Cases of Covid-19 in children decline for the seventh consecutive week
From CNN’s Naomi Thomas
Cases of Covid-19 in children have declined for the seventh consecutive week, with at least 63,562 cases being reported last week, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP notes this is a “much smaller drop” than the previous six weeks.
Children make up about 13.2% of all Covid cases, and at least 3,231,836 children have tested positive since the onset of the pandemic.
In the 11 states that reported testing, children have made up between 6% and 18.5% of total state tests, with 5.3% to 30.7% of children who were tested testing positive.
Since states began reporting, between 1.3% and 3% of all hospitalizations were children, with between 0.1% and 2.2% of child Covid-19 cases leading to hospitalization. This is based on data from 23 states and New York City.
Overall, children made up zero to 0.19% of all Covid-19 deaths. Ten states reported no child deaths. Under 0.05% of all child Covid-19 cases resulted in death, AAP says. Mortality was reported from 43 states, New York City and Guam.
4:23 p.m. ET, March 9, 2021
Novavax on track to have US and Mexico Phase 3 trial data in April, company says
From CNN's Jacqueline Howard
Biotechnology company Novavax still expects to see results from its PREVENT-19 trial, a Phase 3 study of its Covid-19 vaccine in the United States and Mexico, sometime in April. The trial has enrolled 30,000 volunteers across more than 100 locations.
“Everybody's enrolled and now we're watching for cases,” Dr. Gregory Glenn, president of research and development for Novavax, told CNN on Tuesday.
“I think sometime in the April timeframe we'll have finished that trial. So, we'll have three pivotal trials testing our vaccine — that's extremely important for evidence that your vaccine is safe and can work,” Glenn said.
In January, the American biotech firm announced that its Covid-19 vaccine was found to have an overall efficacy of 89.3% in a Phase 3 clinical trial conducted in the United Kingdom, where it was found to have 95.6% efficacy against the original coronavirus strain and 85.6% against the variant strain first identified in the UK.
The coronavirus vaccine was not among the first authorized in the United States because the company faced some challenges in building the staff needed to develop such a new vaccine, Glenn said.
"We were a small company," Glenn said.
In January of last year, around the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the Maryland-based company recruited more staff to work on developing its Covid-19 vaccine in response to the health crisis, Glenn said.
“We had to recruit people, and our funding was kind of low,” Glenn said. “In addition to all the challenges of developing the vaccine, which is really complicated, we had the challenge to build a company.”
Glenn added that Novavax has “reached a really good point now” with building the company and developing the vaccine. The company still expects to apply for emergency use authorization for its Covid-19 vaccine sometime in the second quarter of this year.
4:00 p.m. ET, March 9, 2021
No unexpected outcomes from Covid-19 vaccination during pregnancy so far, CDC vaccine safety lead says
From CNN's Virginia Langmaid
Current data suggests that women who are pregnant should feel comfortable receiving a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the head of Covid-19 vaccine safety for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The data we have so far are reassuring. We do not see any signs of a safety problem in pregnant women — both with respect to the pregnant women individually and with respect to the developing fetus,” Dr. Tom Shimabukuro, vaccine safety lead with the Covid-19 Response Team at the CDC, said. “No unexpected pregnancy or infant outcomes have been observed related to Covid-19 vaccination during pregnancy.”
A health official also addressed the vaccine's impact on breast milk.
“There are no concerns that the vaccine would be in the breast milk or be dangerous to a breastfeeding infant,” Dr. Kathleen Dooling, a co-lead on the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices with the CDC, said.
Shimabukuro said that despite the small amount of clinical data on Covid-19 vaccinations and pregnancy, pregnant people should consider the risks of contracting Covid-19 as well.
“There is evidence that pregnant women are at increased risk for complications from Covid infection and or increased risk for more severe disease. There is also some evidence that Covid infection may increase the risk of certain pregnancy birth outcomes,” he said. “So, I think in order to protect both the mother and the developing baby, I think it’s important that the women get vaccinated.”
3:31 p.m. ET, March 9, 2021
CDC director to US business leaders: “Now is certainly not the time to relax restrictions”
From CNN’s Christopher Rios
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, urged business leaders to continue key public health measures to stop the spread of Covid-19. She spoke Tuesday during the Health Action Alliance National Business Summit.
“Now is certainly not the time to relax restrictions on these measures. March and April are going to be pivotal times,” Walensky said. “Where the pandemic goes from here is really dependent on our collective behaviors and continued commitment to follow the public health measures we know work to stop the spread of the virus: wearing well-fitted masks, avoiding traveling in crowds, social distancing and washing hands.”
She encouraged business to provide employees with face masks and also address vaccine hesitancy in the workplace.
“We are encouraged by the remarkable progress to date, but we continue to face challenges, including constrained vaccines supply, ongoing vaccine hesitancy and increasing myths and disinformation related to COVID-19 vaccines,” she said.
Walensky called on businesses to address misinformation by highlighting the unprecedented scale of the vaccine trials, which included over 100,000 participants, and the intensive vaccine safety monitoring program.
“The government alone, the CDC alone, cannot achieve the monumental task of stopping this pandemic,” she said. “The monumental task of vaccinating 300 million Americans. We need partners like you to share in the collective actions to restore health and economic prosperity.”
3:09 p.m. ET, March 9, 2021
ICUs in half of Brazil's states are at more than 90% occupancy, according to regional health authorities
From CNN's Marcia Reverdosa and Shasta Darlington in Sao Paulo
The latest figures on intensive care unit capacity in Brazil, where the healthcare system is on the verge of collapse amid a surging second wave, are grim.
Here is a breakdown of the figures:
Out of Brazil’s 26 states plus the Federal District, 22 states now have ICU occupancy rates at over 80%. Of those, 13 are near or at the breaking point with ICU occupancy over 90%, according to data from each state’s health authorities.
Rio Grande do Sul is the most critical as of Tuesday, with ICU capacity at 103%, which means patients are lining up for ICU beds.
Although the state of Rio de Janeiro is at 72.7% capacity, its capital has already reached 93% of its total occupancy.
According to the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), a health ministry institution, the accelerated occupancy rates at ICUs seen in the last month are the result of the lack of restrictive measures imposed by the federal and state governments, the spread of the new P.1 variant first identified in Brazil, and the slow pace of vaccination. Brazil has vaccinated only 4% of its population, according to the health ministry.
2:50 p.m. ET, March 9, 2021
Vermont will allow people age 16 and older with high risk conditions to get Covid-19 vaccine
From CNN’s Will Brown
Vermont will allow anyone 16 years old or older with high risk conditions to schedule a vaccine appointment beginning this Thursday, Gov. Phil Scott announced Tuesday morning.
Vermont originally planned to open vaccinations to this population next week, but moved the timeline forward due to the state’s supply of vaccine and ability to accommodate more appointments.
“The goal here is to get all Vermonters vaccinated as quickly as possible, so anything we can do to push that along is going to be a benefit,” said Dr. Mark Levine, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health.
Vermont expanded vaccinations to include teachers, school staff, and child care workers yesterday.
3:05 p.m. ET, March 9, 2021
Disneyland expects to reopen by late April
From CNN's Cheri Mossburg
Disneyland expects to reopen by late April, after recalling and retraining furloughed employees, Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced Tuesday.
California announced plans that will allow amusement parks, concert and sports venues to begin reopening starting April 1 if they are located in eligible counties. Orange County, home to Disneyland, is expected to progress out of the state’s most restrictive tier within the next week or two.
It will take a bit longer for Disney to get its more than 10,000 employees, or as Disney calls them, Cast Members, back to work and retrained on the state’s newly implemented rules surrounding Covid-19 precautions.
“I am pleased to say the response has been great thus far, our Cast Members are excited to get back to work,” Chapek said in a statement.
Attendance at the so-called Happiest Place on Earth will be limited to 15% of capacity until Orange County moves to a less restrictive tier.
The reopening of theme parks and sports venues “will mean so much to our working families and small businesses which have suffered so much while our large businesses have been closed for the past year,” Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu said Friday.
Disneyland’s official reopening date will be announced in the coming weeks.
2:42 p.m. ET, March 9, 2021
Louisiana expands vaccine eligibility to people 16 and older with certain health conditions
From CNN's Gisela Crespo
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Tuesday announced that effective immediately, people 16 and older with certain health conditions will be eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.
Speaking during a briefing, Edwards said the conditions are those listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that place an individual at a higher risk of suffering serious complications from contracting the virus.
"We came to this decision after hearing from our providers over the weekend that there's a little slack in the appointments, and that they were able to accommodate and ready to accommodate more people," Edwards said. "We also have had a very stable supply [of vaccine], especially of the Moderna and the Pfizer, so we feel comfortable about what's coming ahead."
The governor noted that at the moment, only the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for 16 and 17-year-olds. Individuals would need to complete a form for vaccine providers that certifies they have one or more health conditions that make them eligible to get vaccinated.
Edwards said the state is also expanding eligibility for any staff working in congregate facilities such as prisons "because of the especially high-level exposure they have."
2:27 p.m. ET, March 9, 2021
White House isn't focused on vaccine passports, press secretary says
From CNN's Betsy Klein
White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about a concept being floated by the private sector, a “vaccine passport” that would allow Americans to demonstrate that they have been vaccinated ahead of traveling.
She suggested the effort will be driven outside of government as the administration’s focus is currently on vaccinating.
“We recognize that as many Americans get vaccinated questions will come up and they're already starting to come up as to how people will be able to demonstrate they are vaccinated... And right now, our focus as the US government is on getting more people vaccinated, and we'll think about how people can demonstrate they are vaccinated as we get more people vaccinated, but that's where we're putting our energy and resources toward,” Psaki said Tuesday, adding that the private sector and non-profits “will be driving this initiative in all likelihood moving forward.”
Pressed on whether the administration would want to be involved in setting standards, she said, “There are lots of ideas that will come from the private sector, nonprofits. We welcome those, but our focus from the federal government is on getting more people vaccinated, and that's where we feel we can use our resources best.”