March 9 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Kara Fox, and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 0803 GMT (1603 HKT) March 10, 2021
21 Posts
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12:27 p.m. ET, March 9, 2021

New Yorkers age 60 and up can get a Covid-19 vaccine starting tomorrow

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo just announced that residents ages 60 and up can get vaccinated against coronavirus starting tomorrow morning.

Previously, only residents 65 and up, as well as some essential workers and some people with certain underlying conditions, were eligible for the vaccine.

Watch Gov. Cuomo:

11:22 a.m. ET, March 9, 2021

Catch up: Here's the latest on the pandemic, vaccines and US stimulus

It's just before noon on Tuesday in the US, where more than 29 million cases of coronavirus have been reported since the pandemic began.

If you're just reading in, here's what you need to know about the pandemic to start your day:

  • New CDC guidelines: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced its highly anticipated guidelines for fully vaccinated citizens on Monday. The CDC says those people can visit other vaccinated people indoors without masks or physical distancing and unvaccinated people from a single household if they are at low risk for severe disease. Still, the CDC encourages even those fully vaccinated to wear a mask, maintain social distance while in public and avoid traveling.
  • Stimulus checks: The House of Representatives is likely to have a final vote on President Biden's $1.9 trillion Covid relief plan on Wednesday. If the bill passes, it includes up to $1,400 stimulus checks to many Americans, and billions of dollars for states and municipalities, schools, small businesses and vaccine distribution.
  • Emerging variant: Even though the rate of new coronavirus cases has been decreasing since the start of the year, the highly contagious B.1.1.7 variant has spread across the US. Researchers have detected it in at least 46 states and Washington, DC. Research shows that in the US, the B.1.1.7 variant is 59% to 74% more transmissible than the original novel coronavirus.
  • Herd immunity: At the rate that the US is vaccinating, the country could reach herd immunity by summer, a CNN analysis of federal data shows. At the current pace of about 2 million shots per day — the latest seven-day average of doses administered reported by the CDC — the US could reach herd immunity by summer through vaccinations alone.
11:31 a.m. ET, March 9, 2021

US House will have final vote on Biden's Covid-19 relief package tomorrow

From CNN's Manu Raju and Lauren Fox

The US Capitol is seen in Washington, DC, on March 8.
The US Capitol is seen in Washington, DC, on March 8. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

The $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill has finally been sent to the House after a lengthy procedural process, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the matter. 

The House will give final passage to the bill Wednesday morning, according to a Democratic leadership aide. The House Rules Committee will take up the rule today, and the House will approve the rule governing floor debate tonight, the aide said.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he expects the rule to be adopted “late this afternoon,” with a vote to consider the package tomorrow at 9 a.m. ET.

House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, meanwhile, called the Covid-19 relief bill “transformative.”

“It’s transformative,” he said. “It will comprehensively and compassionately meet the moment.”

When pressed whether Democrats were taking a victory lap too early, and whether he was confident that the bill would clear the House with the Senate’s changes in it, Jeffries was bullish.

“I’m 110% confident,” he said. “And we’ll pass it hopefully with some Republican votes although, you know, that remains to be seen. What’s perplexing to a lot of us is that the American Rescue Plan is bipartisan across the country.”

If the House passes the bill, it is expected to be signed by President Biden shortly after.

What is in the bill: The nearly $2 trillion package includes up to $1,400 stimulus checks to many Americans, and billions of dollars for states and municipalities, schools, small businesses and vaccine distribution.

Roughly 90% of American households will be eligible to receive stimulus checks, according to an estimate from the Penn Wharton Budget Model. Read more about the checks here.

CNN's Kristin Wilson, Ryan Nobles and Clare Foran contributed reporting to this post. 

10:57 a.m. ET, March 9, 2021

Travel recommendations were discussed, but not included, in CDC’s guidance for fully vaccinated Americans

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Ben Tinker

A general view of the Centers for Disease Control headquarters is seen in Atlanta on April 23, 2020.
A general view of the Centers for Disease Control headquarters is seen in Atlanta on April 23, 2020. Tami Chappell/AFP/Getty Images

As the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention worked to prepare guidance for people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, the possibility of changing travel recommendations was discussed but there was never a lot of momentum behind adjusting it right now, two federal health officials familiar with the discussion tell CNN.

The CDC announced on Monday that people who are fully vaccinated:

  • Can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask
  • Can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one household without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from Covid-19
  • Do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms 

Among the things CDC said hasn’t changed: “You should still delay domestic and international travel. If you do travel, you’ll still need to follow CDC requirements and recommendations.”

“Early data show that the vaccines may help keep people from spreading COVID-19, but we are learning more are more people get vaccinated,” the CDC added.

10:32 a.m. ET, March 9, 2021

New York City has administered more than 2.4 million Covid-19 vaccine doses, mayor says

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New York City Mayor Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press briefing in New York on March 9.
New York City Mayor Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press briefing in New York on March 9. NYC Media

New York City has administered over 2.4 million vaccinations, with nearly 340,000 having been administered last week alone, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

The mayor said the city's Vaccine for All Corps "continues to grow,” hiring 2,000 New Yorkers “right away” to work at sites throughout the city.

Recruitment is underway, and 2,500 applications were submitted within the first five days.

10:13 a.m. ET, March 9, 2021

CDC guidelines for vaccinated people are a “huge emotional release,” former acting director says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

A patient receives a dose of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine on March 6, in Thornton, Colorado. 
A patient receives a dose of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine on March 6, in Thornton, Colorado.  Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

The new CDC guidelines for people who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 are a “huge, huge emotional release and lift" Dr. Richard Besser, former acting director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on NBC’s “Today” show on Tuesday.

“I’m excited about these guidelines,” Besser, who is now president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie. “I think it gives us a cautious step forward and an emotional release in the sense that we really, truly are on the road out of this pandemic.”

He offered the example of elderly people who may be socially isolated, saying that they now know that if they are fully vaccinated, they can get together with friends who are also fully vaccinated, and they can hug their grandchildren.

Besser spoke about his own parents, both in their early 90s, and said that he knew for them that “getting two doses of vaccine, being fully vaccinated, now knowing they can get together with other people, that’s a huge, huge emotional release and lift.”

10:01 a.m. ET, March 9, 2021

Houston Police Chief calls lifting statewide mask mandate "a step in the wrong direction"

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo speaks with CNN on Tuesday, March 9. 
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo speaks with CNN on Tuesday, March 9.  CNN

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo called Texas governor’s decision to lift statewide mask mandate a “step in the wrong direction” and added that he expects it will lead to an uptick in calls to his department for service and conflict.

“In this state, businesses have property rights. And so you know, ‘no mask, no service’ means you can't be in that business,” he said. “So if a person does not want to wear the mask and refuses to wear the mask and refuses to leave, they’re committing what’s called criminal trespass.”

He added:

“I can assure you that we’re going to start seeing our calls for service and conflict go up — conflict that can be avoided by simply continuing to follow the science and being patient. We're almost to that finish line. I think this is a step in the wrong direction,” he told CNN. 

He said he hopes Texans will observe voluntary compliance but he can still see some cases of conflict “and the cops will be stuck in the middle like we always are.”

“We've already seen … a glass broken over [an employee’s] head simply for asking someone to wear the mask. We have another restaurant where the owner is calling me where they're talking about calling ICE on their employees because they've chosen to follow the science and keep their customers healthy. And so the conflict is coming. It was avoidable. This was unnecessary and unfortunately, something else that will be on our plate moving forward,” he said Tuesday.

Acevedo also criticized Gov. Greg Abbott for lifting the mandate for “political theatre.”

“He's going to continue to wear his mask, is my understanding because he understands the risk to his own health. If it's good enough for him to wear a mask, I'm not sure why he doesn't care enough about the rest of Texans to continue to follow the science,” he said.

Watch the interview:

10:21 a.m. ET, March 9, 2021

More Americans think that there will be a return to normal within the next 6 months, poll finds 

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Fans sit in designated rectangles to encourage social distancing during the first spring training game between the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers, Florida, on February 28.
Fans sit in designated rectangles to encourage social distancing during the first spring training game between the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers, Florida, on February 28. Alex Driehaus/Naples Daily News/USA Today Network

The number of Americans who think there will be a return to normal within the next six months or sooner is increasing, according to new poll results from Axios-Ipsos released Tuesday. Now, 40% of respondents think that’s the case, compared with 26% in late January.

And the number who think it will take a year or more to return to normal is more decreasing, now 17% compared with 30% in late January. The poll, which was conducted March 5 to 8, was based on a nationally representative sample of 1,001 Americans age 18 and over.  

In the poll, 20% say they don’t know when they will return to pre-coronavirus activity levels for in-person gatherings outside their household or dining at a restaurant. The rest have a mix of responses — 30% say they already have attended in-person gatherings, 29% said they will once they or everyone in their circle has been vaccinated, 21% say they will when officials say it is safe, and 20% don’t know.

As 25% of respondents reported getting the vaccine, the vast majority of respondents say that they will continue public health measures even after being vaccinated, with 81% saying they would continue to wear a mask, 66% continuing to social distance and 87% saying they will continue frequent hand washing or sanitizing. 

As these numbers are changing, so are the number of Americans staying home and avoiding contact with others and engaging in social interactions outside the home. 

The number of Americans who say they are avoiding contact, 13%, is at its lowest since October, and down six points from a month ago. The number of Americans who have visited family or friends in the past week — 44% — is up seven points from a month ago. 

The poll also looked at personal benefits experienced since the start of the pandemic. It found 36% said spending more time at home was the biggest personal benefit experienced, 33% said spending less/saving more was the biggest personal benefit, and a quarter noted spending more time with family.  

There was also “some cautious optimism” around finances, with fewer people saying that their ability to pay their rent or mortgage had gotten worse, and a lower number of people saying they have been temporarily furloughed or suspended from work.

Finally, the poll looked at how the pandemic has affected dreams. It found that 1 in 3 Americans reported strange or vivid dreams in the last month, one-quarter had stressful or frightening dreams and fewer than 1 in 10 had coronavirus-specific dreams.

9:18 a.m. ET, March 9, 2021

About 60% of people age 65 and older have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine in US

From CNN's Ben Tinker

A registered nurse administers a Covid-19 vaccine dose at Allen Senior Citizens Housing Complex in New York City, on February 20.
A registered nurse administers a Covid-19 vaccine dose at Allen Senior Citizens Housing Complex in New York City, on February 20. Anthony Behar/Sipa USA/AP

About 60% of people age 65 and older have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine the United States, a CNN analysis of data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Census Bureau indicates.

About 30% of US residents age 65 and older are fully vaccinated, meaning they have either received two shots of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The proportion of people over age 65 who have been vaccinated in the US is about three-fold the general population.

This is important because the risk of severe disease in death increases significantly as a person gets older.

People ages 65-74 are 35 times more likely to be hospitalized and 1,100 times more likely to die from Covid-19, compared to someone who is 5-17 years old, according to the CDC.

People ages 75-84 are 55 times more likely to be hospitalized and 2,800 times more likely to die. People ages 85 and older are 80 times more likely to be hospitalized and 7,900 times more likely to die.