April 6 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Rob Picheta, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 0531 GMT (1331 HKT) April 7, 2021
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10:22 a.m. ET, April 6, 2021

Vaccine passports could "pose risks to fundamental rights" of EU citizens, watchdogs warn

From CNN's Amy Cassidy in Glasgow and Martin Goillandeau

The European Union's data protection bodies strongly advised against extending the use of vaccine passports beyond the current pandemic, warning they could pose “risks to the fundamental rights of EU citizens.”

The agencies also raised concerns over the prospect of a “de facto requirement” for people to present a vaccine passport to enter shops, restaurants, clubs, places of worship and gyms, as “has already been suggested.”

The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) and the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) published their joint opinion Tuesday to the European Commission – the executive arm of the EU– in relation to the proposed “Digital Green Certificate,” designed to unlock free movement between member states. 

The certificate “should only be limited to Covid-19, including its variants,” the bodies said.

“Should Member States still seek to implement the Digital Green Certificate on the basis of Member State law for any possible further use than the intended purpose of facilitating free movement between EU Member States, this may lead to unintended consequences and risks to the fundamental rights of EU citizens,” the opinion cautioned. 

“Any such further use of the Digital Green Certificate and its associated framework under a national legal basis should not legally or factually lead to discrimination based on having been (or not) vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19,” it said. 

Some background: The European Commission unveiled its proposed “Digital Green Certificate” in March. No exact end date was given for the certificates, with the Commission saying they will be suspended once the World Health Organization (WHO) declares the end of the international public health emergency caused by Covid-19. 

The proposed certificate will confirm that a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19, has received a negative test result or has recovered from Covid-19. The plan is that the certificate can be used across all EU Member States.

But the scheme “must not lead to the creation of any sort of personal data central database at EU level,” the EDPB and EDPS said.

9:45 a.m. ET, April 6, 2021

Norwegian Cruise Lines is asking CDC to let vaccinated passengers sail

From CNN's Chris Isidore

The Norwegian Jewel cruise ship, operated by Norwegian Cruise Line, is moored near the Port of Long Beach in California on January 29.
The Norwegian Jewel cruise ship, operated by Norwegian Cruise Line, is moored near the Port of Long Beach in California on January 29. Bing Guan/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Norwegian Cruise Line wants to start US cruises again on July 4, and it's willing to require all passengers and staff to be vaccinated before it sets sail.

Norwegian, which despite its name is a US-based company, sent a letter Monday to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, notifying it of its proposal. It's the first major American cruise line to lay out plans for a resumption of US sailings. 

No industry has been decimated quite like the US cruise ship industry, which hasn't been able to sail to or from a US port in more than a year. Other industries, even in travel and hospitality, are showing signs of a rebound. Rising vaccination rates are raising hopes of a return to normalcy. But the US cruise industry is still stuck in limbo with no clear sign when it'll be back in business. 

So on Monday, Norwegian essentially said: Enough. The company said it plans to require vaccinations for everyone on a ship at least two weeks before sailing.

"Vaccinations are the primary vehicle for Americans to get back to their everyday lives," said Norwegian CEO Frank Del Rio."We believe that through a combination of 100% mandatory vaccinations for guests and crew and science-backed public health measures ... we can create a safe, 'bubble-like' environment."
9:35 a.m. ET, April 6, 2021

Covid-19 variants are in all 50 US states. Here's what we know about the spread.

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

The highly contagious Covid-19 variant first identified in the UK has now been reported in every state in the US, and experts are concerned spreading variants could send cases surging.

Here's what you need to know:

About the variant

  • The B.1.1.7 variant was first spotted in the United Kingdom. It spreads more easily and appears to be deadlier as well.
  • More than 15,000 cases of that have been reported in the US so far.

What officials and health experts are saying

  • Covid-19 cases have been on the rise for four straight weeks in part because of the spread of variants, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci has pleaded with the US public to "hold out just a bit longer" as health experts fear coronavirus variants and pandemic fatigue could lead to a spring surge.
  • Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of Brown University School of Public Health warned that states need to hold off on lifting restrictions for another few weeks, saying, "we're not there yet and the variants make it particularly concerning."

The role of vaccines

  • States are also racing to get ahead of the variants by intensifying their vaccine rollouts.
  • The good news is that existing vaccines are very effective against the variants. The bad news is that the US may not be able to administer them fast enough to avoid another surge, Dr. Michael Osterholm, director for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota said.
  • President Biden meanwhile plans to announce today that he is moving up his deadline for states to make all American adults eligible for a coronavirus vaccine by almost two weeks. He will move up the deadline to April 19 from his original deadline of May 1.
9:12 a.m. ET, April 6, 2021

Biden set to announce today he's moving up deadline for all US adults to be eligible for Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

A health care worker prepares a dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine in Secaucus, New Jersey, on February 28.
A health care worker prepares a dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine in Secaucus, New Jersey, on February 28. Johnny Milano/Bloomberg/Getty Images

President Biden plans to announce Tuesday that he is moving up his deadline for states to make all American adults eligible for a coronavirus vaccine by almost two weeks.

With all states having opened eligibility to the public or at least having announced when they plan to do so, Biden will announce that every adult in the country will be eligible to be vaccinated by April 19, according to an administration official, instead of Biden's original deadline of May 1.

Biden announced last week that 90% of adults will be eligible to get a coronavirus vaccine by April 19, as well as have a vaccination site within five miles of where they live. Biden said the number of pharmacies participating in the federal pharmacy vaccination program was increasing from the current 17,000 locations to 40,000.

The President is scheduled to visit a vaccination site in Alexandria, Virginia, and then give remarks at 3:45 p.m. ET on the state of vaccinations from the White House.

That's when he is expected to say that 150 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered within his first 75 days in office, in line with a stated goal of 200 million shots by his 100th day in office.

Some more context: CNN has previously reported that all 50 states have announced when they plan to open vaccinations to everyone who is eligible, if they haven't done so already. Oregon, South Dakota, Nebraska, Hawaii and New Jersey all currently plan to open eligibility by May 1, so it remains to be seen how Biden's announcement changes those states' plans. Biden is expected to credit the governors' effort to meet his May 1 deadline for this change.

Read more about Biden's announcement here.

9:24 a.m. ET, April 6, 2021

Undelivered AstraZeneca vaccines slow Australia's rollout

From CNN's Angus Watson in Sydney

A nurse holds an AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine vial in Sydney on March 23.
A nurse holds an AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine vial in Sydney on March 23. Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Australia has fallen dramatically short of its initial vaccine targets due to difficulties in importing stock, including a 3.1 million dose shortfall in imports of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged Tuesday.

In January, the Morrison government set a target to administer 4 million first doses of Covid-19 vaccines to vulnerable Australians and frontline workers by the beginning of April. On Tuesday Morrison acknowledged that just 854,983 doses have been administered as of April 5.

The Morrison government has since revised its vaccine target, now hoping to give a first dose to every Australian that wants one by the end of October.

 “The challenges Australia has had has been a supply problem. It is pure and simple,” Morrison said at a news conference in Canberra.

 “There was over 3 million doses from overseas that were contracted that never came. And that's obviously resulted in an inability to get 3 million other doses out and distributed through the network,” Morrison said.

The 3.1 million doses are all of the AstraZeneca vaccine, according to Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd in a Tuesday interview with CNN affiliate Sky News Australia.

The Australian government has not said where the 3.1 million AstraZeneca doses were to be imported from, or why they were not delivered. However, Morrison told reporters Tuesday “we all are aware of the situation in Europe and other places that has frustrated that supply.”

Some more background: In March Italy acknowledged that it had invoked EU powers to prevent AstraZeneca from exporting 250,000 doses to Australia.

As of February, the Australian government had negotiated deals with Pfizer for 10 million doses, AstraZeneca for 53.8 million doses and Novavax for 51 million doses, all to be delivered by the end of 2021.

Australia hopes to make up any shortfall in imported doses with locally produced doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, of which it says it has 2.5 million waiting for batch approval by drug regulator the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

8:31 a.m. ET, April 6, 2021

Team sports bigger driver of Covid-19 spread in the US than classrooms, Fauci says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Plexiglass dividers surround desks at St. Anthony High School in Long Beach, California, on March 24.
Plexiglass dividers surround desks at St. Anthony High School in Long Beach, California, on March 24. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was asked on "Good Morning America" Tuesday about the fact that coronavirus variants are now infecting younger people – as well as what that means for parents and what they should do about school, sports and extracurricular activities.

 “We’re finding out that it’s the team sports where kids are getting together, you know, obviously many without masks, that are driving it, rather than in the classroom spread,” Fauci told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

“When you go back and take a look and try and track where these clusters of cases are coming from in the school, it’s just that," he continued.

Some more background: The highly contagious Covid-19 variant first identified in the UK has now been reported in every state in the US, and experts are concerned spreading variants could send cases surging.

More than 15,000 cases of the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant, which also appears to be more deadly, have been reported in the US. While the US races to get Americans vaccinated in time, many experts are asking the public to hold onto precautions for just a little while longer.

CNN's Madeline Holcombe contributed reporting to this post.

8:22 a.m. ET, April 6, 2021

Fauci hopes people who go on cruises get vaccinated against Covid-19

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas cruise ship is docked at PortMiami in Florida on March 2.
Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas cruise ship is docked at PortMiami in Florida on March 2. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on "Good Morning America” Tuesday that he hopes people who go on cruises take the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations and get vaccinated against Covid-19. 

“The CDC a couple of days ago, or yesterday, I think, came out with a recommendation saying they strongly recommend it, but they don’t require it,” Fauci said of vaccinations for cruise ship passengers.

“That’s sort of interesting, they really feel it’s important to get people vaccinated, particularly when you put them on a relatively closed environment, such as a cruise ship. So let’s hope that the people who go on the cruise take that recommendation from the CDC and do get vaccinated," he continued.

The CDC released further technical guidance for cruise ship operators Friday, a news release on the updated guidance included a recommendation that all eligible passengers and crew get a Covid-19 vaccine when one is available to them. 

8:16 a.m. ET, April 6, 2021

"I hope we don’t see any deleterious consequences" of Texas Rangers’ 100% capacity home opener, Fauci says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

People fill the stands at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, during a baseball game between the Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays on April 5.
People fill the stands at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, during a baseball game between the Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays on April 5. Jeffrey McWhorter/AP

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on “Good Morning America” Tuesday that the packed Texas Rangers baseball stadium is "concerning" and "risky."

On Monday, the Texas Rangers played their home opener with 100% capacity at the ballpark. No other MLB teams are allowing more than 50% capacity attendance.

“That’s concerning,” Fauci told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos when shown images of the game. “We certainly want to see baseball start getting back into the style that we’re used to it, but you want to do that gradually, you know, a few thousand at a time. But to just start right off, just essentially pulling that plug, I’m a bit concerned about that. I mean they’re taking a chance. It’s risky. I hope we don’t see any deleterious consequences of that.”
8:05 a.m. ET, April 6, 2021

US faces a tsunami of chronic disease deaths when the pandemic is over, former FDA commissioner says

From CNN's Maggie Fox

The US is set up for a tsunami of deaths caused by chronic diseases – especially heart disease – once the coronavirus pandemic is over, a former US Food and Drug Administration commissioner said Tuesday.

“Once the acute phase of this crisis is past, we will face an enormous wave of death and disability due to common chronic diseases (CCDs), with cardiometabolic diseases at the crest,” Dr. Robert Califf, who was FDA commissioner in the Obama administration and who now works at Verily Life Sciences and Google Health, wrote in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

It’s an ongoing problem that the pandemic has worsened, Califf argued. “Unlike its peers, the United States has seen declining life expectancy over the last few years after decades of steady progress. This reversal is chiefly due to increases in drug overdose and suicide, but deaths from CVD (cardiovascular disease), particularly stroke, have also increased.

"These challenges are coupled with adverse patterns of risk among younger people, including increases in obesity, hypertension, and glucose intolerance driven by poor diet and lack of exercise—patterns that portend increases in cardiometabolic disease for decades to come,” he wrote.

“This concerning pattern is compounded by an alarming increase in deaths directly from COVID-19 together with rising CCD- and drug-related deaths. The net effect is a substantial increase in excess death and a correspondingly steep drop in average U.S. life expectancy, perhaps by as much as three years,” Califf predicted.

The US has an opportunity to make big changes to fix some of the underlying problems, he said. These could include universal health care and better use of so-called big data, as well as better sharing of data and real-time tracking of chronic disease incidence to improve prevention strategies.

“The fight against COVID-19 has given us a glimpse of what is possible,” he wrote.

“If we act now, we can significantly reduce the damage from the impending tsunami.”