The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines

By Jessie Yeung, Kara Fox, Kareem Khadder, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT) March 2, 2021
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12:48 p.m. ET, March 1, 2021

31 states plus DC are now allowing teachers to get Covid-19 vaccines

Compiled by CNN's Yon Pomrenze, Evan Simko-Bednarski and Elizabeth Stuart

Three more states have started allowing all or some teachers and school staff to receive the Covid-19 vaccine starting today, bringing the total to 31 states plus Washington, DC.

The additional states are Louisiana, Mississippi and Connecticut. Though some states have announced they are prioritizing teachers, vaccine availability remains a concern across the country. Several other states have announced they will open up vaccination appointments to educators later this month.

There are 19 states where teachers are still not eligible to receive the vaccine as a specific group — although some educators might fall into the current age group that state is vaccinating.

Here are the states where all or some teachers are eligible:

  1. Alabama
  2. Alaska
  3. Arizona
  4. Arkansas
  5. California
  6. Colorado
  7. Connecticut
  8. Delaware
  9. Hawaii
  10. Idaho
  11. Illinois
  12. Iowa
  13. Kansas
  14. Kentucky
  15. Louisiana
  16. Maryland
  17. Michigan
  18. Minnesota
  19. Mississippi
  20. Nebraska
  21. Nevada
  22. New York
  23. North Dakota
  24. Ohio
  25. Oregon
  26. Pennsylvania
  27. Tennessee
  28. Utah
  29. Virginia
  30. West Virginia
  31. Wyoming
  32. Washington, DC

Here are the states where teachers are not yet eligible:

  1. Florida
  2. Georgia
  3. Indiana
  4. Maine
  5. Massachusetts
  6. Missouri
  7. Montana
  8. New Hampshire
  9. New Jersey
  10. New Mexico
  11. North Carolina
  12. Oklahoma
  13. Rhode Island
  14. South Carolina
  15. South Dakota
  16. Texas
  17. Vermont
  18. Washington
  19. Wisconsin
11:55 a.m. ET, March 1, 2021

CDC director "deeply concerned" about potential shift in trajectory of the pandemic

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

The White House
The White House

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said she is “deeply concerned” about the potential shift in the trajectory of the pandemic.

While the number of cases had been declining, the most recent seven-day average of new cases at about 67,200 people represents an increase of a little more than 2% compared to the prior seven days. The most recent seven-day average of deaths has also increased more than 2%.

“Please hear me clearly. At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard earned ground we have gained,” Walensky said during a White House COVID-19 Response team briefing on Monday.

Walensky said the country can stop the surge of cases in this country by wearing a mask that fits, maintaining social distance, practicing good hand hygiene and avoiding crowds.

“Please stay strong in your conviction,” Walensky said. “Continue wearing your well-fitting mask and taking the other public health prevention actions that we know work.”

 

WATCH:

11:07 a.m. ET, March 1, 2021

Johnson & Johnson working on booster for coronavirus variants, CEO says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Johnson & Johnson is currently working on a booster to help its Covid-19 vaccine deal with coronavirus variants, CEO Alex Gorsky told CNN’s Jim Sciutto on Monday.

“While we’re encouraged and we’re confident in the current vaccine that we have, you’ve always got to be preparing for the future, and frankly for the unknown," Gorsky said. "So, we’re doing that as we speak.”
11:03 a.m. ET, March 1, 2021

The US has approved 3 Covid-19 vaccines. Here's what they all have in common.

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Johnson & Johnson's single-dose coronavirus vaccine has become the third Covid-19 shot approved for use in the US. Previously, Pfizer and Moderna's two-dose vaccines had been approved.

None of the three vaccines contains additives that can sometimes cause strong reactions, such as antibiotics, preservatives or adjuvants, which are compounds used to boost the immune response that can add to the kick of any vaccine.

That means a very low risk of allergic reaction, especially life-threatening anaphylaxis. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports only a few cases of anaphylaxis in people who have been given the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, and all were easily treated.

Only one case of anaphylaxis has been reported in the 44,000 people who have tested the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Plus, all three target a specific part of the spike protein called the receptor binding domain. As the name implies, it's the part the virus uses to grapple cells. Mutations to this particular region could weaken the efficacy of all three vaccines.

Luckily, all three appear to stimulate an overwhelming immune response — one much stronger than people get after a natural infection. So far, it appears to be enough to continue at least partially protecting people from the most concerning variants.

9:50 a.m. ET, March 1, 2021

EU begins laying groundwork to pave the way for Covid-19 vaccine passports this summer

From CNN’s James Frater

European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer speaks during a conference in Brussels, Belgium, on March 5, 2020.
European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer speaks during a conference in Brussels, Belgium, on March 5, 2020. Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The European Commission has started laying the groundwork for a vaccine passport that could let European Union citizens travel this summer, it announced.

The Commission intends to publish a legislative proposal for vaccine certification by the end of March, Commission chief spokesperson Eric Mamer said.

In January, the European Union and its 27 member states agreed a set of guidelines that would form the basis of the passports, “but the exact information still needs to be determined,” he said.

To avoid discrimination and citizens being turned away at a border, the Commission’s intention is that the passports “would not only state whether or not a person had been vaccinated, but also whether this person has had recent PCR test, or can be deemed Covid immune, for health reasons i.e., antibodies,” Mamer added.

Asked whether the scope of the legal proposal would extend to international travelers traveling into the EU, Mamer said: “We will have to come back to you once the proposal is made, we cannot give details for the moment.” 

Expanding on the details of technical work currently underway to prepare the passports Johannes Bahrke, the EU’s Digital Economy spokesperson said, “It's a question of: how a certificate can be checked, because it's important that they are safe; and how the data is safe; what's the technical standard.”

Bahrke said, “all these kind of details now need to be agreed among member states based on the guidelines that are in place.” 

Speaking following a meeting of European Leaders last week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said it would be “at least three months” before the passports could be rolled out.

“Member states will need to move fast with the implementation if we want such a green certificate to be in place by summer,” von der Leyen said. “They will have to ensure a quick and complete rollout in the National Health System, and in the border systems."

 

9:36 a.m. ET, March 1, 2021

Decline in UK's Covid-19 cases is due to lockdown and vaccine rollout, UK foreign secretary says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

A paramedic draws up the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in Darlington, England, on March 1.
A paramedic draws up the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in Darlington, England, on March 1. Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

With a strict, government-imposed lockdown in place, the United Kingdom has seen a continued decline in its Covid-19 cases over the last few weeks.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab attributes it to the lockdown and the “swift rollout of the vaccines.”

“Over 20 million people now have had their first dose, and that clearly is protecting people, having an impact on transmission. So, of course, there's a long way to go, but the signs, the progress is all positive, and we've got light at the end of the tunnel here,” he told CNN.

Although the country is set to reopen its schools on March 8, it will being back non-essential retail, such as hairdressers, gyms, museums, zoos and theme parks on April 12.

Raab said it’s important to stick to the roadmap, which he called optimistic but cautious.

“We don't want to undo and unpick the progress that we've made, or subject people to the risk of, let's face it, dying, when it can be preserved and protected,” he said Monday. “It's an evidence-based approach, and we've got a series of steps we'll take.”

He added: "We want to know that when we come out of this lock down, we stay out of it.”

8:56 a.m. ET, March 1, 2021

Johnson & Johnson will deliver 20 million vaccine doses in March and 100 million by June, official says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

In this file photo, Johnson & Johnson vials of the Janssen Covid-19 vaccine are seen in the United States, on December 2, 2020.
In this file photo, Johnson & Johnson vials of the Janssen Covid-19 vaccine are seen in the United States, on December 2, 2020. Johnson & Johnson via AP

Now that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine in the US, the company will deliver 20 million Covid-19 vaccine doses in March and 100 million doses by June, said Dr. Paul Stoffels, the company’s chief scientific officer.

“This is a single-shot vaccine so 100 million US citizens will be able to get vaccinated before the summer with our vaccine,” he told CNN, adding that the company is producing as much as it can.

“You can't accelerate it by yelling at it,” he said Monday. “You have to have the cells growing and the viruses extracted and put into vials, and that's what it is.”

Stoffels also confirmed that Johnson & Johnson is “evaluating when we need to have, eventually, a boost on the single dose, which might be six month, 12 months … to keep immunity up.”

 “A booster dose will be needed at a certain point. And so we started to study, with an interim of two months, to get to maximum protection and durability,” he said.

Watch the interview here:

8:15 a.m. ET, March 1, 2021

Nordic nations tighten restrictions as cases surge

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite and James Frater

Just three months ago, Finland had Europe's lowest average of Covid-19 infections and deaths per capita, and had managed to contain local outbreaks while sticking to some of the most relaxed restrictions on the continent.

But now it’s facing a new surge -- and the government has changed tack.

On Monday, Finland’s government declared a state of emergency due to a sharp rise in cases that they have attributed partially to the spread of new variants.

The country will go into a three-week lockdown on March 8, according to Prime Minister Sanna Marin.

In a statement, the government said:

"The number and incidence of Covid-19 cases in Finland have risen very rapidly since the beginning of February 2021. The number of infections caused by new virus variants has clearly increased, which may further accelerate the epidemic and place significant strain on hospital and intensive care capacity if we are unable to bring the number of infections down.”

The strictest restrictions were already introduced in seven hospital districts last Thursday, including in the capital, Helsinki.

Across the border in Norway, officials are also tightening restrictions due to a surge of cases in the capital that Oslo City Council called "a consequence of the import of mutated variants of the coronavirus."

The new virus variants spread faster than previous variants," Oslo City Councilor Raymond Johansen said in a Sunday statement.

"This means that we now have to tighten up infection control measures in line with the recommendations of national health authorities.

From Tuesday until March 15, the new measures in Oslo include: the closing of all restaurants, except for take-away services; and shuttering all stores, except pharmacies and grocery/liquor stores.

From Monday, Oslo students attending upper secondary schools will stay at home and on Wednesday, all schools will be run with a combination of traditional and virtual learning.

The council added that is introducing the mass testing of students with saliva samples from March 8, and the increased testing of all teachers.

7:43 a.m. ET, March 1, 2021

One European nation is locking down while the rest of the world is starting to open up

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová in London

A medical worker wearing protective equipment takes a sample at a drive-in Covid-19 testing station in Prague, Czech Republic, on February 23.
A medical worker wearing protective equipment takes a sample at a drive-in Covid-19 testing station in Prague, Czech Republic, on February 23. Michael Cizek/AFP/Getty Images

While much of the world is starting to think about lifting their coronavirus restrictions, the Czech Republic has today entered a strict new lockdown. The Central European nation of 10 million has been experiencing near record levels of new infections and its death toll has just topped 20,000. 

There is no reason for the country to be among the worst hit. As a relatively wealthy nation and a member of the European Union, the Czech Republic has access to vaccines, medical equipment and track-and-trace tech solutions. It has a democratically elected government. Its health care system is well respected, its economy fairly strong.

Instead, the current Czech catastrophe is akin to death by a thousand cuts, a result of dozens of tiny missteps, late decisions and botched public health messages, experts tell CNN.

Read more here about what went wrong in a country that sailed through the pandemic’s first wave nearly unscathed.