Connecticut opens Covid-19 vaccine eligibility to anyone 16 and older starting April 1
From CNN's Sahar Akbarzai
All residents 16 and older in Connecticut can receive a Covid-19 vaccine starting April 1, Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday.
Lamont announced that the state will administer over 200,000 first-dose vaccinations next week.
So far, 80% of people 75 and over in the state have been vaccinated, the governor said.
There are 619,154 people who have been fully vaccinated across the state, and a total of 1,680,671 doses have been administered, according to the state’s Covid-19 dashboard.
The state has created a $58 million budget to increase outreach and access in communities with low vaccination rates, including Black and Latino communities.
This budget will include methods of outreach such as door-to-door canvassing on vaccine awareness, the establishment of mobile clinics in communities, vaccination appointment settling and grants to local health departments and community organizations.
“We’re doing everything we can to bring the vaccine to you,” and especially those most at risk, Lamont said.
“Trusted people are the best advocates to encourage others to get vaccinate,” the governor explained.
5:27 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021
North Carolina will expand Covid-19 vaccine eligibility to all adults starting April 7
From CNN's Artemis Moshtaghian
North Carolina will be expanding vaccine eligibility to all adults starting April 7, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday.
“I’m encouraged that North Carolina will be able to open eligibility to all adults well ahead of the President’s May 1st goal,” Cooper said in a news conference.
The state's health secretary, Mandy Cohen, laid out details of the accelerated timeline, saying the state would be moving forward and opening vaccination eligibility to groups 4 and 5 with the rest of Group 4 being eligible to sign up to receive vaccines on March 31.
According to a statement from the governor’s office, starting next week, the rest of group 4 individuals are defined as additional essential workers and people living in other congregate settings such as student dormitories will be eligible for vaccination. According to the state's Department of Health and Human Services, group 5 individuals consist of “everyone who wants a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination.”
As of Thursday, North Carolina has administered 4.3 million Covid-19 vaccine doses and according to Cooper at least a third of the state’s adult population has received at least one shot.
3:30 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021
Mexico's coronavirus death toll surpasses 200,000
From Karol Suarez
Mexico's health ministry has reported 200,211 deaths from coronavirus since the pandemic began.
The ministry reported 584 new deaths Thursday.
Mexico has the third-highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world. The US has the most, followed by Brazil.
3:18 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021
Chile goes into new lockdown amid rapid surge in coronavirus cases
From CNN's Radina Gigova and Florencia Trucco
A new lockdown is in effect in Chile due to a rapid surge in coronavirus cases, authorities have announced.
The country has been reporting between 7,000 to 8,000 new cases daily and hospital intensive care unit occupancy rates are at 95% with both Covid and non-Covid patients, according to authorities.
At Thursday's daily news conference health authorities said "several patients" with the British and Brazilian variants have been detected.
"We are experiencing a worrying situation and we are concerned as a health authority and as a government. We ask the residents of Chile to share this concern," Chile's Health Minister Enrique Paris said.
The lockdown will affect more than 13 million people and will include the Santiago metropolitan area. Most colleges and schools will remain open but all nonessential stores will be closed. Authorities are also urging people to avoid nonessential travel.
The surge in cases comes despite Chile's elaborate vaccination campaign, which is seen as one of the most successful in the region. At least 6 million people in Chile, about a third of the population, have already received at least one dose.
Despite the domestic challenges, and without affecting Chile's own vaccination campaign, President Sebastián Piñera said on Tuesday that his country will continue collaborating with other countries in the region to help with vaccines, oxygen and medical supplies.
Chile has already helped Peru with oxygen supplies, Paraguay and Ecuador with vaccines, and has provided logistical support for the transportation of vaccines to Uruguay, Piñera said.
Chile reported 7,023 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the total to at least 954,762. Health authorities also reported 122 new deaths, bringing the total to at least 22,524 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
3:30 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021
Three additional regions in France added for strictest measures
From CN's Pierre Bairin
Three additional regions in France will join 16 already under strict restrictions, French Health Minister Olivier Véran announced Thursday.
“Epidemic pressure has reached alarming levels” in the regions of Nièvre, Rhône and Aube, Véran said.
A total of 19 regions in France will now be subjected to the strictest measures in the country. The strict measures are not quite a full lockdown, as schools remain open. However, nonessential stores are closed and people’s movement will be limited within a roughly six-mile radius unless compelling business or health reasons to travel further.
The entire country is following a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. local time. Working from home is encouraged as much as possible.
The health minister explained a stricter lockdown that would include the closure of schools was not considered at this stage saying, “First, the virus does not circulate everywhere in the same way and with the same intensity. For example, the Finistère region (Brittany) is ten times less affected than Seine Saint-Denis (Paris suburb),” he said.
Véran also said that “after a year of collective struggle,” they consulted local officials and considered “the acceptability of the measures by the population.”
"It is too early to judge whether the measures are effective and sufficiently effective. The measures decided last week could show their effects by this weekend at the earliest,” he added, indicating that currently there are 1,410 patients in intensive care in the Paris region.
“More than 45,000 French people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus in these 24 hours,” Veran said, before adding, "There is an acceleration of the epidemic almost everywhere – the situation is the most worrying in the Paris region, in northern France and in the riviera region.”
He said people in intensive care are younger when compared to November and December, something he attributes to the new coronavirus variants.
Véran said that as of Thursday evening, more than 7 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 2.5 million have received both doses. “By mid-April, so within three weeks, we will have vaccinated more than 10 million people, a majority of the people most vulnerable to the virus,” he added.
7:31 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021
Arizona lifts remaining Covid-19 restrictions on businesses
From CNN’s Chris Boyette
Citing increased distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine and 10 weeks of declining cases, Gov. Doug Ducey Thursday announced updates to Arizona’s Covid-19 measures, including lifting requirements on the state’s businesses and events.
According to the governor’s new executive order, events of more than 50 people will no longer need the approval of local governments, previous requirements for businesses will transition to recommendations, but businesses will still be able to continue requiring masks and social distancing and bars are allowed to resume regular operations, but can require social distancing and masks if they want to.
Arizona never issued a statewide mask mandate, but local government mandates will be phased out, though mask usage is still encouraged, according to the order.
“In Arizona, we never did a shutdown, so it’s impossible to have a grand reopening. Instead, we are continuing to take reasonable, safe and sensible steps. The measures put in place last summer allowed Arizona to fight back COVID-19. I want to thank the local leaders who supported these efforts with their own measures, and the businesses who implemented them,” Ducey said in a statement about the order.
“Today, we are in a different spot, and we are also a lot smarter. I’m confident Arizona’s businesses and citizens will continue to practice the fundamentals and act responsibly as we gradually get back to normal," he added.
Covid-19 vaccinations were opened to anyone 16 years old and older at certain state-run sites in Arizona starting Wednesday.
This post has been updated with new details on when vaccinations opened to people 16 and older.
2:33 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021
COVAX announces vaccine delivery delays from Serum Institute of India and AstraZeneca
From CNN’s Chris Liakos and Sarah Dean
Deliveries of Covid-19 vaccines produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII) to countries participating in the COVAX program will be delayed during March and April, Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, announced in a news release on Thursday.
COVAX is a global vaccine-sharing initiative aimed at reducing vaccine inequality with discounted or free doses for lower-income countries.
The news release cited the government of India’s battle with a new wave of Covid-19 infections as the reason for the delay. On Wednesday, India's Ministry of Health announced it had discovered a new "double mutant" variant of Covid-19, as the country struggles to contain a spike in cases that's raising fears of a second wave.
“COVAX and the Government of India remain in discussions to ensure some supplies are completed during March and April,” the release said.
Gavi said according to its agreement with SII it is “contracted to provide COVAX with the SII-licensed and manufactured AstraZeneca (AZ)-Oxford vaccine (known as COVISHIELD) to over 60 lower-income economies participating in the Gavi COVAX AMC (including India), alongside its commitments to the Government of India.”
“To date, COVAX has been supplied with 28 million COVISHIELD doses and was expecting an additional 40 million doses to be available in March, and up to 50 million doses in April,” the release said.
Economies participating in the COVAX facility that have been allocated AstraZeneca-manufactured doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine have also been informed that some of the first deliveries due in March are now set to take place in April, Gavi said.
Remember: COVAX, which is run by a coalition including Gavi and the World Health Organization, uses donations from governments and multilateral institutions to buy vaccines for poorer nations that can't afford contracts with major drug companies.
The program has secured vaccines from AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Serum Institute of India, with hopes of additional doses from companies currently working to get regulatory approvals. But getting enough supplies has been difficult, in part because wealthier countries ordered more than they need.
The SII not only produces most of the vaccines for India – it is also responsible for many of the vaccines distributed to the rest of the world. In September last year, SII pledged to manufacture and deliver 200 million doses for COVAX. But SII has had to halt or delay its exports several times in recent months as global and domestic demand surged.
2:31 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021
California expands vaccine eligibility to all adults starting April 15
From CNN's Cheri Mossburg
All Californians over the age of 16 will be eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine on April 15, as supply allows, Gov. Gavin Newsom just announced.
Those aged 50 and older will be allowed to be vaccinated starting April 1.
More Covid-19 vaccine doses are expected in April, well above the 1.8 million vaccines the state has been receiving each week. California expects to begin receiving several million doses each week, beginning sometime next month.
“Based on the current estimates, California expects to be allocated approximately 2.5 million first and second doses per week in the first half of April, and more than 3 million doses in the second half of April,” a statement from the governor’s office said.
California will continue to push vaccines toward those hardest hit by the pandemic. The state is partnering with organized labor and community-based organizations to vaccinate essential workers and agricultural workers.
2:29 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021
Peru records highest daily number of Covid-19 cases since pandemic began
From CNN's Claudia Rebaza
Peru reported 11,260 daily coronavirus cases, the highest daily number since the pandemic began, according to data released by the Health Ministry.
The country has seen its average daily cases increase by 31% since the beginning of March.
Lima is reporting almost 40% of new cases are the Brazilian P.1 variant, Health Minister Oscar Ugarte announced during a news conference on Wednesday evening.
“The main variant that causes Covid-19 in Lima reaches 39.7% and belongs to the Brazilian variant”, Ugarte said.
The overall number of coronavirus cases is 1,492,519, while the country’s death toll reached 50,656 after 182 new deaths were recorded.
Peru has the fifth highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Latin America, behind Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and Mexico, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.