March 15 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 0741 GMT (1541 HKT) March 16, 2021
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8:00 p.m. ET, March 15, 2021

Vice President Harris lays out Covid-19 relief plan and urges vaccinations in Nevada

From CNN's Jasmine Wright

Mandel Ngan
Mandel Ngan


Vice President Kamala Harris broke down the benefits Americans will receive from the American Rescue Plan in her most formal but still brief remarks of the trip, kicking off the Biden administration’s “Help is here” tour at the Culinary Academy in North Las Vegas.

“Help is here,” Harris declared, noting that President Biden once said, "Help is on the way," and has now signed the bill into law.

“So, I'm here to also make sure we get the word out, so folks know what they are entitled to receive,” she said. “And also, by extension, they remember, this is supposed to be the job of your government. Which is when you're suffering, when you need a helping hand, when you need a little assistance, to just get over a moment of crisis you didn't create. That's when leaders are supposed to kick in to say, "I'm here I see you and I will help you.'"

Standing in front of boxed produce, Harris broke down the benefits of the bill from the direct payments, child tax credits to COBRA subsidies. She spoke about the administration’s efforts to make sure the bill provided equity, describing at one point the difference between charity and duty.    

She also talked with employees today about how many union members are getting vaccines and vaccine hesitancy in communities of color.

“Whatever vaccine you are offered, you need to take,” Harris told employees at a fulfillment center, after reiterating that she, Biden and Nevada’s governor all got different vaccines.

7:13 p.m. ET, March 15, 2021

Portugal joins other European countries in suspending AstraZeneca vaccinations

From CNN’s Isa Soares and James Frater

Portugal has announced that it is suspending use of the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford as a “precaution.”

Portugal is the latest European country to halt AstraZeneca vaccinations following reports of patients developing blood clots post inoculation. France, Germany, Italy and Spain have also suspended use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine.

“Portuguese health authorities today decided to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19 for reasons of precaution and public health,” Portugal’s national health authority said Monday in a statement. 

According to the national health authority, the decision was taken “due to reports of the appearance of blood clots in vaccinated people.”

The decision comes despite assertions from the United Kingdom’s Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunizations (JCVI) that the vaccine has been “rigorously tested for safety.”  

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) also said Monday that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the risks, adding that the number of people developing blood clots after vaccination does not seem to be higher than in the general population.

The agency said it would hold an emergency meeting on Thursday to advise on “any further actions that may need to be taken.”  

7:01 p.m. ET, March 15, 2021

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti: "We don't have enough doses yet" to meet Biden's May 1 deadline

From CNN's Leinz Vales

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks during an interview on March 15.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks during an interview on March 15. CNN

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday that his city does not "have enough doses yet" to meet President Biden's goal of making all adults over the age of 18 eligible for a coronavirus vaccine by May 1.

"I would like to see more doses," Garcetti told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "We've used 98% of what was sent."

Garcetti made it clear that his city has the capacity to handle vaccinations and are making progress within minority communities. 

"We have the largest mass vaccination site in the world at Dodger Stadium," Garcetti said. "And we're doing vaccine equity. Dr. Fauci praised us last week for mobile teams that are going to Black and brown communities, in-home vaccinations that we're doing as well as our use of technology and free rides to text people when appointments open up and offering free rides."

"I've been very pleased to see this administration each week adding more and more doses and I'm hopeful in a week or two we'll finally get the flood of vaccines that we've been promised, because we're ready to double overnight the number of shots we're putting in arms here in L.A."


5:48 p.m. ET, March 15, 2021

Brazil orders 138 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, official says

From CNN's Rodrigo Pedroso

Brazilian Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello speaks during a press conference in Brasilia on March 15.
Brazilian Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello speaks during a press conference in Brasilia on March 15. Evaristo Sa/AFP/Getty Images

Brazil has ordered 100 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine and 38 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello announced Monday. 

Pazuello said he plans to have the entire population of Brazil vaccinated by the end of the year.

The contract signed with Pfizer estimates the delivery of one million doses in April, another 2.5 million in May, 10 million in June, 10 million in July, 30 million in August, and 45.5 million in September.

The Johnson & Johnson contract says that 16.9 million doses will be delivered in August and another 21.1 million in November.

Meanwhile another 13 million doses of Moderna vaccine are currently under negotiation. Last Friday, the ministry announced a deal for 10 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine.

The country also has another 20 million doses of the vaccine from Bharat Biotech.

The Brazilian government is expecting to have 562 million doses by the end of December, including Covax, AstraZeneca and Coronavac.

But Brazilian health regular agency Anvisa has so far only approved the use of AstraZeneca, CoronaVac and Pfizer's vaccines.

5:09 p.m. ET, March 15, 2021

More than a million people in Kentucky are now vaccinated, governor says

From CNN’s Jennifer Selva

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear speaks during a briefing on March 15.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear speaks during a briefing on March 15. KY Gov Beshear/Youtube

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday that they’ve crossed the milestone of one million people vaccinated for Covid-19 in the state.

During an afternoon news conference, Beshear said 1,002,356 Kentuckians have had the vaccine and 70% of those vaccines have gone to residents who are 50 and older.

The governor said the state has seen nine weeks of declining cases.

“We are getting very close to a total case number that’s close to 10% of our population,” Beshear said.

The governor also said more than 5,000 Kentuckians have died from Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. There have been at least 416,610 cases of Covid-19 since pandemic started.

6:18 p.m. ET, March 15, 2021

Trump should encourage his supporters to get the vaccine, former Covid-19 testing czar says

From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Adm. Brett Giroir speaks during an interview on March 15.
Adm. Brett Giroir speaks during an interview on March 15. CNN

Former President Trump should encourage his supporters to get the Covid-19 vaccine, Adm. Brett Giroir said Monday. 

“The people who follow former President are very committed to President Trump, and I think his leadership still matters a great deal,” Giroir told CNN’s Jake Tapper.  

Giroir, who served as Health and Human Services assistant secretary under Trump, noted that the vaccines were developed under the Trump administration. 

“I think it's very important for former President Trump, as well as the vice president to actively encourage all the followers to get the vaccine,” he said. 

About 47% of people who supported Trump in the 2020 election said they would not get a Covid-19 vaccine if it became available to them, a recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found. 

Giroir said he did not know Trump was vaccinated until he heard it reported on the news, and is hesitant to comment on anyone’s private medical decisions.

He went on to say there was a clear strategy on the day that President Biden took office and the ramp up of vaccines has been approximately the same as he would have predicted under the Trump administration. 

“I think he's done some very good things and positive things, but it's built on the foundation that we built in the Trump administration,” Giroir said. “And that's the way it should be. There's no 180 degree turns.” 

The idea that the Trump administration did not provide a sufficient national strategy for administering Covid-19 vaccines is “a false narrative,” he said. 

“The foundation was there. There's no reason to cast aspersions,” Giroir said. “This is a great American story. A Republican administration started this, laid the foundation, the baton has been passed, and the Biden administration are taking it even to greater levels.” 


4:20 p.m. ET, March 15, 2021

China will donate 300,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines to UN peacekeepers

From CNN’s Richard Roth

China is donating 300,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines to UN peacekeepers, with a priority given to peacekeeping missions in Africa, China’s ambassador to the UN, Zhang Jun, announced in a letter to the UN secretary general.

“The fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is the most pressing task facing the world today,” the letter said.

“Vaccines are the most powerful weapon to win the battle. China attaches great importance to the equitable distribution of vaccines, especially the accessibility and affordability in developing countries. As of March 15th, China had provided vaccine assistance to 69 countries and two international organizations, and exported vaccines to 28 countries. More and more countries and people are benefiting from China’s vaccine,” it continued.

It’s unclear which type of Covid-19 vaccine China would be donating.

3:15 p.m. ET, March 15, 2021

Connecticut expects to expand vaccine eligibility to people 16 and older by April 5

From CNN’s Jennifer Henderson

A dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is prepared on March 14 in Stamford, Connecticut.
A dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is prepared on March 14 in Stamford, Connecticut. John Moore/Getty Images

Connecticut is expecting to expand vaccine eligibility to people 16 and older by April 5, according to a news release from Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s office.

The Biden administration told the state to anticipate receiving “a significant increase in supplies” of all three Covid-19 vaccines over the next few weeks, the release stated. Lamont added that by early April the state anticipates receiving more than 200,000 first doses per week. 

Scheduling will open to all individuals age 45 to 54 on March 19 and tentatively on April 5, scheduling will open to those 16 and older, the release added.

Currently, Connecticut is vaccinating health care workers, medical first responders, people 55 and older, residents and staff of long-term care facilities and select congregate settings, staff at pre-K-12 schools, professional child care providers, the release stated.

2:36 p.m. ET, March 15, 2021

Pennsylvania will ease restrictions on restaurants and businesses starting April 4

From CNN’s Jennifer Henderson

An empty restaurant is seen in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on January 17.
An empty restaurant is seen in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on January 17. Keith Srakocic/AP

Due to a decline in Covid-19 cases and climbing vaccination rates, Pennsylvania will ease restrictions on restaurants and businesses, and increase mass gathering limits starting April 4, according to a news release from Gov. Tom Wolf’s office Monday.

Indoor dining capacity at restaurants that are self-certified or are undergoing the self-certification process will be raised to 75%, the release states. Restaurants that are not self-certified can raise their capacity to 50%. To be self-certified, restaurants must agree to strictly comply with all public health safety guidelines and orders.

The curfew for removing drinks from tables will be lifted in restaurants, bar service will resume, and customers will no longer have to order food in order to purchase alcohol on April 4, according to the release. 

Capacity limits for personal service facilities, gyms and entertainment facilities like casinos, malls and theaters will increase to 75%. Indoor venues will now be allowed to have up to 25% capacity and outdoor venues will be allowed 50% capacity, the release added. 

Pennsylvania's Covid-19 numbers: The state reported 1,388 new cases of coronavirus Monday in addition to 1,914 new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday, according to data from the Department of Health. 

Pennsylvania had 14 additional Covid-19 deaths over the weekend for a total of 24,587 deaths from Covid-19, the department added. 

The state has administered more than 3.6 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines with more than 1.2 million people fully vaccinated. An average of 76,000 people are being vaccinated a day.

Note: These numbers were released by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.