Key coronavirus model projects more than 618,000 Covid deaths in the US by August
From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas
About 618,523 people will have died from coronavirus in the US by August 1, according to the latest forecast from the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s (IHME) influential coronavirus model.
That projection accounts for the scale up of Covid-19 vaccine distribution in the US over the next 90 days and continued spread of the B.1.1.7 virus variant throughout the nation.
An April 1 forecast projected 609,000 deaths by July 1 and warned that continued relaxation of public health measures and increases in mobility could lead to large surges of cases, like those seen in Michigan.
In the worst-case scenario, in which fully vaccinated people return to pre-pandemic levels of mobility, the model predicts 697,573 deaths by August 1. If 95% of the US population wore masks, the projection drops to 604,413 deaths by August 1.
5:23 p.m. ET, April 9, 2021
Bolivia extends border closure with Brazil over Covid-19 concerns
From CNN's Florencia Trucco and Abel Alvarado
Bolivia's border with Brazil will remain closed for one additional week until April 17, so that further Covid-19 infections can be avoided, authorities announced on Friday.
"After reviewing the different evaluations regarding the epidemiological evolution at the border, it was decided to close another seven more days through a multi-ministerial resolution," Bolivia's Vice Minister of Foreign Trade and Integration, Benjamín Blanco, told the state Bolivian Information Agency (ABI).
As of Thursday, Bolivia's health ministry reported a total of 279,207 coronavirus cases and 12,412 deaths.
5:30 p.m. ET, April 9, 2021
FDA "highly likely" to allow Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 15, official says
From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen
It’s “highly likely” the US Food and Drug Administration will allow Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine to be used in children aged 12 to15, according to the acting chairman of an FDA vaccine advisory committee.
“It’s highly likely, if the data submitted support it,” said Dr. Arnold Monto, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan. Monto is also serving as acting chairman of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee in their review of Covid-19 vaccines.
“I think it could be done relatively quickly,” he added.
Pfizer applied to the FDA earlier today to expand its emergency use authorization (EUA) or its vaccine to be used in children aged 12 to 15. Currently it is authorized for ages 16 and up.
Monto said the FDA likely won’t ask the committee he chairs to meet to discuss expanding the use of Pfizer’s vaccine down to 12-year-olds.
“They’re not going to have advisories every time they tweak things,” he said.
He couldn’t speculate on how long it would take the FDA to consider Pfizer’s request to amend its EUA.
Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccines have been authorized for use in people over the age of 18.
3:01 p.m. ET, April 9, 2021
Brazil's Sao Paulo state and Rio de Janeiro announce easing of some Covid-19 restrictions
From CNN's Rodrigo Pedroso
The Brazilian state of Sao Paulo will be easing some of its coronavirus restrictions starting Monday, the regional government announced Friday.
The level of restrictions will be assessed again on April 18, authorities said.
The head of the Covid-19 task force in Sao Paulo state, Joao Gabbardo, said the current restrictions have brought the desired results – the reduction of cases and hospitalizations – but a wider opening of activities is out of the question at the moment.
Under the new guidelines, sports events would be able to take place without spectators and restaurants will be open for takeout. The ban on in-person religious ceremonies and a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time will remain in place.
During the worst of the crisis for Sao Paulo state, intensive care unit occupancy reached 90.5%, according to state health authorities, but on Thursday authorities said it had gone down to 88.6%.
Also on Friday, the city of Rio de Janeiro announced that it is easing some of its measures too, allowing bars and restaurants to be open until 9 p.m. local. The beaches will remain closed.
The level of restrictions in Rio city will be assessed again on April 19, authorities said.
Yesterday, the Brazilian Senate said it will open an inquiry into the government's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, as President Jair Bolsonaro continues to avoid lockdown measures despite the country's mounting death toll.
On Thursday, Brazil recorded over 4,200 new Covid-19 deaths in 24 hours, raising its total toll to more than 345,000 – second only to the United States.
2:38 p.m. ET, April 9, 2021
Canada's third wave on track to become its worst yet as Covid-19 hospitalizations spike
From CNN’s Paula Newton
Canada says its third wave of the pandemic is now more serious than the previous two, as hospitalizations and critical care admissions spike, and the vaccine rollout is unlikely to change things over the next few weeks.
“The end is definitely in sight but we’re not there yet. This third wave is more serious and we need to hang in there for another few weeks to make sure that we can flatten that curve, drop those numbers down again, to give a chance for vaccines to take hold,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a news conference in Ottawa Friday.
The situation is most serious in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, where officials say the province is close to its "worst case scenario" projections for the third wave. The province came dangerously close on Friday to shattering a record for a single day increase in cases and has already set a record this week for intensive care unit (ICU) admissions related to Covid-19.
“We’re seeing more and more young people being admitted to hospital with Covid-19. So to young people: There are more contagious and more serious variants out there, even if you’re younger, you can get sick very, very quickly,” Trudeau warned.
Ontario imposed a province-wide stay-at-home order Thursday but restrictions have only moderately decreased new infections, despite the fact that cities like Toronto have been in some form of lockdown since late November.
“I can understand the frustration, the anxiety, the concern that Canadians right across the country are feeling in seeing these numbers rise, I share it. I think we’re all recognizing that we don’t want to be in this third wave but we’re here,” Trudeau said.
Across the country, Canadian health officials say ICU admissions are up more than 20% in the last week alone as all of Canada’s most populous provinces cope with a third wave more threatening to the healthcare system than the last two.
“Right now my concern is, the thing to me is the ICUs filling up, not just hospitalizations, because there is an absolute limit to ICU capacity not necessarily because of equipment but because of people,” Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s top doctor, said speaking alongside Trudeau during Friday’s news conference.
Although Canada broke a record this week for vaccine doses administered, Tam said the vaccine rollout will not slow the rapid epidemic growth in cases, as more contagious variants spread throughout the country.
1:40 p.m. ET, April 9, 2021
CDC aware of 4 US states reporting adverse reactions to Johnson & Johnson vaccine
From CNN's Amanda Sealy and Amanda Watts
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are aware of several incidents involving adverse reactions to the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine in four states.
In a statement released on Friday, CDC spokesperson Kristen Nordlund told CNN:
“CDC is aware of several incidents of vaccine recipients experiencing dizziness, light headedness, feeling faint, rapid breathing, and sweating (vasovagal or anxiety-related) symptoms following COVID-19 vaccines in Iowa, Colorado, Georgia, and North Carolina.”
Officials in several of those states had previously confirmed to CNN that vaccinations were temporarily paused due to adverse reactions to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
At this time, CDC and FDA “are not recommending health departments stop administering any lots of COVID-19 vaccine,“ the statement says. “CDC has performed vaccine lot analyses and has not found any reason for concern.”
Severe side effects from the vaccine are uncommon, and many people won’t experience any side effects at all.
But the CDC said “some people will have pain or swelling at the injection site or fever, chills, or a headache. These typically don’t last long and are signs that your body is building protection.”
1:34 p.m. ET, April 9, 2021
Georgia pauses Johnson & Johnson vaccine at one location due to "adverse reactions"
From CNN’s Jennifer Henderson and Amanda Watts
Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccinations at the Cumming Fairgrounds in Georgia are being paused out of an abundance of caution, the Georgia Department of Health and the North Health District announced in a news release on Friday.
On Wednesday, eight people had adverse reactions after being vaccinated, according to a statement from Nancy Nydam, spokesperson for the state's Department of Health. One person was taken to the hospital for evaluation and the other seven people were monitored on-site and sent home, the release said.
“The reactions were consistent with common reactions in adults being vaccinated with any vaccine, but due to the number of individuals affected, the site stopped the J&J vaccinations to evaluate,” the statement said. In total, there were 425 Johnson & Johnson vaccines administered at that location on Wednesday, and “tens of thousands of J&J doses have been given statewide with no adverse reactions.”
“There is no reason to believe there is anything wrong with the vaccine itself, and other individuals who have received the J&J vaccine should not be concerned,” said Dr. Kathleen Toomey, Georgia's health commissioner. “We are looking into what happened and what may have caused the reactions, including the conditions at the fairgrounds such as heat and the ability to keep the site cool.”
Georgia is at least the third state to evaluate incidents with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. North Carolina and Colorado also paused vaccinations earlier this week due to adverse reactions. Nydam said Iowa is also “evaluating incidents,” related to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. CNN is reaching out to the Iowa Department of Health about the vaccine.
Remember: It's relatively common to experience side effects from any of the three vaccines available in the US – about 10% to 15% of volunteers in vaccine trials developed "quite noticeable side effects," Moncef Slaoui, former Operation Warp Speed Chief scientific adviser, said late last year.
Severe side effects, like allergic reactions, are far less common.
CNN Health has reached out to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about these incidents.
1:05 p.m. ET, April 9, 2021
Pfizer asks FDA to expand vaccine emergency use authorization for use in people ages 12 to 15
From CNN's Amanda Sealy
Pfizer requested an amendment to its emergency use authorization of its Covid-19 vaccine, to expand its use in people ages 12 to 15 in the United States.
Currently, the vaccine is authorized for emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration in people aged 16 and up.
“The companies plan to request similar rulings by other regulatory authorities worldwide in coming days. These requests are based on data from the pivotal Phase 3 trial in adolescents 12 to 15 years of age with or without prior evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection, which demonstrated 100 percent efficacy and robust antibody response after vaccination with the COVID-19 Vaccine,” Pfizer said in a statement Friday.
The other two Covid-19 vaccines – made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – are currently authorized for emergency use in people age 18 and older.
1:05 p.m. ET, April 9, 2021
Michigan governor urges residents to "redouble efforts" as cases keep rising despite vaccine efforts
From CNN’s Heather Law
Despite vaccination efforts, Michigan remains “unquestionably a national hot spot right now" for Covid-19, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said.
Michigan has not seen this high of a positivity rate since the first surge last spring despite conducting many more tests now, an official with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said.
“This indicates that there is now broad community spread,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health, said.
The positivity rate increased to 18%, which is four times what health officials saw last February, according to Khaldun
Hospitalizations are also increasing. At least 15.2% of hospital beds across the state are being used to care for Covid-19 patients, Khaldun said. Hospitals are evaluating and implementing their surge plans, including considerations of canceling elective surgeries, Khaldun stated.
The number of cases and patients doubled in the last two weeks at Spectrum Health and continue to climb each day, according to Spectrum Health CEO Tina Decker. The more contagious B.1.1.7 variant is believed to have contributed to the surge, Decker explained.
Gov. Whitmer proposed various efforts to double down on increasing case numbers.
The governor urged high schools specifically to voluntarily go remote for two weeks following spring break. Youth sports have also been encouraged to suspend practices and games during this two-week period, Whitmer added.
Over 56 pop-up testing sites have opened on school campuses across the state and are now offering post-spring break testing, Khaldun said. She urged those who have recently traveled or have plans to travel to get tested.
Whitmer and Khaldun both advised people to avoid indoor dining. Instead, they should choose to get takeout to support local businesses.
“To be very clear, these are not orders, mandates, or requirements. A year in, we all know what works, and this has to be a team effort. We have to do this together. Lives depend on it,” Whitmer stated during the press conference.
Even those who have already received the vaccine should mask up, wash hands, and socially distance, the governor emphasized.
“This is my ask to you, the people of Michigan. Please, redouble your efforts on these fronts for the next couple weeks, Whitmer said. “It’s everybody against Covid, and we have to keep going until we win.”
Over 5.1 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, meanwhile, have been administered to over 3.1 million people in Michigan, Whitmer said.
This marks a new milestone for the state. Nearly 40% of residents have been vaccinated in less than four months, and the rate continues to speed up, Whitmer said. Michigan administered 1 million doses, to surpass the 5 million mark, in less than two weeks, according to the governor.
CNN's Miguel Marquez contributed reporting to this post.