March 29 coronavirus news

By James Griffiths, Joshua Berlinger, Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Christopher Johnson, CNN

Updated 7:50 p.m. ET, March 30, 2021
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4:49 p.m. ET, March 29, 2021

Only 1 US state hasn't shared when it plans to start vaccinating everyone 16 and older

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

Arkansas is the only state left in the US to announce when it plans to open up coronavirus vaccinations to everyone eligible under US Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization.

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: "We do anticipate meeting the May 1 benchmark."

Meanwhile, New York is the most recent state to announce its plans for vaccinating everyone 16 and older. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that the expansion would begin on April 6 — with eligibility opening up to residents 30 years of age and older beginning Tuesday morning.

A dozen states already have expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility to anyone 16 and older. 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. 

Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio, North Dakota, Louisiana and Kansas expanded to anyone 16 and older on March 29. Several states that already announced plans to open up vaccine eligibility by early May have changed their timelines to open up in late March or early April. 

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

  • 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, Hawaii, Delaware, Alabama, Pennsylvania, New Jersey

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.

4:13 p.m. ET, March 29, 2021

Covid-19 cases on the rise among Brazil's younger age groups, report says

From CNN's Rodrigo Pedroso

Covid-19 cases are on the rise among Brazil’s younger age groups, the Brazilian research institute Fiocruz found in its latest coronavirus report. 

"The country is in a situation of collapse of the health system. At the same time, the pandemic has been gaining new characteristics affecting younger age groups: 30 to 39 years, 40 to 49 years and 50 to 59 years," according to the Fiocruz findings published Friday.

The report analyzed weekly data from the country’s health ministry from Jan. 1 to March 13, 2021.

The analysis showed an increase of more than 500% in infections among people 30 to 39; a more than 600% increase among people 40 to 49 and more than 500% among people 50 to 59.

The total number of coronavirus cases nationwide, among all age groups, grew by 319% during that same period of time, the report states.

Since the beginning of the second Covid-19 wave on November 2020, there has been an increased demand for health services by symptomatic young patients in Brazil, Fiocruz researchers said.

While more younger people are becoming infected with the virus, Covid-19 deaths are still more common among older people, the report said.

As of Sunday, Brazil reported more than 12.5 million cases of Covid-19 and at least 312,206 coronavirus-related deaths.

7:50 p.m. ET, March 30, 2021

Johnson & Johnson says it will supply 200 million Covid-19 vaccines to Europe this year

From CNN's Zahid Mahmood

Ted S. Warren/AP/FILE
Ted S. Warren/AP/FILE

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson announced Monday that it will supply Europe, including Norway and Iceland, with 200 million coronavirus vaccines this year.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was approved by the European Medicine’s Agency – the EU’s medical regulator – on March 11, following approval of vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

In a statement from Johnson & Johnson, the company said the tentative delivery schedule will begin in April to June, in line with their agreement with the European Commission.

“[Johnson & Johnson] will continue to work closely with our partners, regulatory authorities and governments to expedite all steps of the vaccine production process and to activate our manufacturing sites as quickly as health authority approvals allow, in order to ensure the safe and high-quality production of our vaccine,” the statement said.

J&J’s announcement comes amid growing frustration in Brussels over a shortfall in vaccine supply to the bloc, particularly over AstraZeneca’s failure to meet its contractual obligations – whilst continuing to meet the UK’s targets. 

Correction: An earlier version of this post and headline incorrectly stated that Johnson & Johnson will supply 200 million Covid-19 vaccines to Europe in April. They will supply 200 million vaccines to Europe this year.

3:32 p.m. ET, March 29, 2021

Italian prime minister hopeful EU will achieve herd immunity by end of July  

From CNN's Livia Borghese

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has said Europe should be able to achieve herd immunity for the end of July, based on current vaccine supply.  

“The vaccine supplies assured by the EU Commission for the next few months should be more than sufficient to achieve the (herd) immunity for the month of July throughout Europe”, Draghi said in a statement from his office. 

Draghi said the vaccination rollout is “quickly improving” and urged the EU to be optimistic. “The goals set for April and May, in reference to vaccine supplies and the number of vaccinations, equal to half a million vaccinated per day, no longer seem so far away,” the statement said.

Italy is currently in the middle of a lockdown, as the government attempts to contain a surge of coronavirus cases mainly due to the presence of new variants. 

Measures introduced to reduce the virus spread have been effective across the country, he said. According to a decree passed by the Italian government, measures started on March 15 and will be effective through April 6

According to the government website, Italy has vaccinated 9.5 million people, but under 3 million have received a second dose. And due to delays only 53% of people over the age of 80 are still waiting for the first shot.  

3:26 p.m. ET, March 29, 2021

Thousands more vaccination sites coming within 3 weeks, Biden says

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

The US will add tens of thousands of vaccination sites, including 12 federally-run mass vaccination sites, in an effort to get a vaccine site within five miles of 90% of all Americans in the coming weeks, President Biden announced on Monday.

“In this race against the rapidly spreading virus as fast as we are going, we need to go faster,” the President said during an event at the White House. “So to make it easier for Americans to get vaccinated as the supply grows and vaccination eligibility expands, I'm directing my Covid team to ensure there is a vaccine site within five miles of 90% of all Americans by April the 19th, three weeks from today.”

There are currently around 17,000 pharmacies giving vaccine shots, Biden said, but that number will grow to nearly 40,000 within the next three weeks.

“That will more than double the number of pharmacies where you can go get vaccinated,” he added.

Biden said the new mass vaccination sites would allow “tens of thousands of people … to drive up, get a vaccine shot while on the car and leave and less than an hour.”

“Over 60% of the shots given at these sites goes to minority communities, because they're in minority communities. We have to reach out. They're the ones most affected by the vaccine – by both the vaccine but also by the pandemic,” the President said.

He also announced that “more aid” will be sent to states “to expand the opening more community vaccination sites. More vaccines, more sites, more vaccinators, all designed to speed our critical work.”

Watch here:

3:21 p.m. ET, March 29, 2021

Biden says the war against Covid "is far from won"

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

President Biden echoed the dire warning of Dr. Rochelle Walesnky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, telling Americans that the war versus Covid is “far from won."

“The CDC expressed earlier today, this is not a time to lessen our efforts,” Biden said during remarks at the White House on Monday. “We could still see a setback in the vaccination program. And most importantly, if we let our guard down now, we could see a virus getting worse, not better.”

Biden called out “reckless behavior” he has seen on television, likely referring to images of partiers gathering during spring break, saying it threatens to wipe out gains the US has made in combatting the virus. 

“Because we're in the life and death race with a virus that is spreading quickly, with cases rise and again, new variants are spreading. And sadly, some of the reckless behavior we've seen on television over the past few weeks, is that more new cases are to come in the weeks ahead.” he said. “With vaccines there's hope, which is a very good thing to state the obvious, but people are letting up on precautions, which is a very bad thing.”

Earlier Monday, Walensky warned of "impending doom," with a rise in Covid cases across the country. 

"What we've seen over the last week or so is a steady rise of cases," Walensky said. "I know that travel is up and I just worry that we will see the surges that we saw over the summer and over the winter again."

“As much as we're doing America, it's time to do even more. All of us have to do our part, every one of us,” Biden added.

Watch here:

3:15 p.m. ET, March 29, 2021

Biden announces funding to provide seniors and people with disabilities transport to get Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

President Biden announced on Monday that his administration would be providing funding to community groups to provide vulnerable populations with transportation to get the coronavirus vaccine. 

The President said during remarks at the White House that the US needs to “make it easier for those who want shots who cannot access vaccination sites to get vaccinated.” 

“We know that there are a number of seniors and people with disabilities who may be isolated and have lack of access to transportation, and there are community groups that can help, who are trying to help now. So, our fourth announcement today is that I’m sending out millions of dollars through the Department of Health and Human Services to provide assistance, including transportation so more vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities can get their shots,” Biden said. 

“Neighbors helping neighbors – what a truly American effort,” he added. “We cannot let transportation be a barrier to any senior getting a vaccination.” 

Watch here:


3:14 p.m. ET, March 29, 2021

Biden calls on state and local officials to "please" reinstate the mask mandate

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Biden made a plea to the nation’s governors Monday as the US faces the possibility of another wave of Covid-19 infections.

“I’m reiterating my call for every governor, mayor, and local leader to maintain and reinstate the mask mandate. Please. This is not politics. Reinstate the mandate if you let it down,” Biden said during remarks on the state of vaccinations Monday.

The plea comes as some states have lifted requirements for face coverings, as well as guidance on restaurant capacity and other measures, and cases have again begun to rise. Last week, the administration called on states to slow the relaxation of Covid guidelines.

With a nod to the role of the private sector, Biden also suggested businesses should also require the use of masks.

“The failure to take this virus seriously precisely what got us to this mess in the first place, risk more cases, more deaths,” he said.

Biden also renewed calls for Americans to wear masks, framing the choice as a “patriotic duty.”

“I need the American people do their part as well. Mask up, mask up. It's a patriotic duty. It's the only way we ever get back to normal,” he said.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said she would be conveying Biden’s message to governors on Tuesday after she warned of “impending doom” over concerns about another wave of Covid-19 cases.

“With regard to the surging, we are working closely with the states. I will be speaking with the governors tomorrow to try and reinforce the need for current restrictions to not open up,” Walensky said earlier Monday. “I think what we’ll do on masking will really depend on where we are 30 days from now.”

Watch here:

2:52 p.m. ET, March 29, 2021

"Private sector" will oversee Covid-19 vaccine passports in US, White House adviser says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

It's not the federal government, but "the private sector" that will likely create and store data for Covid-19 vaccine passports, Andy Slavitt, the White House's senior adviser for Covid-19 response, said on Monday. 

Vaccine passports are a way for people to prove they have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

"The government here is not viewing its role as the place to create a passport, nor a place to hold the data of citizens. We view this as something that the private sector is doing, and will do," Slavitt said during a virtual White House briefing. 

Instead, the Biden administration is working to develop a set of standards for such a vaccine passport program or database.

"What's important to us, and we're leading an interagency process right now to go through these details, are that some important criteria be met with these credentials. Number one, that there is equitable access — that means whether or not people have access to technology or whether they don't. It's also important that we recognize that there are still many, many millions and millions of Americans that have not yet been vaccinated. So that's a fundamental equity issue," he said.

"Privacy of the information, security of the information, and a marketplace of solutions are all things that are part of what we believe in, as is the ability for people to access this free, and in multiple languages," Slavitt said. "So, I think you will see more from us as we complete our interagency process. But this not slowing down the process in any way."

He went on to describe why the government will be involved in the process.

"The core here is that Americans, like people around the world who are vaccinated, will want to be able to demonstrate that vaccination in various forms," Slavitt said. "This is going to hit all parts of society, so naturally the government is involved."