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
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7:13 p.m. ET, March 9, 2021

Here are the Texas cities that will maintain mask requirements after statewide mandate is lifted

From CNN’s Gisela Crespo, Chris Boyette and Deanna Hackney

Cities around Texas have announced policies of their own to try to keep face covering requirements in-place on the local level in response to Gov. Greg Abbott's order lifting the mask mandate.

This is where things stand as of Tuesday night:

Austin 

Dr. Mark Escott, Austin's chief medical officer, announced that masks will be required in the city to protect from the spread of Covid-19. The city mask mandate and other health rules remain in place through April 15, when they may be extended based on health authority and Austin Public Health Department recommendation.

Dallas

Last Thursday, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson issued an order mandating face coverings inside all city buildings. The new regulation goes into effect on March 10 at 12:01 a.m., according to a news release from the mayor's office. In the release, the city argues that Abbott's executive order dropping Covid-19 restrictions and lifting the state mandate does not prevent local governments "from implementing mask requirements in their buildings." 

Houston

In a news conference Monday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner reiterated employees and visitors will continue to be required to wear a mask on any city-owned or operated facility. "And look, we want businesses to open. We want businesses to thrive, and I was saying," Turner said. "And quite frankly, I do believe that two months from now, the landscape will be much better than what it is today. I do believe that it’s too early now to just take off the masks."  

San Antonio

Michelle Vigil, public relations manager, told CNN on Tuesday that San Antonio is "currently operating at a 25% occupancy and will require masks for anybody entering our facilities." CNN has inquired whether the mask requirement will be made via a new order issued by the mayor or city manager and did not receive a response Tuesday night.

El Paso 

Last week El Paso announced on Facebook it “will continue to require individuals entering any facility owned by the City to properly wear a face mask over their nose and mouth." A city spokesperson told CNN Tuesday via email an updated order has not been issued yet and that staff "are still finalizing." "Our city facilities will continue to require face masks. All city-owned and operated facilities will require face masks," El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser said during a news conference last week. 

6:53 p.m. ET, March 9, 2021

At-home Covid-19 tests sent to all Americans is a cost-effective way to save lives, study says

From CNN’s Deidre McPhillips

Mailing rapid antigen tests to US residents to encourage frequent, widespread Covid-19 testing is a cost-effective way to prevent millions of infections and thousands of deaths, according to a study published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine. 

Over a period of 60 days, if just half of the population tested themselves weekly and half of those who tested positive self-isolated for an appropriate period of time, the practice could help prevent about 2.8 million infections and 16,000 deaths, the researchers found. Even in the worst-case scenario modeled — where only a quarter of the population utilizes the at-home tests and a quarter of those who test positive self-isolate — about 3,400 lives could be saved. 

In their baseline model, the researchers estimate that the at-home tests would cost about $12 billion and there would be about $10.5 billion in lost productivity due to self-isolation, but some of that would be offset by reduced resources needed to care for patients with severe or critical disease. Overall, the extra cost to save a life through at-home testing is just a quarter of what federal guidance cites as the “value of a statistical life, a benchmark of the societal willingness to pay for reductions in mortality risks,” according to the study. 

Testing rates have slowed since mid-January, according to federal data. But experts say that testing remains a critical tool in the fight against Covid-19, along with vaccination and continued social distancing. 

"While the public may view vaccination as a priority right now — and it is a priority — widespread testing still is essential for infection control,” Romney Humphries, medical director of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said during an Infectious Diseases Society of America briefing last week. "This will help us track the real impact."

Despite concerns that home-based antigen testing may be unreliable and not widely adopted, authors of the study say it is a good complementary strategy for containing the pandemic. 

“Our bottom-line message is: Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good; even a highly imperfect home-based testing program could confer enormous benefit,” they wrote. 

6:39 p.m. ET, March 9, 2021

All 50 states plus DC will allow teachers to receive Covid-19 vaccines starting Monday

From CNN’s Elizabeth Stuart

As of Tuesday, 47 states plus DC are now allowing teachers and school staff to receive Covid-19 vaccines. By next Monday, teachers will be eligible in all 50 states.

Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee Tuesday announced a plan to get all teachers at least the first dose of the vaccine by the end of March. 

New Mexico's Public Education Department secretary also announced late Monday their aim to get all teachers at least the first dose of the vaccine by the end of March, and that all schools are expected to reopen for in-person learning by April 5.

In Indiana, Montana and South Dakota, teachers are now eligible under a federal pharmacy program. In Massachusetts, teachers are currently eligible at CVS pharmacies, with a full rollout beginning on Thursday.

Here's where the other three states stand:

  • New Hampshire: March 12
  • Missouri: March 15
  • New Jersey: March 15
6:41 p.m. ET, March 9, 2021

Fewer than 400,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine will ship next week, Biden official says

From CNN’s Kaitlan Collins

Timothy D. Easley/Pool/Getty Images/FILE
Timothy D. Easley/Pool/Getty Images/FILE

A Biden administration official told governors during a weekly call on Tuesday that they can expect up to 400,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to go out next week, though the administration is still waiting to confirm the exact number of vaccine doses that will be distributed.

“On J&J, I shared last week that we expect unevenness in allocations week-over-week through March,” the official told governors. “In keeping with our commitment to transparency, we expect to have an allocation of up to 400,000 J&J doses that we’ll be able to confirm as early as tomorrow.”  

CNN has previously reported that Johnson & Johnson would have significantly fewer doses available in March and April than initially expected, which frustrated the Biden administration.

That number pales in comparison to the other two authorized vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. Roughly 15.8 million doses of those two vaccines are expected to ship next week, according White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

6:36 p.m. ET, March 9, 2021

CDC says it may update travel guidelines for people fully vaccinated when science is more clear

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told CNN Tuesday that it may update travel guidance for the fully vaccinated when the science is more clear and more people are vaccinated against Covid-19. About 10% of the US has been fully vaccinated so far.

“CDC may update its travel recommendations for fully vaccinated people as more people are vaccinated and we learn more about how vaccines work in the real world. This is something we will be closely watching in the United States,” CDC spokesperson Jason McDonald said in an email to CNN. 

The CDC did not update travel guidelines for the fully vaccinated in new guidance it released on Monday.

The guidelines only say “follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations,” and the CDC travel guidelines page says to “delay travel and stay home.” 

The airline industry and some public health experts characterized the new guidelines as too conservative.

But McDonald said that while the current Covid-19 vaccines are highly effective at protecting vaccinated people against severe illness, hospitalization and death, there is still a small risk that the vaccinated could become infected with a milder form of the disease and inadvertently spread the coronavirus to others who aren’t vaccinated sick. 

“In addition, several new virus variants have spread globally and in the U.S. through travel. Because of the increased risk for both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should still take all CDC-recommended precautions before, during, and after travel,” the statement said.
6:32 p.m. ET, March 9, 2021

Maryland lifting quarantine requirements for out-of-state travelers

From CNN's Laura Ly

Maryland is lifting its quarantine requirements and other restrictions for out-of-state travelers beginning at 5 p.m. ET Friday, Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday.

Currently, people who travel to Maryland – with the exception of people coming from Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, DC – must immediately get a Covid-19 test upon arrival and self-quarantine until getting a negative result, or get a Covid-19 negative test result within 72 hours of arrival, according to state guidance.

State authorities will continue to encourage out-of-state travelers to get tested upon their return anyways, but the official restrictions will be lifted, the governor said. 

Hogan reiterated that Maryland's statewide mask order remains in full effect and employers in the state are still strongly encouraged to allow for telework where possible. 

Maryland's state of emergency also remains in effect because it allows for the use of National Guard troops, the receipt of federal funding, and for the state to maximize its testing and vaccination capacity, he said.  

Hogan cited improving health metrics for the reason why he is lifting restrictions, saying "the time is right."

"Our health metrics are great, as I said, and it's time to get our economy going," Hogan said. He acknowledged that the Covid-19 virus can mutate and their health metrics can change, but also said it was "time to get people back to work."

6:29 p.m. ET, March 9, 2021

Chicago adds 2 states and DC to emergency travel order

From CNN's Kay Jones

Chicago has added two states and the District of Columbia to its emergency travel order, the city's health department website shows. 

According to the latest information posted on the website, Texas, Nebraska and Washington, DC, were added to the Orange list. States that fall on this list are averaging 15 cases per 100,000 residents, the dashboard shows. 

Anyone coming into Chicago from the 24 states and Washington, DC, will be required to quarantine for 10 days, provide a pre-arrival negative test result in the 72 hours prior to arrival or be fully vaccinated, which is defined as two weeks after the final dose of the vaccine, the website shows.

All travelers should continue to maintain strict masking and social distancing, the guidance states. 

Chicago implemented the travel order in January to help combat the spread of Covid-19 in the city, as CNN previously reported. 

6:28 p.m. ET, March 9, 2021

Brazil reports deadliest Covid-19 day since pandemic began

From CNN's Tatiana Arias and Marcia Reverdosa

Brazil reported a record high of Covid-19 deaths Tuesday, data from the ministry of health shows. 

On Tuesday, Brazil reported at least 1,972 new Covid-19 deaths over a 24-hour period, bringing the country’s total death toll to about 268,370.

Brazil’s ministry of health reported at least 70,764 new Covid-19 cases, raising the country’s coronavirus case-count to about 11,122,429.

In the country’s southeastern state of Sao Paulo on Tuesday, a record number of 517 Covid-19-related deaths were recorded by state’s health authorities during the past 24 hours. 

As of Tuesday, Sao Paulo’s death toll stands at about 62,101 Covid-19-related deaths and at least 2,134,020 cases, according to official data.

Brazil continues to be the country with the third-highest case-count of Covid-19 cases worldwide after the US and India, and the second-highest Covid-19 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

6:10 p.m. ET, March 9, 2021

House passes procedural vote to move Covid-19 bill to final vote tomorrow morning

From CNN's Kristin Wilson 

By a vote of 219 to 210, the House has passed a procedural motion that allows for a final vote on the Covid-19 stimulus package.  

One Democrat, Rep. Jared Golden from Maine, voted no. 

While just a procedural vote, the tally is a good indicator of how Democrats will most likely vote on the final bill tomorrow, which increasingly looks like it will pass on a close, and mostly party-line vote. 

There had been some concerns that progressives would balk at some of the changes made in the Senate version of the bill.