March 26 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 0735 GMT (1535 HKT) March 29, 2021
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2:40 p.m. ET, March 26, 2021

Only 2 US states have not shared when they plan to vaccinate everyone 16 and older

From CNN’s Ashley Ahn, Jacqueline Howard and Virginia Langmaid

Anya Harris prepares a Moderna coronavirus vaccine at Red Hook Neighborhood Senior Center on February 22 in New York City.
Anya Harris prepares a Moderna coronavirus vaccine at Red Hook Neighborhood Senior Center on February 22 in New York City. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Most US states have announced plans to open up coronavirus vaccinations to everyone eligible under US Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization.

According to an official Twitter post from the White House's COVID-19 Response Team, four states have not yet announced plans to start vaccinating everyone 16 and older by May 1:

  • Arkansas
  • New York
  • Wyoming
  • South Carolina

But a spokesperson for the Wyoming Department of Health told CNN on Friday that "we expect to open to the general population in early to mid April." And South Carolina announced today that residents ages 16 and up will be eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine starting March 31.

Based on CNN's analysis, only two states remain that have not yet shared when they plan to vaccinate everyone 16 and older:

  • Arkansas
  • New York

In Arkansas, no announcement of plans has been made yet, but Meg Mirivel, a spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Health, told CNN in an email on Friday that "we do anticipate meeting the May 1 benchmark."

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a briefing on Wednesday that he's waiting to confirm how many doses of vaccine will be allocated before setting a date to expand eligibility.

"I'd rather get the specific allocation number and then tell the people of the state so we don't have to change advice, and we don't create pandemonium for the scheduling operation," Cuomo said.

Six states have expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility to anyone 16 and older, and a CNN analysis finds that at least 30 more plan to open up to people 16 and older by the end of April.

Alaska opened up vaccinations to anyone 16 and older on March 9, Mississippi on March 16, West Virginia expanded on March 22, Utah on March 24, Georgia on March 25, and Arizona opened vaccination to anyone over 16 who can get to state-run sites in three counties as of March 24. Oklahomans 16 and older can get vaccinated through the Chickasaw Nation's vaccination program, but not yet through the state's program.

As of Friday morning, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Florida and North Carolina were the latest states to announce plans to expand coronavirus vaccine eligibility to the general public, with Florida expanding to anyone 16 and older in April and North Carolina expanding to all adults 18 and older in April. New Hampshire announced incremental expansion, with everyone 16 and older eligible as of April 2, and Minnesota said Gov. Tim Walz would announce eligibility on Friday for those 16 and older starting March 30.

Below is the timeline for when those and other states have said they will open vaccination eligibility to the general public:

  • March 29: Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio, North Dakota, Louisiana
  • March 30: Minnesota
  • March 31: Indiana, South Carolina
  • April 1: Montana, Connecticut
  • April 2: New Hampshire
  • April 5: Michigan, Tennessee, Idaho, Iowa, Florida, Nevada
  • April 7: North Carolina
  • April 9: Missouri
  • April 12: Illinois, Kentucky
  • April 15: California
  • April 19: Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island
  • April 27: Maryland
  • April, no set date: New Mexico, Virginia, Colorado, Wyoming
  • May 1: Wisconsin, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, Nebraska, New Jersey, Kansas, Hawaii, Delaware, Alabama, Pennsylvania

For all states currently vaccinating anyone 16 and older, people ages 16 or 17 can only receive a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, as it is the only option authorized for use in that population so far. The vaccines made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are authorized for use in adults 18 and older.

Update: This post has been updated with South Carolina's announcement that residents ages 16 and older will be eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine starting March 31.

Correction: A previous version of this post misstated when New Jersey will open vaccination eligibility to the general public. It is May 1.

1:36 p.m. ET, March 26, 2021

Number of Covid-19 vaccine doses reported administered in US sets new daily record

From CNN’s Michael Nedelman

The number of Covid-19 vaccine doses administered jumped by a record 3.38 million Friday, according to White House Covid-19 Data Director Dr. Cyrus Shahpar.

“Just in, a new daily record!” Shahpar tweeted Friday, adding that the seven-day average is now up to 2.62 million shots per day.

This is the fourth time the number of doses administered has jumped more than 3 million on consecutive days. 

The previous one-day record was just over 3.2 million doses, on March 13.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not yet updated its tracker with the total doses administered; that is expected this afternoon.

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

Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated the number of times the total doses administered has jumped more than 3 million. This is the fourth time that has happened.

1:28 p.m. ET, March 26, 2021

Biden administration is waiting for WHO report on origin of Covid-19 before weighing in, White House says 

From CNN's Jamie Gumbrecht

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on March 26 in Washington, DC. 
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on March 26 in Washington, DC.  Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration is waiting for a report from the World Health Organization before weighing in on the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. 

President Biden, she said, will be briefed by his health and medical advisers after they review that report. She added that the White House is “encouraged” by a delay of WHO's report, suggesting it means there will be more transparency. 

Psaki's comments come after former US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield shared his opinion in a CNN documentary clip released Friday that he believes the novel coronavirus began transmitting in fall 2019 and that the virus may have originated in a lab in China. This is earlier than the understood timeline of the pandemic and shows his belief in what’s considered a politically charged and unproven theory about how the coronavirus first emerged.

Pressed by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on how the administration will respond to WHO’s report, Psaki noted the Biden administration has also “called for an international investigation and look into what’s happened, the origin, and lack of transparency,” saying they will be looking at underlying data in the report and making a determination on how to proceed “through an interagency process.” 

Psaki also referred reporters to comments from Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Rochelle Walensky earlier in the day regarding Redfield’s remarks on the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. 

 “Obviously, there are a number of theories,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, during a White House Covid-19 Response Team briefing on Friday. “Dr. Redfield was mentioning that he was giving an opinion as to a possibility, but again, there are other alternatives – others, that most people hold by.”

Fauci said Friday there are other public health officials who believe the virus could have been spreading in the community in China for several weeks, if not a month or more, before it was recognized in a lab. “If that were the case, the virus clearly could have adapted itself to a greater efficiency of transmissibility over that period of time up to an at the time, it was recognized.“

Walensky, said during the Friday briefing that she doesn’t have any indication “for or against” either of the hypotheses Fauci shared.

12:49 p.m. ET, March 26, 2021

Vaccine eligibility will open to New Jersey residents 55 and up among other groups on April 5

From CNN’s Ganesh Setty 

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks during a press conference in Union, New Jersey, on March 26.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks during a press conference in Union, New Jersey, on March 26. Pix 11/Pool

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced during a press conference Friday new groups of residents who will qualify for Covid-19 vaccines starting April 5. 

Those people include residents ages 55 and above, residents ages 16 and above with intellectual disabilities, members of the press and utility and construction workers, among others.

The eligibility expansion comes as a new FEMA-run pilot community vaccination site opens at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark on Monday. 

The site will be able to administer up to 42,000 doses per week, Murphy said, adding that the doses administered there will be “above and beyond” the state’s own allocation of vaccine doses. 

Next week, New Jersey is expected to receive nearly 500,000 total vaccine doses, marking a nearly 20% increase, Murphy said. 

“And I think it only goes up from there,” he added.  

While almost 1.4 million New Jersey residents are fully vaccinated, the governor stressed that “equity remains our principal and main focus” and noted that the state is on pace to open vaccine eligibility to all adults on May 1, just as President Joe Biden promised earlier this month. 

11:34 a.m. ET, March 26, 2021

Fauci says ex-CDC director Redfield's belief that Covid-19 came from China lab was just "an opinion"

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, attends a briefing at the White House on January 21.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, attends a briefing at the White House on January 21. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci labeled the theory that former US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield shared with CNN that the novel coronavirus spread earlier and "escaped" from a lab in China as just “an opinion.”

“Obviously, there are a number of theories,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, during a White House Covid-19 Response Team briefing on Friday. “Dr. Redfield was mentioning that he was giving an opinion as to a possibility, but again, there are other alternatives – others, that most people hold by.” 

Redfield expressed his opinion in a CNN documentary clip released Friday that he believes the novel coronavirus began transmitting in fall 2019 and that the virus may have originated in a lab in China.

This is earlier than the understood timeline of the pandemic and shows his belief in what’s considered a politically charged and unproven theory about how the coronavirus first emerged.

“If I was to guess, this virus started transmitting somewhere in September, October in Wuhan,” Redfield told Gupta in a clip that aired Friday on CNN New Day. “That's my own feelings. And only opinion. I’m allowed to have opinions now.”

Redfield, a virologist who led the CDC under former President Donald Trump, said he thinks the virus originated inside a lab in China and “escaped,” not necessarily intentionally.

Fauci said Friday there are other public health officials who believe the virus could have been spreading in the community in China for several weeks, if not a month or more, before it was recognized in a lab. “If that were the case, the virus clearly could have adapted itself to a greater efficiency of transmissibility over that period of time up to an at the time, it was recognized.“

The current CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said during the Friday briefing that she doesn’t have any indication “for or against” either of the hypotheses Fauci shared. 

11:38 a.m. ET, March 26, 2021

Here's a state-by-state look at when everyone 16 and older can get vaccinated in the US

From CNN’s Ashley Ahn, Jacqueline Howard and Virginia Langmaid

A health care worker prepares a dose of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine in Charleston, West Virginia, on March 18.
A health care worker prepares a dose of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine in Charleston, West Virginia, on March 18. Stephen Zenner/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Most US states have announced plans to open up coronavirus vaccinations to everyone eligible under US Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization.

According to an official Twitter post from the White House's Covid-19 Response Team, three states have not yet announced whether they plan to start vaccinating everyone 16 and older by May 1:

  • Arkansas
  • New York
  • Wyoming

South Carolina previously has announced it won't reach that date, but plans to start on May 3.

Six states — Alaska, Mississippi, West Virginia, Utah, Georgia and Arizona — have already expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility to anyone 16 and older, and a CNN analysis finds that at least 28 more plan to open up to people 16 and older by the end of April. Oklahomans 16 and older can get vaccinated through the Chickasaw Nation's vaccination program, but not yet through the state's program.

Here is the timeline for when those and other states have said they will open vaccination eligibility to the general public:

  • March 29: Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio, North Dakota, Louisiana
  • March 30: Minnesota
  • March 31: Indiana
  • April 1: Montana, Connecticut
  • April 2: New Hampshire
  • April 5: Michigan, Tennessee, Idaho, Iowa, Florida, Nevada
  • April 7: North Carolina
  • April 9: Missouri
  • April 12: Illinois, Kentucky
  • April 15: California
  • April 19: Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island
  • April 27: Maryland
  • April, no set date: New Mexico, Virginia, Colorado
  • May 1: Wisconsin, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, Nebraska, Kansas, Hawaii, Delaware, Alabama, New Jersey, Pennsylvania
  • May 3: South Carolina

For all states currently vaccinating anyone 16 and older, people ages 16 or 17 can only receive a Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, as it is the only option authorized for use in that population so far. The vaccines made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are authorized for use in adults 18 and older.

11:42 a.m. ET, March 26, 2021

White House says Johnson & Johnson expected meet goal of delivering 20 million Covid-19 vaccines in March

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine are prepared at a clinic in Los Angeles on March 25.
Doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine are prepared at a clinic in Los Angeles on March 25. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson is expected to meet its self-imposed goal of delivering 20 million Covid-19 vaccines by the end of March, White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said on Friday.

While the company has consistently said it was on track to meet the goal, Biden administration officials have expressed doubts.

 “We've done a lot to help J&J. We're monitoring that very closely, and we anticipate a significant increase at the end of this month, which will enable them to hit at least 20 million doses,” Jeff Zients said at the White House Covid-19 Response Team briefing on Friday. Next week, the company should be able to deliver at least 11 million additional doses, which would take them to 20 million doses.

The J&J vaccine was authorized at the end of February, but the company struggled to ramp up production of its single-dose vaccine. It only had 4 million doses ready to ship when it was authorized; about 9 million have now shipped.

Zients said that J&J is still in its “earlier stages of manufacturing” compared to the other Covid-19 vaccines, but the White House expects that there will be a more “regular weekly cadence.”

Some more background: In February, the company announced it was working to expand production of the vaccine. The Biden administration has also worked closely with the company to speed up the process, including using the Defense Production Act to help the company obtain more materials and equipment to make the vaccine.

The President also helped broker a deal for rival Merck to make more of the vaccines for J&J in the coming months.

On Tuesday, Catalent, a fill-and-finish plant helping Johnson & Johnson produce the vaccine, said it received an OK from the US Food and Drug Administration to ship the vaccine. The company had been producing the vaccine for the past couple of months, but has not disclosed how many doses were ready. 

The J&J vaccine has several advantages since it is just one dose and doesn’t require any special refrigeration, like the other two authorized vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

10:39 a.m. ET, March 26, 2021

White House announces plans for 3 more mass vaccination sites

From CNN's Betsy Klein

The Biden administration on Friday announced three new federally-supported mass vaccination sites in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia, part of continued efforts to combat inequity in the pandemic.

“We’re also going to be bringing more federally-run mass vaccination centers online, including three new sites we’re announcing today in Boston, Massachusetts, Norfolk, Virginia, and Newark, New Jersey,” White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said during the briefing Friday.

Those three sites will deliver a combined 15,000 vaccine doses per day, Zients said.

The three new sites come after the administration announced a vaccination center in Washington state on Monday. Now, there are 25 federally-run sites, delivering more than 115,000 shots per day.

11:57 a.m. ET, March 26, 2021

New Covid-19 restrictions set to take place in Paraguay as health care system faces collapse

From CNNE's Sanie López Garelli, Radina Gigova and Abel Alvarado

Health care workers place the body of a Covid-19 victim into a human remains pouch in an intensive care unit of the National Hospital in Itauguá, Paraguay, on March 17.
Health care workers place the body of a Covid-19 victim into a human remains pouch in an intensive care unit of the National Hospital in Itauguá, Paraguay, on March 17. Jorge Saenz/AP

As Paraguay's health care system is facing collapse due to a surge in coronavirus cases, additional restrictive measures will be in place for the Holy Week leading up to Easter and Palm Sunday, authorities have announced. 

The new measures will take effect on Saturday and will continue until Sunday, April 4. 

As part of the measures, only "minimal and indispensable movements" of citizens will be allowed for the transfer of sick people or for the purchase of food from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time. 

Short, medium and long-distance public transport buses will not circulate between urban centers and the interior of the country, but buses in the Asuncion metropolitan area will operate normally. Restaurants will be allowed to work only for food deliveries.

Dr. Leticia Pintos, director of the country's Health Networks and Services, said Friday that intensive care units across the country are at 100% occupancy. 

Health Minister Julio Borba said Wednesday that cases in the country have skyrocketed, partly because the Brazilian Manaus variant P.1 is already present in the country. Although just two cases were initially detected, the circulation is already community-based, he said.  

Earlier this week, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Carissa Etienne highlighted the increase of cases in Paraguay, Uruguay and Chile.

However, Paraguay's borders will remain open for now, authorities said Friday, but 13 border control posts have been established.  

The Ministry of Sports has announced that the Paraguayan football season will not be suspended, it is already underway without audiences.

Paraguay has recorded a total of at least 202,700 coronavirus cases and 3,910 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest numbers released by the health ministry.