March 16 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, CNN

Updated 0719 GMT (1519 HKT) March 17, 2021
30 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
4:07 p.m. ET, March 16, 2021

Apple updates its maps to display Covid-19 vaccination sites – just ask Siri

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Source: Shutterstock
Source: Shutterstock

Apple Maps, an application on iPhones, iMacs and other Apple products, has been updated to include Covid-19 vaccination locations, the tech giant announced on Tuesday. 

To help people find Covid-19 vaccines, Apple updated the app with Covid-19 vaccination location data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Vaccine Finder, a web-based system of vaccination providers.

Apple said in a statement that Apple Maps users can find Covid-19 vaccination locations in their area by searching in the app or asking Siri, "Where can I get a Covid-19 vaccination?"

Apple also noted that Apple Maps includes Covid-19 testing locations as well.

"Last year, Apple updated Apple Maps to display COVID-19 testing sites in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United States," the statement said.

Apple's announcement comes just a day after Facebook rolled out a Covid-19 vaccine locator tool on its social media platform.

3:41 p.m. ET, March 16, 2021

Arkansas opens Covid-19 vaccine eligibility to all groups in next phase

From CNN's Gisela Crespo 

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced starting immediately, the state will allow groups in the next phase of the state's Covid-19 vaccine rollout plan to get vaccinated. 

Speaking during a news conference Tuesday, Hutchinson said about one million Arkansans are eligible to get the vaccine under the next phase, known as Phase 1C, which includes people ages 16 to 64 with some underlying health conditions and essential workers in a range of industries.

People residing in high-risk settings, from those who are incarcerated to those living in crowded housing and student housing, also qualify. 

Hutchinson said the state decided to "accelerate" opening criteria after President Biden's announcement that his administration will direct states to open vaccinations to all adults by May 1. 

"Not everybody in 1-B has been vaccinated, but it is important to move to 1-C so that we can open up more and keep to the demand coming for the vaccine to make sure there's not any gap, and to give everyone the best opportunity to get the vaccine who wants one and who needs it," Hutchinson said. 

The governor added there's been a "slowdown" in vaccine demand, particularly in rural parts of the state. 

 "There is a lower acceptance rate for the vaccine in the rural areas of our state which we have to overcome... We're increasing the opportunity for those all across the state to get vaccinated as well," Hutchinson said. 

All groups eligible under Phase 1C in Arkansas can be found here.

3:41 p.m. ET, March 16, 2021

France and Italy "stand ready" to resume AstraZeneca vaccinations pending positive agency review

From CNN's Nicola Ruotolo and Eva Tapiero

A woman pick up a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine from the box "Tuesday" from a fridge while a box "Monday" is seen at left, in a vaccination center in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, southwestern France, Tuesday, March 16.
A woman pick up a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine from the box "Tuesday" from a fridge while a box "Monday" is seen at left, in a vaccination center in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, southwestern France, Tuesday, March 16. AP Photo/Bob Edme

The governments of France and Italy say they “stand ready” to resume AstraZeneca vaccinations pending a positive review by the European Union's medicines regulator, adding in a joint statement on Tuesday that the decision to halt the vaccine rollout was taken as a “temporary precautionary measure.”

Administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been put on hold in more than a dozen European countries in the past week over concerns that a small number of patients had developed blood clots post inoculation.

“The preliminary elements shared by the EMA [European Medicines Agency] today are encouraging,” a joint statement issued by the Italian prime minister’s office said.   

“Emmanuel Macron and Mario Draghi stand ready to resume vaccination campaigns with the AstraZeneca vaccine very quickly if the additional EMA review is positive,” the statement added. 

The statement comes after France’s industry minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher confirmed that the decision to suspend the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine in France, Italy, Spain and Germany was coordinated.

“We spoke with Italy, we spoke with Spain, we spoke with Germany, and it is no coincidence that these four countries announced the same decision on the same day, which once again is a decision of suspension,” Pannier-Runacher told French radio station France info on Tuesday. 

The European Medicines Agency has affirmed that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks, but is conducting an emergency review of the data; conclusions of the review are expected to be announced on Thursday.

3:37 p.m. ET, March 16, 2021

White House says it would welcome GOP support on reducing vaccine hesitancy

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said while the administration would welcome support from Republican elected officials to help reduce vaccine hesitancy from portions of the American public, the administration is focused on communicating with Americans through other means. 

“I think that we certainly would welcome support from and engagement from any Republican elected officials and leaders who want to advocate for the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. But I think it's important to note that the biggest issues that we see from our Covid team with getting more vaccines in arms is supply, which we've done a lot of work to address,” Psaki said during a gaggle aboard Air Force One on Tuesday.

She added that while there will be enough vaccine available for all adults to get one before the end of May, the administration remains focused on administration of the vaccine and making sure it is available in all communities. 

Psaki explained that the administration is using resources beyond elected officials to communicate directly with American people including doctors, clergy and local civic leaders. She said those groups have been shown to be “the most trusted sources of information” according to the White House’s data. 

Psaki also spoke about the President’s travel across the country, saying Biden will “certainly be going to some redder states” after early trips to swing states that helped put Biden in the White House, including Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia. 

“I would say stay tuned. We'll be certainly going to some redder states, states he didn’t win or very blue states and states he didn't campaign, so I wouldn't over read into it in that way,” she said.

She said today’s trip to Pennsylvania is to showcase help going to small businesses and the trip to Georgia on Friday is a chance for Biden to show his follow through on a campaign promise of getting $1,400 checks to Americans.  

Asked by CNN later in the gaggle if Biden will be traveling to Ohio next week, Psaki said there is no travel finalized for next week but added that the President will continue to travel as he promotes the passage of the American Rescue Plan. 

“It is certainly one of the many states, many wonderful states in this country that he could travel to, that might be considered a red state,” Psaki said of a possible Ohio trip.

3:39 p.m. ET, March 16, 2021

More than a quarter of Vermont's population has been vaccinated

from CNN's Juliana Battaglia

People wait for their turn to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, right, as public health experts with the Vermont Health Department begin vaccinating people aged 75 and older on Wednesday, January 27, at the Hazen Union High School in Hardwick, Vermont.
People wait for their turn to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, right, as public health experts with the Vermont Health Department begin vaccinating people aged 75 and older on Wednesday, January 27, at the Hazen Union High School in Hardwick, Vermont. Wilson Ring/AP

Vermont has vaccinated more than 26% of its population, over 152,800 people, with at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, Secretary of the Agency of Human Services Mike Smith said on Tuesday.

"70,100 have received their first dose of vaccine and 82,700 have received their first and last doses of the vaccine," Smith said.

“We've made great progress in vaccination so far with more than 26% of Vermonters vaccinated," state Commissioner of Health Dr. Mark Levine said.

The majority of those vaccinated are the state's 75 and older population.

"More than 84 percent of our 75 and older people population has started or completed vaccination," according to Mike Pieciak, Commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation.

State case numbers also remain controlled.

"Today, Vermont passes the 17,000 total case threshold, which still represents the lowest aggregate number of cases in the country, and the second lowest per capita numbers in the country since the start of the pandemic,"Pieciak said.

Vermont is expecting to receive an additional 800 doses of vaccines next week, as Gov. Phil Scott projects the state will increase its eligibility to the state's remaining population by the end of April.

2:55 p.m. ET, March 16, 2021

The "scale and scope" of FEMA's Covid-19 funeral assistance program is unprecedented, official says

From CNN's Liz Stark

The “scale and scope” of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's funeral assistance program during the Covid-19 pandemic is unlike anything they’ve done before, Acting Administrator Robert Fenton told lawmakers Tuesday.

Fenton, who appeared before a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on FEMA’s role in the Covid-19 response, said FEMA is on track to implement its funeral assistance program, which would help cover Covid-related funeral expenses, beginning in early April.

“While we’ve done funeral assistance in disasters, we’ve never done anything at this scale or scope,” he added. 

As part of this program, Fenton said FEMA will provide a 1-800 number for people to apply for assistance, rather than using an online registration system. “Right now our focus is empathy when we talk about individuals that have lost loved ones. We want to make sure that we do it in an empathetic way,” Fenton said.

“We are currently focused on training our call center staff and finalizing our policy,” he added.

FEMA previously received $2 billion from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 to “reimburse individuals and households for COVID-19-related funeral expenses incurred between Jan. 20 and Dec. 31, 2020,” according to the agency’s website

FEMA also received additional funding in the most recent coronavirus relief package, some of which would be allocated towards funeral assistance, Fenton said.

“I project that as we go forward, that we will use funding for the funeral program both going backwards for those who have passed away and those who unfortunately will pass away going forwards,” Fenton explained.

He also noted that funding will also go towards providing more protective equipment and testing to reopen schools, as well as for vaccinating Americans, among other programs.

2:10 p.m. ET, March 16, 2021

EU health commissioner urges countries to use all vaccine doses after some suspend use of AstraZeneca shot

From CNN’s James Frater

EU commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides gives a press conference at the European Commission Headquarters in Brussels, on February 17.
EU commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides gives a press conference at the European Commission Headquarters in Brussels, on February 17. Aris Oikonomou/Pool/Getty Images

The European Union’s Commissioner for Health Tuesday urged countries to use all their vaccine doses, after more than a dozen EU members suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“The roll out of the vaccination is more than ever key in order to decrease the number of infected people,” European Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said.

She nodded to the tensions between AstraZeneca and the EU over the pharmaceutical company’s failure to deliver as many doses as contracted, but said countries should push ahead with inoculations.

“We recognize the significant and regrettable challenges around production and deliveries, but we do however urge member states to use all the available doses as we are currently seeing the proportions of available doses used range from 50 to 100% to across member states,” she said. “Every dose counts and every dose is providing a protective shield for health workers, for the most vulnerable groups, for the elderly.”

At least 15 EU and associated countries have suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine over fears about blood clots.

The European Medicines Agency has repeatedly said the benefits the vaccine outweigh the risks. It is conducting an emergency review of the data and is due to report on Thursday.

EU and associated countries are sitting on nearly 8 million unused doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention data showed as of Monday.

1:37 p.m. ET, March 16, 2021

All US states have fully vaccinated at least 10% of their adult population, CDC data shows

From CNN’s Deidre McPhillips

A health worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine at a Covid-19 vaccination site at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas on March 15.
A health worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine at a Covid-19 vaccination site at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas on March 15. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Nearly 111 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States, according to data published Tuesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC reported that 110,737,856 doses have been administered – about 77% of the 142,918,525 doses delivered.

About 1.7 million doses have been reported administered since yesterday. Despite this drop, the 7-day average remains above 2.4 million doses per day and has topped yesterday’s record high.

Nearly 22% of the population – about 72 million people – has received at least one dose of vaccine, and nearly 12% of the population – about 39 million people – are fully vaccinated, CDC data shows.

Among the 65-and-older population, more than a third are fully vaccinated, and nearly two-thirds have received at least one dose. Additionally, all states have fully vaccinated at least 10% of their adult population.

A note on the data: Data published by the CDC may be delayed, and doses may not have been given on the day reported.

1:33 p.m. ET, March 16, 2021

Go There: CNN is in Los Angeles, where some Covid-19 restrictions are easing

For the first time in months, Los Angeles County is easing some of its Covid-19 restrictions as cases decline.

Restaurants — which up until now only offered take-out and/or outdoor dining — reopened indoors with up to 25% capacity. Museums, zoos and aquariums were also permitted to reopen with up to 25% maximum capacity. Gyms, fitness centers, yoga studios and dance studios were also able to reopen indoors with up to 10% maximum occupancy.

CNN's Stephanie Elam was live in Los Angeles. Watch more: