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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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 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.

1:29 p.m. ET, March 22, 2021

Nearly 3.3 million Covid-19 vaccines have been administered in New York City, mayor says

From CNN's Laura Ly

Healthcare workers administer Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines at a vaccination site in the Bronx borough of New York on February 5.
Healthcare workers administer Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines at a vaccination site in the Bronx borough of New York on February 5. Angus Mordant/Bloomberg/Getty Images

New York City has administered 3,295,812 Covid-19 vaccines to date, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.

He said the city expects to see an increase in their vaccine supply beginning in April.

The mayor said Monday that he believes no further Covid-19 restrictions should be lifted in the city until more data is collected about case trends and about the Covid-19 variants that have been identified. 

“If we see numbers going in the wrong direction…we would put different options back on the table,” de Blasio said.

2:10 p.m. ET, March 22, 2021

New York will lower vaccine eligibility to 50 starting Tuesday, governor announces

From CNN's Anna Sturla

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state will allow individuals ages 50 and above to be eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine starting on Tuesday, lowering the current vaccine eligibility age from 65.

Cuomo made the announcement at Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon (in Westchester County) saying that the church would become a vaccine center on Tuesday.

The Rev. Al Sharpton also joined Monday morning's event remotely to thank the governor for his work on the vaccine rollout, and encouraged everyone to get out and get their vaccine appointments.

Gov. Cuomo will hold a Covid Q&A later in the afternoon, his office said. The timing will be announced later today.

Monday's event marked another closed press event for the embattled governor wherein he focused on expanding vaccine access and received praise from community and faith leaders. He again did not address the multiple accusations and investigations into his behavior, nor were they directly referenced by anyone who spoke at the event, although the speakers were clear to voice their support for the governor repeatedly.

12:16 p.m. ET, March 22, 2021

White House won't confirm whether Johnson & Johnson will reach 20 million vaccine doses by end of March

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

White House Senior Adviser Andy Slavitt
White House Senior Adviser Andy Slavitt White House

The White House has not yet confirmed whether Johnson & Johnson will deliver 20 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to states by the end of the month — which is a little more than a week away.

"At this point in time, I don't want to commit to what's going to happen over the course of the coming week. We'll leave that to the company," Andy Slavitt, White House Covid-19 senior adviser, said on Monday.

Slavitt added that he doesn't think the company will be far away from reaching the numbers it has projected.

Some more context: Johnson & Johnson has pledged 20 million doses to the United States by the end of March, but only about 4.3 million doses have been delivered to states, according to data reported by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday. 

"We are obviously working very closely with the company. We are going to see a nice increase in Johnson & Johnson this week, and we should have more information around the first week in April to report on how they've done," Slavitt said during a White House briefing on Monday.

"Obviously, they’ve got a lot of increases that they need to be committed to doing," Slavitt said. "We'll continue to keep everyone posted."
12:05 p.m. ET, March 22, 2021

White House is encouraging governors and private sector to "slow down the relaxation"

From CNN's Betsy Klein

The White House is encouraging governors, as well as the private sector, to maintain or reimpose coronavirus restrictions as new case rates remain high and some states are lifting guidelines. 

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the administration is working to “slow down the relaxation.” But some states have lifted restrictions on restaurant capacity and other retail businesses in recent weeks, with some states relaxing mask mandates.

“We are looking at these data, we're reaching out to individual states, trying to encourage them. We are having weekly governors’ calls. We're doing outreach with states, territories to encourage them to look at their case data, to look at what's happening with the variants and to do as much outreach as we can to try and slow down the relaxation,” Walensky said in response to a question from CNN’s Jeremy Diamond.

Senior Covid-19 adviser Andy Slavitt reiterated that the White House believes “it's a mistake to get rid of mask mandates” and that the administration is doing “concerted” outreach to the private sector.

He added, “Obviously, governors have certain authority there, but so do corporations, so do employers, so do individuals, and we're making concerted efforts to make sure that people know that whether or not there's a mandate in place, it's in people's strong interest, strong interest to continue to wear a mask, until such time as people have had a chance to be vaccinated.”