February 24 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Rob Picheta, Melissa Mahtani and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 0719 GMT (1519 HKT) February 25, 2021
43 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
7:56 p.m. ET, February 24, 2021

About 66.5 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the US

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

Registered nurses administer the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine to eligible people identified by homeless service agencies from the parking lot of the L.A. Mission on February 24, in Los Angeles.
Registered nurses administer the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine to eligible people identified by homeless service agencies from the parking lot of the L.A. Mission on February 24, in Los Angeles. Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

About 66.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States, according to data published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The CDC reported that 66,464,947 total doses have been administered, about 75% of the 88,669,035 doses delivered. 

That’s about 1.4 million more administered doses reported since yesterday, for a seven-day average of about 1.5 million doses per day. 

About 14% of the population — more than 45 million people — have now received at least one dose of vaccine and more than 6% of the population – about 20.6 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.

5:50 p.m. ET, February 24, 2021

Alaska governor tests positive for Covid-19

From CNN’s Andy Rose

Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy speaks at the White House on July 16.
Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy speaks at the White House on July 16. Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy tested positive for Covid-19 Wednesday, according to his office.

“He is currently at home with mild Covid-19 symptoms,” the governor’s office said in a statement.

Dunleavy had been in quarantine since Sunday when it was determined he was in close contact with another person who had a confirmed coronavirus case.

His initial test on Sunday came back negative, but he remained in precautionary quarantine. The governor’s office said he was retested after he began to feel ill Tuesday night.

Because he has avoided close contacts since Sunday, Dunleavy's office said it is not believed that the governor could have spread the coronavirus to anyone else.

5:26 p.m. ET, February 24, 2021

Go There: CNN takes you to one of New York state's largest Covid-19 vaccination sites

The Covid-19 vaccination site at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn — one of the largest vaccination sites in New York state — opened today. The college is set up to vaccinate 3,000 New Yorkers a day.

CNN’s Alexandra Field was on the ground answering your questions about the vaccine roll out. Watch more:

4:58 p.m. ET, February 24, 2021

US hospital revenue could be down between $53 billion and $122 billion from pre-pandemic levels

From CNN's Ryan Prior

US hospitals are projecting a significant revenue shortfall in 2021 due to the pandemic, according to a new report commissioned by the American Hospital Association. 

In an optimistic scenario, hospitals and health systems could suffer a $53 billion loss in total revenue in 2021. Under a more pessimistic budget scenario, that revenue loss could total $122 billion this year.

The optimistic projection assumed that vaccine supply, distribution, and administration aren’t delayed and residents continue to practice social distancing until herd immunity is achieved.

The pessimistic scenario, on the other hand, would be more likely to come true if vaccine supply and distribution are delayed and residents don’t practice social distancing, both of which contribute to a cyclical rise in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations.

More insight: Treating Covid-19 patients is more expensive for hospitals, especially when they can’t offset those costs with as much usual expected revenue from non-Covid patients.

“During the pandemic, people have put off needed care, in some cases to the detriment of their health,” Rick Pollack, AHA president and CEO, said in a news release. “In addition, the costs of labor and supplies have increased, adding to financial stress.”

Hospitals aren’t just plagued by decreased non-Covid patient volume. They also saw added expenses in many categories last year.

Those costs included a 17% overall uptick in drug expenses per patient discharged and a 16% increase in purchased services per patient, which can include the cost of sterilization and maintaining safe spaces with Covid-19 patients.

Labor expenses were up 14%, due in part to hospitals needing to hire contract labor and give hazard pay to workers. And supply expenses were up 13%, as hospitals needed to purchase personal protective equipment, as shortages of needed equipment led to increased prices. 

The new projections come after an AHA report last summer estimated that hospital revenues for 2020 would be down at least $323.1 billion.

4:37 p.m. ET, February 24, 2021

J&J Covid-19 vaccine may provide better protection against variant in South Africa than originally thought 

From CNN's Jen Christensen

A health worker holds the Johnson and Johnson Covid-19 vaccine in Soweto. South Africa, on February 17.
A health worker holds the Johnson and Johnson Covid-19 vaccine in Soweto. South Africa, on February 17. Emmanuel Croset/AFP via Getty Images

The Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine seems to work better against the coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa than data initially suggested.

The variant, which is thought to be more contagious, currently makes up the majority of cases in South Africa and has been found in several countries, including in the United States.

According to a US Food and Drug Administration’s briefing document released Wednesday, the vaccine showed a 64% efficacy rate in South Africa. That’s seven points higher than what was reported in interim data released by the company in January. 

Since that time, Johnson & Johnson did additional sequencing and determined there were more cases that could be included in its analysis from South Africa. Nearly 95% of the cases in the study in South Africa came from the variant, according to the addendum to the analysis. 

"The fact that the numbers came up a little bit, once they fully analyzed the data from the time of the initial press release, shows that it's not that different against the South African variant," said Dr. Philip Grant, who was the lead investigator on the Stanford University arm of the J&J vaccine trial. "I think it's going to have to be looked at more carefully, in terms of which vaccines are most effective in different locations."

The vaccine has a 72% efficacy rate in the US and a more than 68% rate in Brazil at protecting people from mild to severe/critical disease. 

The vaccine offered nearly 86% protection against severe forms of the disease in the US, nearly 82% in South Africa and nearly 88% in Brazil.

Experts have said variants may fuel a surge of cases in the US, and that’s one reason why it’s important to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible.

4:13 p.m. ET, February 24, 2021

Moderna designs updated Covid-19 vaccine to combat South Africa coronavirus variant

From CNN's John Bonifield

Moderna has designed an updated version of its Covid-19 vaccine to help it combat the South Africa coronavirus variant, the company announced Wednesday.

Initial doses have been shipped to the US National Institutes of Health for a clinical study.

The new vaccine, called mRNA-1273.351, will be evaluated as a booster shot for people who have already been vaccinated against coronavirus and as a primary vaccine for people who haven't had coronavirus and have yet to be vaccinated.

Moderna said it will also evaluate a "multivalent" booster shot that combines the new vaccine formulation with the current vaccine.

Additionally, the company said it has begun to test whether a third, lower dose of its current Covid-19 vaccine can increase immunity against coronavirus variants of concern, with some study participants already getting third doses.

On Monday, the US Food and Drug Administration issued new guidance to vaccine makers to address the emergence of coronavirus variants. The agency recommended that data from clinical immunogenicity studies be used to support any changes or updates to vaccines. Such studies would be smaller and could take less time than large-scale clinical trials.

"It's going to be on the order of a few hundred individuals in terms of size and we'd expect that that might take a few months," Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said during a call with reporters on Monday.

Moderna said it plans to "evaluate immunogenicity and safety in participants" consistent with the recently updated guidance. 

"We are moving quickly to test updates to the vaccines that address emerging variants of the virus in the clinic. Moderna is committed to making as many updates to our vaccine as necessary until the pandemic is under control. We hope to demonstrate that booster doses, if necessary, can be done at lower dose levels, which will allow us to provide many more doses to the global community in late 2021 and 2022 if necessary," Stephane Bancel, Moderna's CEO, said in a news release Wednesday.

Moderna did not say how long it expects the studies to take, or when the new vaccine would be available, if authorized.

4:19 p.m. ET, February 24, 2021

Moderna has shipped 55 million Covid-19 doses to US

From CNN's John Bonifield

A woman receives the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine in Boston on February 23.
A woman receives the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine in Boston on February 23. John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Moderna has shipped approximately 55 million Covid-19 doses to the US to date, the company said Wednesday.

An additional approximately 33 million doses have been produced, filled into vials and are in the final stages of production and testing before being released to the US, Moderna said in a news release.

The company now plans to manufacture 700 million doses globally this year, an increase of 100 million doses. In 2022, it says its global capacity will increase to approximately 1.4 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine.

Moderna said it is making new financial investments to achieve that increased capacity at manufacturing sites. The influx of money will enable additional production of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine and potential production of new versions of the vaccine that may be needed to combat coronavirus variants.

The company said it could potentially manufacture even more doses in 2022 if studies show new variant-based versions of the vaccine can be administered at lower dosages than the current vaccine.

3:55 p.m. ET, February 24, 2021

White House officially announces continuation of Covid-19 national emergency

From CNN's DJ Judd

The White House officially announced it will continue the national emergency declared by the previous administration surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The national emergency was declared last year on March 13, 2020.

In a news release issued today, the White House said "the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause significant risk to the public health and safety of the Nation," adding that the declaration "must continue in effect beyond March 1, 2021." 

3:31 p.m. ET, February 24, 2021

North Carolina governor eases Covid-19 restrictions as infections decline

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper speaks during a briefing at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, on February 24.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper speaks during a briefing at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, on February 24. Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer/AP

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said he will sign a new executive order that starts on Friday that will ease some of the Covid-19 restrictions that have been in place in the state since the beginning of the pandemic. 

The new executive order lifts the modified stay-at-home order that requires people to stay in their residences and businesses to close to the public between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. local time.

Cooper and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said the statewide mask mandate remains in effect.

Indoor gathering limits increase from 10 to 25, with the limit of 50 for outdoor gatherings remaining the same, the order said.

The curfew for alcohol sales for onsite consumption will now be from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. under the new order.

The order also lightened capacity limits for event venues. Indoor venues that have a capacity over 5,000 can now allow 15% capacity as long as they follow additional safety measures.

Previously, this limit was at 250 people, regardless of venue size. Outdoor venues can now have a capacity of 30%.

By the numbers: According to the state dashboard, 849,630 cases have been reported since the start of the pandemic. There have also been 11,074 deaths reported in North Carolina.

The dashboard showed that 2,180,655 doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the state.

To note: These numbers were released by the state’s public health agency and may not line up exactly in real-time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University, The Covid Tracking Project and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.