Live Updates

The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines

By Jessie Yeung and Brett McKeehan, CNN

Updated 0306 GMT (1106 HKT) March 6, 2021
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2:58 p.m. ET, March 5, 2021

Arizona governor lifts occupancy limits on business, but keeps mask rules in place

From CNN's Konstantin Toropin

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey speaks during a press conference at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix on December 16, 2020.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey speaks during a press conference at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix on December 16, 2020. David Wallace/The Arizona Republic/USA Today Network

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced he is lifting occupancy limits on business in a new executive order announced today.

Ducey's new order, which applies to "restaurants, gyms, theaters, water parks, bowling alleys, and bars providing dine in services," removes occupancy percentage limitations, a statement from his office explained.

Additionally, according to the statement, spring training and Major League Sports will have the ability to operate after getting a safety precaution and physical distancing plan approved by the state's Department of Health Services

However, the new order keeps in place physical distancing and mask protocols, but local officials will still be "precluded from implementing extreme measures that shut down businesses."

Ducey cited "7 weeks of declining cases in Arizona and the distribution of more than 2 million vaccines" as part of the reason for the move.

“Today’s announcement is a measured approach; we are not in the clear yet," Ducey said in his statement. 

"We need to continue practicing personal responsibility," he added. 

The relaxing of regulations follows a Wednesday executive order that required Arizona schools to offer in-person learning by March 15.

Earlier this week, nearby Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced he would be lifting the mask mandate and "opening Texas 100 percent" while Mississippi also lifted its county specific mask mandates.

2:19 p.m. ET, March 5, 2021

Italy has recorded more than 3 million coronavirus cases since the the pandemic began

From CNN's Nicola Ruotolo

Italy has recorded more than 3 million coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest figures released by the Italian Health Ministry on Friday.

The data shows a daily increase of 24,036 cases in the past 24 hours, the highest daily rise since Dec. 4. This brings the total figure of people who have been infected with the virus to at least 3,023,129.

The number of new deaths reported from Covid-19 is 297, bringing the total in Italy to 99,271.

The country is seeing a rise in cases because of the variants present in the country, especially the UK variant which has become prevalent. Studies have shown that on Feb. 18 it represented 54% of the cases.

With the number of infections rising, the country’s R rate has increased and now has increased past 1, sitting at 1.06. 

Italian authorities have tried to curb the spread of the virus by tightening restrictions in some regions. On Tuesday, the government ordered all schools in the country’s worst-hit coronavirus hotspots to close from March 6 until 6 April.

1:42 p.m. ET, March 5, 2021

UK health secretary announces almost 110 million dollars in support for mental health

From CNN's Zahid Mahmood

Health Secretary, Matt Hancock speaks at the government coronavirus briefing at Downing Street on March 5 in London.
Health Secretary, Matt Hancock speaks at the government coronavirus briefing at Downing Street on March 5 in London. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced an amount equivalent to $109 million dollars to boost support for mental health services, in particular for young people who he says the pandemic has been an “anxious time.” 

"Monday will be a long-awaited day for many people, but for some it's also a moment of unease and anxiety,” Hancock said.

“Growing up is tough enough even at the best of times so in these very difficult times it’s been even tougher. Home schooling, being unable to meet up with friends, not having regular sport and being stuck at home.”

Hancock added the government has worked hard at keeping mental health services open during the pandemic and the new funding will benefit up to three million people. 

“We will be working hard to make sure people get access to the support they need [in schools] and expanding mental health access to the support the need in the community too,” he said.

Hancock commented on the UK’s vaccination success where as of midnight last night 21.3 million people have been vaccinated. Hancock also previewed the first phase of Monday’s restrictions lifting on care homes.

“I am just so pleased that we are re able to re-open care homes to visiting. We’ve put in place a really careful policy, so each care home resident will be able to register a single regular visitor, who will be tested, and wear PPE but will be able to visit,” he added.

1:46 p.m. ET, March 5, 2021

Go There: CNN answers viewers' questions about Mississippi's roll back of Covid-19 restrictions

Mississippi, like Texas, has already rolled back its mask mandate and lifted Covid-19 restrictions, despite warnings from health officials against reopening too soon. 

The CDC director urged people to keep masking and distancing "regardless of what states decide." President Biden, meanwhile, criticized states such as Texas and Mississippi for lifting their Covid-19 restrictions against pleas from top public health officials, accusing those in power of "Neanderthal thinking."

CNN's national correspondent Ryan Young was live outside a vaccination center in Jackson, Mississippi, reporting about the state's mass vaccination efforts and answering viewers' questions about the Covid-19 restrictions lifted in the state.

WATCH:

12:15 p.m. ET, March 5, 2021

Mexico will begin using China’s Sinovac coronavirus vaccine

From CNN’s Natalie Gallon

A vial of the Sinovac vaccine against COVID-19 is pictured at the Habitat nursing home in Medellin, Colombia, on February 26.
A vial of the Sinovac vaccine against COVID-19 is pictured at the Habitat nursing home in Medellin, Colombia, on February 26. Joaquin Sarmiento/AFP/Getty Images

Mexico will begin to administer China’s Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine starting this weekend, the country’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard, said.

“Good news: we received the Certificate of Analysis for the Sinovac vaccine. It can be applied from this weekend throughout the country,” Ebrard said on his official Twitter account Friday. 

Sinovac will be the fourth vaccine to be administered in Mexico as the country is already using Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZenica and Sputnik V.

The country's latest figures: Mexico continues to have the third largest death toll in the world with at least 188,866 Covid-19 deaths and 2,112,508 confirmed cases according to Johns Hopkins University, though the country has started to see a decline in both.

They have administered a total of at least 2,676,035 doses throughout the country according to Mexico’s Ministry of Health.

 

12:05 p.m. ET, March 5, 2021

Czech Republic asks Germany, Poland and Switzerland for help treating its Covid-19 patients 

From CNN’s Ivana Kottasova

The Czech government has asked Germany, Poland and Switzerland for help in treating coronavirus patients by allowing them to be transferred there, according to statement from the Health Ministry released on Friday.

The Czech Health Ministry stated that the already high number of newly infected patients continues to rise in the country and that many hospitals have ran out of capacity, with only 14% of intensive care unit beds currently available

“We are in a situation nobody wanted to end up in," Czech Health Minister Jan Blatny said in the statement. 

"Despite increasing hospital capacities to the maximum possible, despite maximizing the use of health care staff and despite their enormous effort, we have reached the limit. Hospitals in some regions have already ran out of capacities and are no longer able to provide adequate care without the help of other health care facilities," he added.

No patients have been transferred yet, the Czech Health Ministry confirmed. 

The government also announced it has called some medical and health care students to begin working in hospitals to help with staff shortages.

11:53 a.m. ET, March 5, 2021

CDC director says guidance for people who have been vaccinated will be released "soon"

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Dr. Rochelle Walensky speaks during the White House Covid-19 briefing on March 5.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky speaks during the White House Covid-19 briefing on March 5. The White House

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the agency's guidance for people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 is still in the works and coming soon.

"These are complex issues and the science is rapidly evolving. CDC is working to ensure that the communication we release on this guidance are clear and that the American public can act on them," Walensky said during Friday's virtual White House briefing.

The guidance had been expected to release this week. 

"Our goal and what is most important is that people who have been vaccinated and those not yet vaccinated are able to understand the steps they can take to protect themselves and their loved ones," Walensky said. "We will be releasing this guidance soon."

11:47 a.m. ET, March 5, 2021

Arizona vaccinates more than 2 million people

From CNN's Konstantin Toropin

Motorists get vaccinated for Covid-19 at a drive-thru vaccination site in Glendale, Arizona, on January 12.
Motorists get vaccinated for Covid-19 at a drive-thru vaccination site in Glendale, Arizona, on January 12. Ross D. Frankli/AP

Arizona has administered more than two million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine as of this morning, according to a statement from the state's Department of Health Services. 

"As of this morning, 2,016,512 doses had been administered to 1,312,951 individuals, including 711,074 who have received both doses," the statement said.

As of the last census, Arizona had a population of 7.2 million people, making the 1.3 million vaccinated people about 18% of the state's population.

“This is certainly a milestone, but there is plenty of work ahead and millions more Arizonans in need of vaccination,” Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said in the statement. 

Almost a quarter of all the vaccine doses were given out at large, state-run sites around Phoenix and one in Tucson, the statement noted.

The announcement comes on the heels of Arizona's Governor, Doug Ducey, issuing an executive order that requires schools to offer in-person learning by March 15 earlier this week.

1:04 p.m. ET, March 5, 2021

FEMA will support two new vaccination sites in Atlanta and Cleveland

From CNN's Betsy Klein

The Biden administration announced two new Federal Emergency Management Agency-supported high-volume vaccination sites in Georgia and Ohio, part of ongoing efforts to quickly ramp up its ability to get shots into arms as vaccine supply is expected to increase.

FEMA will support vaccinations at the Mercedes Benz stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, Ohio, White House senior Covid adviser Andy Slavitt said at Friday’s Covid briefing. 

The sites will each have the capacity to deliver 6,000 shots per day.

The announcement is another effort to distribute vaccines more equitably, with Slavitt noting that both “sit in neighborhoods hit hard by the pandemic” and the arenas are “well-known in the community.”

The two additional sites brings the total of FEMA-supported sites to 18 sites across seven states with the ability to administer more than 60,000 shots per day, per Slavitt.