in Washington on February 13. Alex Brandon/AP

The battle over raising the minimum wage, a longtime Democratic goal, was reignited last month when President Biden included it in his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. The minimum wage has been $7.25 since 2009.

However, the measure has already run into resistance on Capitol Hill, including from some Democrats like Manchin, who favor a smaller hike.

Democratic leaders are fast-tracking the passage of Biden's pandemic relief package through a legislative process known as reconciliation, which only requires a majority of votes. However, the party could not afford to lose the support of any member, assuming no Republican senators vote for it.

Read more about the Romney-Cotton proposal here.

10:32 a.m. ET, February 23, 2021

Italy extends its AstraZeneca vaccine age range guidance

From CNN’s Antonia Mortensen

A Red Cross volunteer handles a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine at a vaccine hub in Rome's Fiumicino airport parking area on February 11.
A Red Cross volunteer handles a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine at a vaccine hub in Rome's Fiumicino airport parking area on February 11. Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images

Based on new evidence, Italy has extended the age range it recommends receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine from people ages 18-55 to those ages 18-65, according to the country’s health ministry.

A statement from the health ministry said Italy’s Superior Health Council declared today that the vaccine can be given in the age group between 18 and 65 years, “with the exception of extremely vulnerable subjects.” 

“These indications, according to the permanent working group on SARS-CoV-2, are reinforced by new scientific evidence that reports vaccine efficacy estimates higher than those previously reported, and immunogenicity data in subjects over the age of 55, as well as new international recommendations including the opinion of the WHO SAGE Panel,” the statement said.

WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) recommend the AstraZeneca vaccine for all groups age 18 and above.

Italy’s decision follows early data on the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca shots in Scotland that said by the fourth week after the initial dose, the Pfizer vaccine reduced the risk of hospital admission from Covid-19 by up to 85%. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine reduced the risk of hospitalization by up to 94%. The study is the first to look at the two vaccines’ effect on preventing severe illness resulting in hospitalization across an entire country, with previous efficacy results coming from clinical trials.

Earlier this month, Italy said it would administer the AstraZeneca vaccine to people under 55 years old, starting with school teachers, army and police forces, prison staff and inmates.

9:43 a.m. ET, February 23, 2021

Democrats weighing series of options on minimum wage in Covid-19 relief bill

From CNN's Lauren Fox

People attend a rally for a $15 an hour minimum wage on February 16, in Orlando, Florida.
People attend a rally for a $15 an hour minimum wage on February 16, in Orlando, Florida. John Raoux/AP

As all eyes are on whether the Senate parliamentarian will allow an increase in the minimum wage in the Senate’s Covid-19 relief package, Democrats are having discussions about alternative paths they could take to salvage their increase in the minimum wage.

Democrats are facing two potential hurdles. First, it’s possible the Senate parliamentarian could rule as soon as tonight against allowing the $15 minimum wage to be in the Senate Democrats’ bill. If that happens, Democrats’ options would likely be to try and pass the legislation as a standalone in the future with a 60-vote threshold, something that Republicans wouldn’t support.

If the $15 minimum wage is allowed to stay in the bill, however, it opens up other potential challenges for the party. While progressives have fought for months to include the provision in the package, it could cost Democrats the votes they need to pass it with just 51 votes. Already two members — Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin — have said they wouldn’t support that big of an increase in the minimum wage in the bill. Manchin, however, has expressed an openness to a smaller minimum wage. According to aides, Democrats are looking at whether it might be possible to lower the increase in the minimum wage to $11 or $12 an hour instead of $15. Another option being considered is to expand the phase in so that instead of getting to the $15 minimum wage in 5 years, nationally, it would take 10 years.

Again, the talks are just preliminary. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the chair of the Budget Committee, is still committed to the full $15 amount.

The Senate Finance Committee is also eyeing a provision to give some of the smallest businesses tax credits to help curb the cost of the wage increase and incentivize businesses to increase their minimum wage, according to an aide familiar with the discussions.

Multiple aides warned that the discussions are still just ideas and all eyes are first on what the Senate’s parliamentarian would do. But, the minimum wage increase remains the key sticking point so Democrats are having some preliminary conversations about how the Covid-19 relief bill’s votes could be salvaged if necessary.

9:48 a.m. ET, February 23, 2021

Here's a look at Covid-19 vaccination rates worldwide

From CNN's Henrik Pettersson, Byron Manley, Sergio Hernandez and Deidre McPhillips

At least 98 countries and territories have administered more than 212 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, barely a year after the first Covid-19 case was reported in China.

Several different vaccines have been developed at record speed, in large part due to years of research on related viruses and billions of dollars in investment.

In December 2020, the first dose of a fully tested vaccine — manufactured by Pfizer/BioNTech — was administered in the United Kingdom. Now, multiple vaccines have been authorized for use around the world and dozens of countries and territories have joined the race to vaccinate their residents.

CNN is tracking Covid-19 vaccines worldwide: click on the link below to find out more.

9:22 a.m. ET, February 23, 2021

Pharmaceutical companies pledge 240 million vaccine doses for the US by end of March

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

The United States can expect to see a total of 240 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine by the end of March, according to prepared remarks drug companies will deliver to a House subcommittee today. The vaccine makers are set to testify at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Pfizer and Moderna – the two companies with Covid-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use in the United States – have 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.

Each of the vaccine makers, along with the companies AstraZeneca and Novavax, provided prepared remarks ahead of a hearing before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on Tuesday. In the remarks, each company detailed the number of doses it plans to provide and when.

Pfizer noted in its remarks that it expects to increase the number of doses available for shipment from about 4 to 5 million doses per week at the beginning of February to more than 13 million doses per week by the middle of March. 

"We are on track to make 120 million doses available for shipment by the end of March and an additional 80 million doses by the end of May. And, we anticipate all 300 million contracted doses will be made available for shipment by the end of July, enabling the vaccination of up to 150 million Americans," the company said in its remarks.

Moderna, the other company with an authorized Covid-19 vaccine, noted in its remarks that it is on track to meet a commitment to deliver 100 million doses by the end of March and it plans to double monthly deliveries by April to more than 40 million doses per month.

"Based on this progress scaling up manufacturing, we recently agreed to move up our delivery timeline: we now are aiming to deliver a second hundred million doses by the end of May and a third hundred million doses by the end of July," the company said in its remarks.

Johnson & Johnson, whose vaccine is administered as a single dose, pledged in its remarks to deliver enough single-doses by the end of March to enable the vaccination of more than 20 million Americans, should its vaccine be authorized for emergency use.

Novavax said that it is prepared to deliver 110 million doses, which is included in its current agreements with the US government, by the third quarter of this year. AstraZeneca has noted that it has two agreements with the US government for 300 million doses.

 

8:34 a.m. ET, February 23, 2021

Fauci says CDC guidance for fully vaccinated people could come soon

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he expects US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for fully vaccinated people will be coming soon.

Fauci said that the CDC wants “to make sure they sit down, talk about it, look at the data and then come out with a recommendation based on the science.” 

Common sense tells you that you don’t have to be as stringent with Covid-19 public health measures once fully vaccinated, he said, but he wants firm recommendations from the CDC, “which I believe will be coming soon.”

The CDC has said a fully vaccinated person does not have to do the recommended quarantine — 10 days without a test or seven days with a test — if they come into contact with someone who is known to be infected with the coronavirus, and he thinks more recommendations are coming. 

“I believe you’re going to be hearing more of the recommendations of how you can relax the stringency of some of the things, particularly when you’re dealing with something like your own personal family when people have been vaccinated,” Fauci told CNN.

When asked about a timeline, Fauci said that he speaks about this with the team every day — and as recently as last night. 

“I hope that we will be able to answer the logical questions that people are asking about that,” Fauci said Tuesday. “I agree, they’re questions that we need to answer pretty soon because more and more people are going to be vaccinated, every single day there’ll be more and more people and they’re going to be asking that question.” 

Watch:

8:44 a.m. ET, February 23, 2021

French town of Dunkirk may soon see extra coronavirus measures

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz and Saskya Vandoorne in Paris

A medical worker administers a nasal swab to a patient at a coronavirus testing center in Dunkirk, France on February 18.
A medical worker administers a nasal swab to a patient at a coronavirus testing center in Dunkirk, France on February 18. Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images

Dunkirk may soon see extra measures implemented to curb the spread of coronavirus and the mayor of the Northern French city has asked for one last chance after a sharp rise in coronavirus incidence rates.

The local health authority, Agence Regionale de Santé Hauts-de-France, says that the incidence rate in Dunkirk has reached 901 per 100,000 inhabitants, while in the wider area, Hauts-de-France, it stands at 293 per 100,000. A spokesperson for the authority, Thomas Lhuillery, said there was no information on why the incidence rate in Dunkirk is so high.

Mayor Patrice Vergriete said Tuesday, “a very last chance” was needed for the town — to avoid all gatherings, at work, in the family, during the school holidays.

“We will not oppose lockdown if it were to take place because it is a difficult decision to take, but we must try everything before measures come into place to prevent freedom,” Vergriete told reporters, “we have offered a last reprieve to the people of Dunkirk.”

Vergriete said he was in contact with the French health minister, and that Olivier Veran, the minister, had asked for a “time of reflection.” 

The mayor and the minister will once again talk Tuesday afternoon, Vergriete said.