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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4:39 p.m. ET, March 2, 2021

There will be enough vaccine doses for every adult in America by May, Biden says

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

President Joe Biden said that there will be enough vaccine supply for every adult in America by the end of May, thanks to ramped up production and the authorization of a third vaccine by Johnson & Johnson.

"About three weeks ago, we were able to say we will have enough vaccine supply for adults by the end of July. I'm pleased to announce today as a consequence of this stepped-up process that I've ordered and just outlined, this country will have enough vaccine supply – I'll say it again – for every adult in America by the end of May," he said on Tuesday.

"That's progress, important progress," Biden added.

He also announced a new partnership between Merck and Johnson & Johnson to speed up vaccine production. The federal government will be involved in the partnership and has invoked the Defense Production Act.

Biden said two of Merck's facilities will be converted into production facilities for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, adding that they will operate 24/7.

He also said he asked the Defense Department to provide logistical support.

4:26 p.m. ET, March 2, 2021

Ohio loosens mass gathering health orders

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Stephanie McCloud signed two public health orders today, revising mass gathering health orders in the state.

According to the new orders, events at banquet centers will no longer have a 300-person limitation, as long as they comply with other health orders. Wedding receptions, funeral repasts, proms, and other events will still be required to follow health orders such as masks wearing.

The second amended order, that provides mandatory requirements for youth, collegiate, amateur, club, and professional sports and for entertainment venues, includes changes such as setting the seated capacity limit for indoor sports and entertainment venues at 25%.

The maximum number of spectators that will be allowed in any outdoor sports and entertainment venue will now be 30% of fixed, seated capacity.

According to the governor’s office, both orders are effective starting at 12:01 p.m. today.

4:19 p.m. ET, March 2, 2021

Michigan governor easing Covid-19 restriction ahead of Johnson & Johnson vaccine shipment

From CNN’s Alec Snyder

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, right, speaks during a press briefing in Lansing, Michigan, on March 2.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, right, speaks during a press briefing in Lansing, Michigan, on March 2. CNN

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced on Tuesday a series of eased Covid-19 restrictions to take effect March 5, both in light of a forthcoming shipment of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines and improved positivity rates and cases.

Whitmer said Michigan has administered 2,269,495 Covid-19 vaccines so far. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said the state expects to receive 82,700 doses of the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

However, Whitmer cautioned that after this week, they will receive far fewer doses as the company works to manufacture the doses simultaneously with distribution.

She also said Michigan is equitably distributing at least 50,000 shots per day to underrepresented groups, a metric the state has met for 16 days. Additionally, Khaldun said the state has vaccinated over 45% of its residents age 65 and over.

Here are some of the restriction changes:

  • Michigan will reopen restaurants and bars at 50% capacity, up from 25%. Up to six people may sit at a single table, and tables must be distanced six feet apart, Whitmer said.
  • All restaurants will have a 11 p.m. curfew. 
  • Michigan will also allow visitations at nursing homes, with up to two visitors allowed per resident, provided there has not been a positive case at the nursing home in the preceding 14 days.
  • Capacity limits in retail, casinos, gyms, stadiums and other entertainment and recreational facilities will also increase, Whitmer said.

The latest numbers: Khaldun said Michigan has had a 3.7% positivity rate over the last week. Inpatient hospitalizations remain down as well, at 3.9%, and both metrics are similar to where the state was in October, she said.

However, Michigan is still bracing with the introduction of the B.1.1.7 variant of the virus. So far, it has identified 422 cases of the variant, two-thirds of which have been associated with a correctional facility outbreak, Khaldun said. Other cases in the state are not traceable, though.

Note: These numbers were released by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

4:07 p.m. ET, March 2, 2021

Mississippi governor lifting county mask mandates starting tomorrow

From CNN’s Carma Hassan

Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves speaks at the Governor's Mansion in Jackson, Mississippi, on June 30, 2020.
Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves speaks at the Governor's Mansion in Jackson, Mississippi, on June 30, 2020. Rogelio V. Solis/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced the state is lifting their county mask mandates and allowing businesses to operate at full capacity starting tomorrow.

“Starting tomorrow, we are lifting all of our county mask mandates and businesses will be able to operate at full capacity without any state-imposed rules. Our hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted, and the vaccine is being rapidly distributed. It is time!,” the governor said in a tweet.

Read the tweet:

3:58 p.m. ET, March 2, 2021

Go There: CNN is in Mexico City answering your questions about Latin America's Covid-19 vaccine supply

Latin America is increasingly relying on Russia and China for Covid-19 vaccines. Meanwhile, the White House said on Monday that President Biden is not considering sharing part of the US coronavirus vaccine supply with Mexico.

CNN's international correspondent Matt Rivers was live from Mexico City, answering your questions about the region's vaccine supply and distribution.

Watch more:

3:35 p.m. ET, March 2, 2021

Alaska will receive 8,900 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine

From CNN's Juliana Battaglia

Alaska has ordered 8,900 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson Vaccine, the state's chief medical officer, Anne Zink, tweeted Tuesday.

From that total, 3,000 vaccines will be allocated to Native American tribes for the Sovereign Nations Supplement, Zink explained in an email to CNN.

The state's Federal Pharmacy Partnership will also receive doses of the vaccine. 

"Currently, we can see that the federal pharmacy partnership has been allocated 1800 doses of J&J/Janssen for Alaska to start," Zink said. 

She noted that this number is separate and in addition to the 8,900 doses the state is expecting.

However, Zink noted that the exact time of arrival and administration of the doses is unknown.

3:55 p.m. ET, March 2, 2021

CNN interviews 86-year-old Ohio patient who just received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine

From CNN's Pete Muntean and Greg Wallace


CNN's Pete Muntean is in the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio, speaking to individuals who just received their first Johnson and Johnson single-dose vaccine.

He spoke to 86-year-old Barbara Schmalenberger about her experience getting vaccinated today.

"Oh, it's exciting. It's great, and I don't even feel a thing. A while ago just a little bit of warmth and then that was it. It faded away and — and I don't even feel like I had a shot now," she said.

Schmalenberger told him why she had specifically been waiting for the Johnson and Johnson shot.

"It's better because it's one shot and also a very trusted name from clear back from when my children were babies, so it's just – something just kept telling me to wait on this," she said.

She said her journey to get vaccinated has been emotional.

“I called yesterday and I was on the phone with them a long time, I was crying because I was upset because I couldn't find out when I could get this shot and I wanted this shot. I didn't want to settle for anything else," she told CNN.

Schmalenberger also shared a message for people who may be reluctant to get a vaccine. 

"You need to get it because it protects you, with all these viruses and everything going around, people can't be what they want to be. They can't go out. They can't do things. I haven't been able to go out to dinner in a restaurant like I love to do and all of those things, and for your health you need to get it, but also, too, get the one that you're the most – you feel the best about, and I felt the best about this from day one," she said.

More about the vaccine: Johnson & Johnson's single-dose coronavirus vaccine is the third Covid-19 shot authorized for use in the US. The US Food and Drug Administration authorized the vaccine Saturday, and it began to be administered across the country this week.

The vaccine, made by Janssen, ,J&J's vaccine arm, was found to be safe and effective, and it doesn't require special storage. The vaccine is authorized for people ages 18 and older.

CNN's Jen Christensen contributed reporting to this post.

Watch the moment here:

3:14 p.m. ET, March 2, 2021

Texas governor ends statewide mask mandate

From CNN’s Chris Boyette

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a press conference in Lubbock, Texas, on March 2.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a press conference in Lubbock, Texas, on March 2. KCBD

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Tuesday that rescinds most of the previous executive orders dealing with Covid-19, including the statewide mask mandate.

“It is clear from the recoveries, from the vaccinations, from the reduced hospitalizations and from the safe practices that Texans are using, that state mandates are no longer needed,” Abbott said at a news conference.

Also, effective March 10, all businesses of any kind are allowed to open 100%, the governor said.

1:11 p.m. ET, March 2, 2021

In final step, CDC publishes Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine recommendation

From CNN's Jen Christensen

This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States.
This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. Johnson & Johnson/AP

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took the final step to sign off on the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine Tuesday, publishing the vaccine recommendation in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine was given emergency use authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration Saturday. On Sunday, the CDC’s independent Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices unanimously voted to recommend the coronavirus vaccine, and CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky accepted the recommendation. 

The MMWR publication represents the final and official CDC recommendation for immunization of the US population.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the first single-dose Covid-19 vaccine authorized in the United States. It can be used to vaccinate Americans who are 18 years old and older.

The report said that the vaccine, made by Janssen, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine division, “is a reasonable and efficient allocation of resources” during the pandemic.

“The Janssen COVID-19 vaccine has high efficacy against COVID-19–associated hospitalization and death. Persons may receive any ACIP-recommended COVID-19 vaccine and are encouraged to receive the earliest vaccine available to them. Use of all EUA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines is critical in controlling the pandemic,” the report said.

The CDC did not recommend the vaccine for one population group over the other, but its characteristics – the single dose that doesn’t need special refrigeration – should help states expand the availability of Covid-19 vaccines to “most community settings and mobile sites” once it is more widely available. The report also said the J&J vaccine might be good for people who would have a hard time returning to get a second dose, as would be needed for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

“The feasibility of administering the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in a wider variety of settings provides an opportunity to improve equitable access to an effective COVID-19 vaccine,” the report said.

Four million doses of the vaccine are now being shipped to the states.