CDC releases new guidelines for Americans vaccinated against Covid-19

By Ben Westcott, Brett McKeehan, Kara Fox, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 0103 GMT (0903 HKT) March 9, 2021
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1:35 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Wyoming is removing its statewide mask requirement, governor says

From CNN’s Will Brown

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon gives the State of the State address on March 2.
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon gives the State of the State address on March 2. Michael Cummo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle via AP

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon announced that he is removing the statewide mask requirement and allowing restaurants, bars, theaters, and gyms to resume normal operations starting March 16.

Gordon pointed to declining numbers of active Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations, as well as the state’s vaccine rollout, as reasons for the changes.

The governor encouraged Wyoming citizens to “continue to take personal responsibility for their actions and stay diligent,” including by wearing masks indoors and observing requests by private businesses.

Gordon is keeping the state’s mask requirement in place for K-12 schools.

Wyoming joins states such as Texas and Mississippi that are removing statewide mask mandates despite criticism from President Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci.

1:16 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Iraq extends Covid-19 restrictive measures for two more weeks

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq

Iraq extended a series of restrictive measures announced last month for two more weeks due to increasing Covid-19 infections, the Iraqi health ministry said in a statement on Monday.

The measures include a full curfew on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between March 9 through March 22.

Restaurants and cafes will be closed for dining but will allow pick-up services. All entertainment venues will be closed for two more weeks, including indoor parks, cinemas, sports halls, and swimming pools.

On Monday, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported 4,468 new coronavirus cases. It brings the total number of cases in Iraq to at least 731,016.

The health ministry also reported 16 Covid-related deaths bringing the total number of fatalities in Iraq to at least 13,596 since the pandemic began.

There are currently 52,959 Covid-19 patients hospitalized across the county, among them 413 cases in intensive care.

1:23 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Chicago will allow some fans back into baseball stadiums in April, mayor says

From CNN's Konstantin Toropin

The Chicago Cubs take on the Chicago White Sox in an empty Wrigley Field on July 19.
The Chicago Cubs take on the Chicago White Sox in an empty Wrigley Field on July 19. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced today that fans will be allowed back into baseball stadiums for Opening Day of the 2021 season on April 1.

"Folks, we've significantly slowed the spread of COVID, getting our positivity rate down to 2.8%," Lightfoot wrote in a tweet.

"And now, we can begin to safely welcome fans back to our baseball stands on opening day," she added. 

The Chicago White Sox said that they will "welcome a limited number of fans, approximately 20% of Guaranteed Rate Field’s total capacity, in physically distanced seating pods at home games," in a statement today.

The Chicago Cubs also announced that "the team is approved to host 20% of Wrigley Field's capacity beginning with the April 1 home opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates," in a statement today.

Both teams noted that they will be enforcing masking for all fans and that they will employ "pod-style seating for physical distancing."

Lightfoot herself also said that "although we’re reopening, masking is still of utmost importance" in her tweet.

See the mayor's tweet:

12:39 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Pennsylvania has administered almost 3 million vaccine doses

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

Pennsylvania has administered nearly 3 million total Covid-19 vaccination doses, according to the state health department.

It has fully vaccinated almost 1 million people, according to statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Pennsylvania has been allocated 4,179,220 doses through March 13, and has administered 2,981,190 total doses through March 7, the Pennsylvania Department of Health said.

Pennsylvania added a two-day total of 3,176 cases, as well as 39 deaths. 

12:34 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Biden will deliver primetime address Thursday to mark one-year of Covid-19 shutdown

From CNN's Betsy Klein

President Joe Biden gives an address at the White House on March 6, in Washington, DC.
President Joe Biden gives an address at the White House on March 6, in Washington, DC. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Biden will deliver his first primetime address on Thursday, commemorating the milestone of one year since coronavirus became a global pandemic, shutting down much of the nation and changing the course of history.

“The President will deliver his first primetime address to commemorate the one year anniversary of the Covid-19 shutdown on Thursday. He will discuss the many sacrifices the American people have made over the last year and the grave loss communities and families across the country have suffered,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at Monday’s briefing.

She said Biden looks forward to “highlighting the role that Americans will play in beating the virus and moving the country toward getting back to normal.” 

12:04 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Italy becomes 6th country to record more than 100,000 Covid-19 deaths

From CNN’s Nicola Ruotolo in Rome 

A Civil Protection member walks past the coffins of Covid-19 victims in Ponte San Pietro, Italy, on April 7, 2020.
A Civil Protection member walks past the coffins of Covid-19 victims in Ponte San Pietro, Italy, on April 7, 2020. Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images

Italy’s coronavirus death toll topped 100,000 on Monday, making it the sixth country to do so, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Italian Health Ministry data showed the country registered a further 318 deaths in the 24 hours to Monday, which takes the total during the pandemic to 100,103.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi Monday recalled how a year ago, on March 10, Italy was the first western country to declare a Red Zone with hard lockdown measures.

“We would never have thought that a year later we would still be facing a similar emergency and that the official death toll would have approached the terrible threshold of 100,000 dead,” he said in a video message to a gender equality conference.

“The pandemic has not yet been defeated, but with the acceleration of the vaccination plan, a way out is not far away,” Draghi said, thanking Italian citizens for their patience and discipline, especially the ones who are suffering economic consequences from the pandemic.

He said the country is seeing a rise in numbers of cases. The Italian Health Ministry said last week that the UK variant was becoming prevalent. 

In the past 24 hours, 13,092 new infections were recorded, and ICU occupancy is up to 2,700 — 95 more than a day earlier.

Almost 5.5 million doses of vaccine have been administered in the country, but Draghi said he aims to speed up the vaccination schedule.

11:44 a.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Vaccinated Americans should still avoid travel, CDC head says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

People who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 are still encouraged to avoid travel, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a White House briefing on Monday.

"Every time there's a surge in travel, we have a surge in cases in this country," Walensky said. "We are really trying to restrain travel at this current period of time, and we're hopeful that our next set of guidance will have more science around what vaccinated people can do."
12:08 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021

CDC director says they will continue to update their guidance for vaccinated people

Dr. Rochelle Walensky speaks during a news conference at the Queen Theater on December 8, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky speaks during a news conference at the Queen Theater on December 8, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky said the new guidance released today on what activities are safe for fully vaccinated people represents the "first step."

"It is not our final destination," Walensky said.

She added, "As more people get vaccinated, levels of Covid infection decline in communities and as our understanding of Covid immunity improves" they will be updating their guidance.

Some more context: In summary, fully vaccinated people can visit with other fully vaccinated people, indoors without wearing a mask or physical distancing. Fully vaccinated people can also visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are low risk for severe Covid-19 disease, indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.

Walensky said that fully vaccinated people should continue to wear masks and social distance when they're out in public and avoid medium and large-sized gatherings.

11:36 a.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Rio de Janeiro ICU occupancy reaches 96%, official says

From Marcia Reverdosa in Sao Paulo

The occupancy rate of ICU beds peaked this week in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, reaching 96% occupancy on Sunday, according to data from the Health Secretary of the State.

As of Sunday, the city has 616 ICU beds dedicated to Covid-19 care.

Hospitals across the country have faced an ICU occupancy crisis as variants of the virus spread and the vaccine is slowly rolled out.

The mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes, announced that new restrictive measures went into effect on Friday including people not being allowed on the street between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. local time, limited hours of operation for bars and restaurants and a ban on events or parties in public and private areas, among others.

The mayor emphasized that the new measures were taken preventively, to avoid something more rigid, such as a full lockdown.

Though the ICU occupancy rate for the state of Rio is around 73%, eight other of its cities have already collapsed. Bom Jesus, Miracema, Paraíba do Sul, Rio das Ostras, Saquarema, Sapucaia, Teresópolis and Três Rios have all run out of ICU beds, according to the Rio state health secretary data.

CNN has asked the government what measures are being taken to address the possible collapse of healthcare in the city of Rio de Janeiro, but has not heard back.

Rio de Janeiro state has nearly 600,000 cases of Covid-19 confirmed and 33,717 deaths, according to its health secretary on Sunday.