The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines

By Julia Hollingsworth, Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN

Updated 2323 GMT (0723 HKT) March 22, 2021
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3:14 p.m. ET, March 22, 2021

Global Covid-19 cases increase for fifth consecutive week, WHO official says 

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Maria van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical lead for coronavirus response, said Monday that global cases of Covid-19 have risen for the fifth consecutive week, and that WHO is seeing worrying trends in Europe, as well as number of areas.

“Four of our five WHO regions are seeing an increase in transmission,” she said at a news briefing. “This is the fifth week in a row globally that we have seen an increase in transmission. In the last week, cases have increased by 8%.” 

There was a 12% increase in Europe, van Kerkhove said, adding that it is driven by several countries across the region and by the B.1.1.7 variant, which is starting to circulate in many countries in the eastern part of Europe. 

The Southeast Asia region has seen a 49% increase in cases, largely driven by increases in India and a number of other countries. 

The eastern Mediterranean region has seen an increase of 8%. 

The Western Pacific region has seen an increase of 29%, largely driven by an increase in cases in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea. 

“The Americas and Africa have seen a slight decline in the last seven days,” she said. “But, overall, we’re seeing increasing trends and these are worrying trends.” 

Van Kerkhove said that in Europe and across a number of countries there is a combination of factors associated with transmission increases, including pressure for the countries to open up and difficulties with individuals and communities complying with proven control measures.

2:43 p.m. ET, March 22, 2021

Venezuela will receive two Cuban vaccine candidates in April

From CNN’s Karol Suarez and Patrick Oppmann

Vials of the Abdala vaccine candidate are seen during a press conference in Havana, Cuba, on March 19.
Vials of the Abdala vaccine candidate are seen during a press conference in Havana, Cuba, on March 19. Katell Abiven/AFP via Getty Images

Embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced two of Cuba’s vaccine candidates would arrive in Venezuela in the first week of April.

“We will participate in phase three of their clinical trials heading to this vaccine's mass production," he said during a news conference on Sunday.

Maduro said 30,000 doses of Soberana 02 and 30,000 doses of Abdala will come into the country. Both vaccine candidates are in phase 3 clinical trials.

“I thank President Diaz Canel, the Cuban Public Health System, Army General Raúl Castro, and thank you for incorporating Venezuela in these trials; we're together creating the answers and solutions of our Caribbean Latin America," Maduro said.

On March 4, Sacha Llorenti the executive director of ALBA-TCP (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America – Peoples' Trade Treaty), a regional bloc of left leaning Caribbean and Latin American countries, announced the creation of a vaccine bank for its member countries. Cuba and Venezuela are both members of ALBA and the delivery of the vaccines will take place through the organization according to Cuban state media.

The vaccine bank is for member states to use if they are in need and vaccines developed in Cuba will have priority to be part of the bank.

2:38 p.m. ET, March 22, 2021

UK administers 30 million Covid-19 vaccine shots

From CNN’s Sarah Dean

A clinical pharmacist prepares to administer the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine on March 12 in London.
A clinical pharmacist prepares to administer the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine on March 12 in London. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

More than 30 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have now been administered in the UK, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on Monday. 

This total figure includes first (27,997,976) and second doses (2,281,384). The government publishes these figures on its online dashboard daily. 

Hancock tweeted that the “vaccine rollout is showing the best of Britain”.

See the tweet:

 

 

2:35 p.m. ET, March 22, 2021

Arizona is opening vaccine appointments to residents 16+ on Wednesday

From CNN’s Jennifer Selva

Residents in Arizona aged 16 and above will be eligible to get a Covid-19 vaccine starting this Wednesday at state-operated sites in Maricopa, Pima and Yuma counties, according to a news release from the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS).

“Our goal has been and remains to get vaccine into the community as quickly, widely and equitably as possible,” said Gov. Doug Ducey. “Given a thorough review of vaccination data, anticipated vaccine supply, and current demand among prioritized groups, now is the time to take this critical next step.” 

ADHS director Dr. Cara Christ says they anticipate “more and more” vaccine reaching Arizona in the coming weeks which allowed them to expand prioritization.

So far Arizona has administered 2,904,159 doses of Covid-19 vaccine and 1,136,413 residents are fully vaccinated.

According to the release, as of Monday morning there were 58,000 appointments available.

1:47 p.m. ET, March 22, 2021

Nearly 1 in 4 people in the US have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, CDC data shows

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

More than 126.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States, according to data published Monday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The CDC reported that 126,509,736 total doses have been administered – about 81% of the 156,734,555 doses delivered. The CDC last updated total doses delivered on Saturday; CNN has reached out to the CDC to learn more about this.

That’s about 2 million more doses reported administered since yesterday, for a seven-day average of about 2.5 million doses per day.

About 1 in 4 people in the US – nearly 83 million people – have received at least one dose of vaccine, and more than 1 in 8 – about 45 million people – have been fully vaccinated, CDC data shows.

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

1:40 p.m. ET, March 22, 2021

New York City reopened 488 high schools today, mayor says

From CNN's Laura Ly

Mayor Bill de Blasio said all 488 high schools under the New York City Department of Education have reopened for in-person learning across the city, with at least half of those schools providing in-person instruction five days per week.

De Blasio said city officials have been following the latest US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for a safe reopening.

The city has set a new "opt-in" period from March 24 to April 7 to allow more students to “opt-in” to in-person learning if they wish. De Blasio also said that the NYC's schools district has received $130 million in stimulus funding and it is being disbursed to schools. 

With approximately 1.1 million students, New York City is the largest school district in the United States, according to the NYC Department of Education.

There are currently about 315,000 total students of all grades returning to in-person learning, and about 55,000 high school students who have returned to in-person school on Monday, spokesperson Danielle Filson said Monday.

NYC Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter added that the "opt-in" period is meant to give school administrators a chance to see how many additional students wish to return in the near-future so they can make appropriate preparations.

“We want every single child who wants to attend school in person to have the opportunity to do so,” Porter said, adding that the school district has the capacity to welcome more students in-person while still maintain CDC recommendations on social distancing.

Porter also told CNN’s Kate Bolduan on Monday that she estimates that around 80 to 90% of NYC students will return to classrooms in the fall.

“We want to get as close to 100% in-person in the fall, but we also know we have to honor the choices and decisions our families are making,” Porter said.

1:33 p.m. ET, March 22, 2021

Jordan reports highest number of Covid-19 deaths since start of pandemic

From CNN’s Jomana Karadsheh in Istanbul

Jordan on Monday reported the highest number of deaths since the start of the pandemic, registering 109 new deaths, according to figures announced by the country’s health ministry.

Jordan also recorded at least 9,269 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, one of the highest daily tallies since the start of the pandemic.

Last week, the country with a population of about 10 million, surpassed half a million cases.

Jordan is facing its worst wave of the pandemic. Government officials blame the surge on the variant first identified in the UK and on people’s lack of adherence to regulations.

There has been a lot of concern about the healthcare sector’s ability to deal with the high number of infections — with several hospitals and intensive care units (ICUs) dedicated to COVID cases in the kingdom either close to or reaching capacity.

Earlier this month the government re-imposed restrictions including a Friday lockdown, extended the nighttime curfew, and shut down nightclubs, bars, pools, gyms and parks. It also suspended Friday prayers and Sunday church mass.

The government has said it is doing all it can to avoid another full lockdown because of the impact on the economy and people’s livelihoods.

Meanwhile, vaccines have been slow to arrive to the kingdom where just over 650,000 people have registered on an online platform to get inoculated. 

As of March 21, Jordan vaccinated at least 209,278 people since the start of the vaccination campaign launched in mid-January. Jordan has been administering the Sinopharm, Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines. It has also issued emergency use authorization for Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.

Government officials have said they are working “night and day” to secure more vaccines from various sources. 

Jordan has reported a total of 544,724 Covid-19 cases and 5,985 Covid-19 related deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the country's health ministry.

1:05 p.m. ET, March 22, 2021

West Virginia opens vaccine eligibility to everyone over the age of 16

From CNN’s LaCrisha McAllister 

Residents wear protective masks in the observation area after being vaccinated at a West Virginia United Health System Covid-19 vaccine clinic in Morgantown, West Virginia on March 11
Residents wear protective masks in the observation area after being vaccinated at a West Virginia United Health System Covid-19 vaccine clinic in Morgantown, West Virginia on March 11 Justin Merriman/Bloomberg/Getty Images

West Virginia will open vaccines eligibility to everyone in the state over the age of 16, Gov. Jim Justice announced Monday. 

“Today I am announcing we are officially opening up our vaccine eligibility to all West Virginians over the age of 16, beginning right now,” he said. “We do not want to take our foot off the gas, and we continue prioritizing all those 65 years of age and older, let’s get everybody in this state vaccinated.”

What the numbers look like: There have been 12 additional Covid-19-related deaths since Friday and 276 new positive cases in the last 24 hours in West Virginia, the governor said.

There are 198 people hospitalized and 67 people in intensive care units, said Justice, marking an increase to the numbers that Justice reported at last Monday’s news conference. Last week, Justice said that there were 210 new positive cases, 151 people hospitalized, and 50 people in ICU. 

Justice also announced that all fairs and festivals will be allowed to resume on May 1, but all mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing precautions are still in place.  

“Unless there is a real big backslide, we want to have the festivals,” he said.
1:03 p.m. ET, March 22, 2021

Second batch of Covid-19 stimulus checks will be issued this week, Biden administration announces

From CNN's Betsy Klein

The second batch of Covid-19 stimulus checks will be issued this week, the Biden administration announced Monday.

Many of these payments will come via paper check or prepaid debit card and additional batches will be made weekly going forward, according to a statement from the US Department of the Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service and the Bureau of the Fiscal Service.

“For taxpayers receiving direct deposit, this batch of payments began processing on Friday and will have an official pay date of Wednesday, March 24, with some people seeing these in their accounts earlier, potentially as provisional or pending deposits,” the statement read. “A large number of this latest batch of payments will also be mailed, so taxpayers who do not receive a direct deposit by March 24 should watch the mail carefully in the coming weeks for a paper check or a prepaid debit card, known as an Economic Impact Payment Card, or EIP Card.” 

The statement pointed people to the Get My Payment tool on IRS.gov to check whether their payment has been scheduled.

The payments of up to $1,400 per person began disbursement earlier this month after President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill into law.

Families will receive an additional $1,400 per dependent, so a couple with two children could receive up to $5,600. Unlike prior rounds, families will now receive the additional money for adult dependents over the age of 17.

The full amount goes to individuals earning less than $75,000 of adjusted gross income, heads of households (like single parents) earning less than $112,500 and married couples earning less than $150,000. But then the payments gradually phase out as income goes up.

Use our calculator to see what you can expect to get.