March 2 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Brett McKeehan, Rob Picheta, Kareem Khadder and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 0711 GMT (1511 HKT) March 3, 2021
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1:06 p.m. ET, March 2, 2021

White House is increasing weekly vaccine supply to 15.2 million doses per week

From CNN's Betsy Klein

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House on March 2 in Washington, DC.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House on March 2 in Washington, DC. Evan Vucci/AP

The White House announced another increase in vaccine supply amid the push to gets shots into American arms. 

Vaccine supply will be increased for states, tribes, and territories from 14.5 to 15.2 million doses per week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. She noted that states are also receiving 2.8 million Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses this week, for a total of 18 million doses this week.

The weekly supply to states, tribes, and territories was 8.6 million when Biden assumed office in January.

Governors were informed of the increase during a weekly meeting Tuesday, she said.

Psaki also confirmed that later Tuesday, President Biden will announce what she described as an “unprecedented, historic step,” the partnership between competitor pharmaceutical companies Merck and Johnson & Johnson to ramp up vaccine production. The federal government will be involved in the partnership and has invoked the Defense Production Act.

“The US government will facilitate this partnership in several key ways, including invoking the Defense Production Act, to equip two Merck facilities to the standards necessary to safely manufacture the vaccine, and asking the Department of Defense to provide live, daily logistical support to strengthen Johnson & Johnson’s efforts,” she said.

The Defense Production Act, Psaki later noted, has been invoked to implement fill finish capacity and drug substance availability.

 

1:03 p.m. ET, March 2, 2021

CDC guidance for people who have been fully vaccinated expected later this week

From CNN's John Bonifield

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will release guidance for people who have been fully vaccinated when it is finalized later this week, a CDC official tells CNN.

The official confirmed the broad themes contained in the guidance, which were first reported by Politico.

The guidance is reported to include a recommendation that fully vaccinated people limit their social interactions to small home gatherings with other fully vaccinated people. It reportedly will also recommend that fully vaccinated people continue to wear masks in public and practice social distancing. Additionally, it reportedly will include scenarios for Americans to consider when making plans, including travel.

11:58 a.m. ET, March 2, 2021

Mass US vaccination sites will be able to take 6,000 people a day, official says

From CNN's Geneva Sands

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks at a FEMA-supported vaccination center in Philadelphia on March 2.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks at a FEMA-supported vaccination center in Philadelphia on March 2. CNN

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said a new Federal Emergency Management Agency-supported vaccination site in Philadelphia, and other ones like it around the US, will be able to vaccinate up to 6,000 people a day. 

As of today, FEMA has setup more than 500 federally supported community vaccination centers and that number is "growing," Mayorkas said speaking at the Pennsylvania Convention Center – the location of one of FEMA’s Community Vaccination Center pilot facilities.

This was Mayorkas' first trip outside of Washington, DC, since taking office and he told reporters he had received the vaccine. 

"It is important that people understand that the vaccine is safe. I have been vaccinated and you should feel comfortable being vaccinated as soon as you are possibly able to do so," he said.

Mayorkas also issued a message to undocumented immigrants, saying Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection "will not conduct immigration enforcement operations at or near vaccine distribution sites or clinics."

He said race, ethnicity, access to transportation or immigration status should not impact access to the vaccine. 

The Center City Vaccination Center in Philadelphia is one of FEMA's mass vaccination sites. It will open on March 3 and is staffed largely by uniformed military personnel, freeing up local staff, according to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.

The vaccine being used at the facility is provided from a federal allotment, the mayor said, allowing the city to use its allotment elsewhere in the city. 

Kenney also took a dig at the Trump administration, saying, "imagine that, the White House is now actually trying to save lives. What a difference that makes." 

11:38 a.m. ET, March 2, 2021

Nearly 70% of Americans want to get a Covid-19 vaccine as soon as the can or already have, poll shows 

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

A nurse picks up a Moderna Covid-19 vaccine that is ready to be administered at a vaccination site at Kedren Community Health Center in Los Angeles on February 16.
A nurse picks up a Moderna Covid-19 vaccine that is ready to be administered at a vaccination site at Kedren Community Health Center in Los Angeles on February 16. Apu Gomes/AFP/Getty Images

Nearly 70% of Americans are likely to get the vaccine as soon as it is available to them or have already gotten it, according to new poll results from Axios-Ipsos published Tuesday. 

The poll found that 68% of Americans said that they were likely to get the vaccine as soon as it was available, or have already gotten it.

The number of Americans saying they’re not at all likely to get the vaccine – 21% – remains essentially unchanged since January, but the number saying they’re not very likely to – 10% – has decreased by nine points since earlier in the year, according to the poll conducted Feb. 26 to March 1 and based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,088 adults age 18 and up. 

People with a college degree and Democrats expressed the greatest interest in getting vaccinated. 

Nearly one-quarter – 23% – of respondents have gotten at least one vaccine dose, up from 19% last week and 3% in the Jan. 11 poll. Half – 53% – of those age 65 and older have gotten at least one shot. 

Higher rates of vaccination were reported by those who were college educated (29%), more affluent, with a $50,000 or higher household income (25%), and white (25%.) This can be compared to those with a high school education or less (16%), less affluent, with a household income lower than $50,000 (18%), or Black (19%) and Hispanic (17%). 

Three quarters of the respondents – 75% – also said that it’s very or somewhat important for teachers to get fully vaccinated before going back to school to teach. 

11:35 a.m. ET, March 2, 2021

New York City mayor pushes state to expand vaccine eligibility

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press briefing in New York on March 2.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press briefing in New York on March 2. NYC Media

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called for the state to expand vaccination eligibility to include sanitation workers, lifeguards, district attorneys, courtroom staff, board of elections staff, building inspectors and New York City Housing Authority frontline staff among others. 

“The state of New York is not keeping up with the need to update… these eligibility categories,” he said during a briefing Tuesday.

De Blasio also announced that in an effort to enhance equity of distribution of the vaccine, a new vaccination site will open in Co-Op city in the Bronx Thursday.

“The Bronx has been very hard hit by the Covid crisis,” he said adding the “Bronx is often overlooked.”

The city’s top health adviser Dr. Jay Varma discussed the variants during the briefing in an effort to quell concerns.

“There may be a day when we have to do something different because of it, but right now so far the answer is clear; there’s nothing different we need people to do in New York," he said.

“Everything we know about the virus and our vaccines right now says getting vaccinated is the single best way to prevent getting severe illness and dying from this virus, and it’s the single best path all of us have together to getting back to the things we love,” Varma said.

New York City is tracking the spread of variants and also examining for new ones, with the capacity to sequence over two thousand specimens a week, he added.

New York City added 211 patients for suspected Covid-19 – which is “finally” getting close to the 200 threshold that the city desires, the mayor explained. 

The hospitalization rate is 4.3 per 100,000 people which is “still high” the mayor cautioned. The city added 3,558 confirmed and probable Covid cases, marking a 6.09% positivity both on a 7 day rolling average.

10:52 a.m. ET, March 2, 2021

More Americans are feeling hopeful about the pandemic, poll finds 

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

More Americans are feeling hopeful about the pandemic now than over the last year, according to new poll results from Axios-Ipsos published on Tuesday. 

Nearly half — 48% — of Americans said hopeful best describes their mood today, up from only 20% who felt that way over the past year, according to the poll, which was conducted Feb. 26 to March 1 and based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,088 adults ages 18 and up.

This number goes up to 61% for those who have received at least one shot of vaccine. 

The most hopeful groups are people over 65, Democrats and people who have been vaccinated. 

This can be compared to feelings over the last year, when 41% of respondents said that “stressed/worried” were the words to best describe their mood. An equal percentage said they were frustrated. Twenty-six percent said that they felt “overwhelmed/burned out,” 19% angry and 16% “sad” or “discouraged.” 

“The negative emotions are still there, but they’re less prevalent than during the past year,” said Axios — 20% said that they were stressed or worried now.  

Looking back at the past year, Democrats were more likely to report feeling stressed or overwhelmed, compared with Republicans who were more likely to report frustration and anger. 

The poll also looked at how long people thought it would take for life to get back to normal. 

They found that 65% of respondents thought that it would take at least six months to start getting back to normal. An increasing minority — 33% — expect to return to something like normal, pre-coronavirus life within the next six months. This is up from 26% last week. 

10:56 a.m. ET, March 2, 2021

Venezuela receives 500-thousand doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine

From CNN’s Stefano Pozzebon, Juan Carlos Paz and Mitchell McCluskey

A shipment of China's Sinopharm vaccine is unloaded in Caracas, Venezuela, on March 1.
A shipment of China's Sinopharm vaccine is unloaded in Caracas, Venezuela, on March 1. Manaure Quintero/Reuters

Venezuela has received 500-thousand doses of the Sinopharm vaccine developed by China, President Nicolás Maduro announced.

“With great joy I announce that at this moment 500 thousand doses of Covid-19 vaccines are arriving in Venezuela, from the People's Republic of China. This is wonderful news that fills us with great hope. Soon, we will begin the mass vaccination of our people,” Maduro said on Twitter.

The vaccines, along with a load of medical supplies, such as masks and Covid-19 tests, landed at the Simón Bolivar Airport in Caracas late Monday night, the Venezuelan government reported.

The Venezuelan Ministry of Health approved the use of the Sinopharm vaccine on Monday.

“On behalf of the People of Venezuela, I thank our brother President Xi Jinping and the noble Chinese people, for their unwavering spirit of cooperation and solidarity towards our beloved homeland,” Maduro said.

This is the second shipment of vaccines to reach Venezuela, which received 100,000 of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine in early February.

Venezuela is also in line to receive a share of vaccines through the World Health Organization’s COVAX program, but negotiations have stalled due to the political situation in the country. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), which handles COVAX distribution in the Americas, has previously said Venezuela would receive their share of vaccines as soon as their payment and delivery processes are finalized.

Venezuela currently has at least 139,545 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 1,348 recorded deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

10:19 a.m. ET, March 2, 2021

Paris mayor says a weekend lockdown would be "inhumane"

From CNN’s Antonella Francini 

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo speaks during a press conference on Monday, March 1.
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo speaks during a press conference on Monday, March 1. Jacques Witt/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo opposed the government’s proposal to impose a weekend lockdown in the French capital in an effort to fight the rise in Covid-19 cases.

“I disagreed with this proposal. A proposal that I find difficult, hard and even inhumane,” Hidalgo said in a televised address Monday. 

“Many residents here live in cramped apartments with no outdoor space, sometimes there are several generations under the same roof,” she said following a meeting with a government representative.

She offered softer proposals instead such as teaching classes outside during the week, in an effort to bring case numbers down. 

“We will make our playgrounds and public gardens available in an organized and secure way, which we can rearrange for this purpose,” she said. 

Government spokesperson Gabriel Attal has accused the Paris town hall of flip-flopping after a Paris deputy mayor advocated just last month for a strict three-week lockdown in Paris. 

The French Riviera and the metropolitan area of Dunkirk in northern France have been under weekend lockdowns since last Friday.  

President Emmanuel Macron is expected to hold a Defense council meeting Wednesday to discuss new restrictions.

9:41 a.m. ET, March 2, 2021

COVAX to deliver more than 230 million vaccine doses by end of May, WHO says

From CNN's Nina Avramova

The COVAX program will deliver 237 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to some 142 countries by the end of May, the World Health Organization's Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced today. 

COVAX is a program run by a coalition that includes the Vaccine Alliance known as Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO), and is funded by donations from governments, multilateral institutions and foundations. Its mission is to buy coronavirus vaccines in bulk and send them to poorer nations that can't compete with wealthy countries in securing contracts with the major drug companies.

During a virtual press briefing, Tedros said that when the history of the pandemic is written, Covax “will be one of its standout successes.”  

This week alone, COVAX will deliver a total of 11 million doses, according to Tedros.  

“When the Covid-19 pandemic erupted last year, we knew that vaccines would be a vital tool in bringing it under control. But we also knew from our experience with HIV, the H1N1 pandemic and other diseases that market forces alone would not deliver the equitable distribution of vaccines,” Tedros said. 

The vaccine rollout by the program is already underway, with Ghana and the Ivory Coast becoming the first countries to receive doses through COVAX last week, according to Tedros.