Biden delivers national address about Covid-19

By Ben Westcott, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 9:52 p.m. ET, March 11, 2021
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8:26 a.m. ET, March 11, 2021

A year ago, Fauci said the pandemic would get worse. He didn't realize it would be this deadly.

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Anthony Fauci listens to US President Joe Biden, out of frame, during a visit to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, on February 11.
Dr. Anthony Fauci listens to US President Joe Biden, out of frame, during a visit to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, on February 11. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

One year since the World Health Organization described Covid-19 as a pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Thursday that while he warned a year ago that things would get worse, he didn’t realize it would be anything close to the number of deaths the US actually had.

“I have to tell you quite honestly, Savannah, it would have shocked me completely,” to know that, Fauci told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie on the "Today" show.

“I knew we were in for trouble, and you remember, you go back, I said it then, we better be really careful. In fact, that day at a congressional hearing, I made the statement things are going to get much worse before they get better, and that was at a congressional hearing a year ago today, it was March 11, 2020, I said that. But I did not in my mind think that much worse was going to be 525,000 deaths,” he told Guthrie. 

A year ago today, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a global pandemic.

8:56 a.m. ET, March 11, 2021

Biden will mark Covid-19 anniversary in first prime-time presidential address. Here's what you need to know.

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

US President Joe Biden waits to speak during a visit to the Pentagon in Washington, DC, on February 10.
US President Joe Biden waits to speak during a visit to the Pentagon in Washington, DC, on February 10. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Biden is expected to deliver his first prime-time address from the White House on Thursday night to commemorate the anniversary of the Covid-19 shutdown.

The address is scheduled to air live at 8 p.m. ET.

Here are key things to know about tonight's speech:

The speech's focus: Biden says he plans to talk about the next steps to address the pandemic.

"Tomorrow night, I'm going to (deliver a) prime-time address to the American people and talk about what we've been through as a nation this past year, but more importantly, I'm going to talk about what comes next," Biden said on Wednesday. "I'm going to launch the next phase of the Covid response and explain what we will do as a government and what we will ask of the American people."

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said earlier this week that the President will also "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."

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."

What's special about the speech? Biden's scheduled address to the nation will take place exactly one year after President Trump delivered remarks to the country after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic.

Since the pandemic began, more than 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and more than half a million Americans have died because of it.

The coronavirus pandemic has rocked the US economy, challenged the American health care system in unprecedented ways, halted travel, squeezed supply chains and changed the way many Americans work and learn.

Biden's speech comes on the heels of the final passage of his top legislative priority: the $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package. He's expected to sign the package into law on Friday.

How can I watch it? The address will be broadcast on CNN, CNN en Español and CNN International, with access to the livestream on CNN.com's homepage and across mobile devices via CNN's apps for iOS and Android, and simulcast on SiriusXM Channels 116, 454 and 795.

It can also be viewed on CNNgo (at CNN.com/go on your desktop, smartphone and iPad, and via CNNgo apps for Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Android TV, Chromecast, Roku and Samsung Smart TV). The speech will be available on demand to subscribers via cable/satellite systems, CNNgo platforms and CNN mobile apps.

9:17 a.m. ET, March 11, 2021

CVS is now providing Covid-19 shots through federal program in 29 states and Puerto Rico

From CNN's Samira Said

A worker at a CVS in Eastchester, New York, checks in a person with an appointment to receive the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine on February 12.
A worker at a CVS in Eastchester, New York, checks in a person with an appointment to receive the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine on February 12. Gabriela Bhaskar/Bloomberg/Getty Images

CVS is now providing Covid-19 vaccinations through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program in 29 states and Puerto Rico, the pharmacy chain said in a press release Thursday. 

This is nearly double the 17 states where CVS was previously offering vaccinations. 

 “We’re increasing the number of active stores and expanding to additional states as fast as supply allows," said Karen S. Lynch, President and Chief Executive Officer, CVS Health in the statement. 

Appointments in the newly activated states and jurisdictions will start to become available for booking on Saturday, March 13, CVS said. 

CVS now offers vaccinations in nearly 1,200 stores in: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia.  

Not every CVS location in these states will be offering vaccinations, and eligibility requirements in each jurisdiction still apply. 

The Biden administration announced last week that Federal Retail Pharmacy Program participants would prioritize teachers and child care workers. 

"From March 3 to March 10, this population accounted for more than 30 percent of COVID-19 vaccine appointments at CVS Pharmacy locations," according to CVS' statement. 

7:42 a.m. ET, March 11, 2021

Austin mayor tells Texas attorney general he won't rescind the city's mask mandate

From CNN’s Chris Boyette and Kay Jones

Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Andy Brown responded to threats from the Texas Attorney General on CNN on Wednesday night. 

On Wednesday afternoon, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had sent a letter to Adler and Brown saying he would sue unless the public health mask order issued in Austin and Travis County was rescinded by 6 p.m. CST, as CNN previously reported.

Adler told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Wednesday night that they were "not going to rescind anything."  

He said that Dr. Mark Escott, Austin Chief Medical Officer and Interim Health Authority and Public Health Medical Director for the City of Austin and Travis County, said that masks should be mandated when people leave their homes and are around others in public. 

"The orders that he put into place last summer are still in place," Adler told Cooper. "They're still enforceable here in the city." 

Travis County Judge Andy Brown told CNN's Erin Burnett earlier Wednesday that Paxton knew they wouldn't respond before the deadline he imposed, and it was "meaningless" to start this. 

"He is the one who is supposed to know what the Open Meetings Act is and there is honestly no way we could comply with it today," Brown said. 

He also said that Paxton is "confused about the law" and that the issue at hand is not the same thing as when the Texas Supreme Court backed a challenge to curfew orders in December. 

"Ken Paxton is over here tweeting about lawsuits," Brown told Burnett. "If he wanted to do something, he could come this weekend and we would put him to work as a volunteer." 

Adler told Cooper that Paxton tweets at him a lot and he tries "not to engage at that level". 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order rescinding the statewide mask mandate and allowing all businesses to open without restrictions starting Wednesday, but Escott announced Tuesday that masks remain required in Austin to protect from the spread of Covid-19.

8:27 a.m. ET, March 11, 2021

Denmark suspends use of AstraZeneca vaccine as a 'precautionary measure'

From Antonia Mortensen

Denmark is suspending the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for 14 days as it investigates reports of some patients developing blood clots after being inoculated, days after several other EU countries suspended use of a specific batch of the vaccine.

Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said Thursday authorities were looking into "signs of a possible serious side effect in the form of fatal blood clots," though he made clear it was a "precautionary measure," saying it was not possible yet to conclude whether the clots were linked to the vaccine. 

"We act early, it needs to be thoroughly investigated," he said in a tweet.

The Danish Medicines Agency also confirmed the investigation on Thursday in a statement, saying it would work with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the other EU pharmaceutical authorities following the reports. 

"One report relates to a death in Denmark," the statement added.

"We do not yet know whether the blood clots and the Danish death are due to the vaccine, but it must now be thoroughly examined for safety," said Tanja Erichsen from the Danish agency.

Earlier this week, Austria suspended the use of one specific batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine -- batch ABV5300 -- after "a person was diagnosed with multiple thrombosis," according to the EU's medicines regulator, the EMA.

As of Tuesday, Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Latvia had also suspended use of batch ABV5300.

It has not been specified if the Danish death was connected to this batch.

On Wednesday, the EMA said there was "currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions, which are not listed as side effects with this vaccine."

The EMA statement added: "Batch ABV5300 was delivered to 17 EU countries and comprises 1 million doses of the vaccine. Some EU countries have also subsequently suspended this batch as a precautionary measure, while a full investigation is ongoing. Although a quality defect is considered unlikely at this stage, the batch quality is being investigated."

8:21 a.m. ET, March 11, 2021

Brazil reports record high Covid-19 deaths for second consecutive day

From CNN’s Marcia Reverdosa and Tatiana Arias

A morgue employee works with the body of a Covid-19 victim at a hospital in Porto Alegre, Brazil, on March 4.
A morgue employee works with the body of a Covid-19 victim at a hospital in Porto Alegre, Brazil, on March 4. Silvio Avila/AFP/Getty Images

Brazil has reported another day of record-high daily Covid-19 deaths, according to official data, the second in a row for the South American country.

On Wednesday, Brazil reported 2,286 new Covid-19 related deaths, according to the Health Ministry, topping Tuesday’s previous record of 1,972 fatalities.

The country also recorded 79,876 new cases of Covid-19, bringing the country’s total to 11,202,305 and the death toll to 270,656, the ministry reported.

Brazil has the the third-highest number of Covid-19 infections worldwide after the United States and India, and the second-highest death toll, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Earlier Wednesday, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reported that while the US, Canada and Mexico are seeing a drop in cases, nearly every Brazilian state saw an increase over the last week.

8:27 a.m. ET, March 11, 2021

Covid relief funding to be used for federal cybersecurity efforts

From CNN's Geneva Sands

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi raps her gavel after the House voted on the Covid-19 relief bill at the Capitol on March 10.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi raps her gavel after the House voted on the Covid-19 relief bill at the Capitol on March 10.

Millions of dollars in funding from the Covid-19 relief bill passed Wednesday will be used to help the federal government improve its cybersecurity efforts in the wake of high-profile breaches that have caused alarm for officials and lawmakers.

"[I]t reflects a recognition by this administration of the urgency of improving cybersecurity," said Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency cyber chief Eric Goldstein, adding that it will provide funding ahead of the next budget cycle, given the current threats facing federal networks. 

Goldstein, a top political appointee, said the funding stems from the fact that federal agencies are providing services either "directly or indirectly related to our country's ability to recover from the pandemic."

In an interview with CNN, he also pointed to increased remote work during the pandemic, which has created a reliance on cloud computing, which therefore increases the need for security tools. 

Congress included $650 million in the Covid relief bill for CISA's cybersecurity risk management programs.

Some background: CISA, a Department of Homeland Security agency that was founded during the Trump administration, is dealing with the fallout from two recent cyber breaches. Last week, Microsoft reported that a sophisticated group of hackers linked to China exploited its popular email service that allowed them to gain access to computers.

On Wednesday, CISA and the FBI issued an alert saying there are potentially “tens of thousands" of systems in the United States vulnerable to the breach. 

The alert was intended to "further amplify" the need for organizations to implement the directions in CISA's recent emergency directive, as well as the guidance from Microsoft, said Goldstein. 

As of today, about 90% of federal government Microsoft Exchange Server instances have been mitigated, according to Goldstein, who pointed out that there is no confirmation yet that any agency has been "compromised."

8:28 a.m. ET, March 11, 2021

Biden will mark one year of Covid-19 shutdown in primetime address

From CNN's Betsy Klein

US President Joe Biden takes part in a roundtable discussion at the White House on March 5.
US President Joe Biden takes part in a roundtable discussion at the White House on March 5. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Joe Biden will deliver his first primetime address this Thursday, commemorating the milestone of one year since the global pandemic coronavirus shut down much of the nation.

"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."

Then-President Trump addressed the nation from the Oval Office on March 11, 2020, hours after the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a global pandemic.

Trump announced at the time that he was "marshaling the full power of the federal government" to confront the growing public health crisis, including a monthlong halt in travel from Europe to the United States. It came days after he signed an $8.3 billion emergency spending bill aimed at fighting Covid-19, which Trump described as a "foreign virus."

One year later, more than 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and nearly 530,000 have died. The resulting shutdowns have rocked the US economy, with 6.2% unemployment.

8:28 a.m. ET, March 11, 2021

Canada will honor lives lost from Covid-19 in a national day of observance

From CNN’s Paula Newton

Canada will honor those who died of Covid-19 on Thursday in what is being billed as a national day of observance. 

“There are no words for the pain of losing someone you love. As a country we remember all those we lost and we mourn with families and friends,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this week.

Canada has recorded nearly 900,000 cases of Covid-19 and more than 22,000 deaths.

After a sluggish rollout, Trudeau promised that vaccine shipments would continue to pick up across the country.

Public health officials say more than 5% of Canadians have received at least one dose of a vaccine but new variants will continue to pose a significant risk to public health in the weeks to come.