April 19 coronavirus news

By Sophie Jeong, Zamira Rahim, Aditi Sangal and Nicholas Pearce, CNN

Updated 0714 GMT (1514 HKT) April 20, 2021
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4:32 p.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Risk of coronavirus spreading on surfaces is low, CDC says

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid

The risk of surface transmission of Covid-19 is low, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday. Far more important is airborne transmission.

“CDC determined that the risk of surface transmission is low, and secondary to the primary routes of virus transmission through direct contact droplets and aerosols,” Vincent Hill, Chief of the Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch, said. 

Hill said the risk of transmission from touching a surface, while small, is elevated indoors. Outdoors, the sun and other factors can destroy viruses,” Hill said on a CDC-sponsored telephone briefing.

The virus dies “rapidly” on porous surfaces but can persist longer on hard, indoor surfaces.

Research also suggested that surface transmission was more likely in the first 24 hours after a person is infected, and that households where one person had Covid-19 did have a lower transmission rate when the household cleaned and disinfected surfaces.

The CDC has updated its guidance for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in community settings in light of this transmission risk.

“In most situations, cleaning surfaces using soap or detergent, and not disinfecting, is enough to reduce the already low risk of virus transmission through surfaces,” Hill said. “Disinfecting surfaces is typically not necessary, unless a sick person or someone positive for Covid-19 has been in the home within the last 24 hours.”

Hill said cleaning should be focused on high-contact areas, such as doorknobs and light switches.

4:25 p.m. ET, April 19, 2021

State Department will increase "Do Not Travel" advisories for about 80% of countries worldwide

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

The State Department said Monday that it continues to urge Americans against traveling abroad due to the coronavirus pandemic and that it would begin to update its travel advisories to be more aligned with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisories – an update that “will result in a significant increase in the number of countries at Level 4: Do Not Travel, to approximately 80% of countries worldwide.”

“This does not imply a reassessment of the current health situation in a given country, but rather reflects an adjustment in the State Department's Travel Advisory system to rely more on CDC's existing epidemiological assessments,” the agency’s statement said.

Level 4: Do Not Travel is the highest State Department travel advisory level.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose unprecedented risks to travelers,” it noted. “In light of those risks, the Department of State strongly recommends U.S. citizens reconsider all travel abroad.”

1:22 p.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Global Covid-19 cases increase for eighth week in a row, WHO chief says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Relatives of a COVID-19 victim carry her coffin in the "Martires 19 de Julio" cemetery on April 17, 2021 in the outskirts of Lima, Peru.
Relatives of a COVID-19 victim carry her coffin in the "Martires 19 de Julio" cemetery on April 17, 2021 in the outskirts of Lima, Peru. Raul Sifuentes/Getty Images

Global Covid-19 cases have increased for the eighth week in a row, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news briefing in Geneva on Monday.

“Last week new cases of Covid-19 increased for the eighth week in a row with more than 5.2 million cases reported — the most in a single week so far,” said Tedros.

Deaths also increased for the fifth straight week, he said, with more than 3 million deaths now having been reported to the organization.

“It took nine months to reach 1 million deaths, four months to reach 2 million and three months to reach 3 million deaths,” said Tedros. “Big numbers can make us numb, but each one of these deaths is a tragedy for families, communities and nations.”

Tedros added that infections and hospitalizations among people age 25 to 59 are “increasing at an alarming rate,” possibly due to highly transmissible variants and increased social mixing among younger adults.

 

11:58 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021

CDC working through a "handful" of reports of adverse events after J&J vaccine, agency director says

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is pictured in storage at a facility in Los Angeles, California, on April 15.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is pictured in storage at a facility in Los Angeles, California, on April 15. Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking at a "handful" of reported adverse events after use of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Monday. 

“There’s been a handful of cases, not an overwhelming number of cases. We are working through and adjudicating them and verifying whether they do in fact reflect a true case,” Walensky said during a White House Covid-19 briefing.

Walenksy said that it will be the work of the CDC and US Food and Drug Administration this week, in order to present findings at the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Friday. 

“We’re doing that work right now and we are encouraged that it hasn’t been an overwhelming number of cases, but we’re looking and seeing what’s come in,” she said. 

The CDC and FDA recommended pausing the use of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine last week after six cases of rare blood clots among women who received the vaccine.

Another case, in a 25-year-old man, was reported during the clinical trial of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.

11:54 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Low number of breakthrough Covid-19 cases in US shows "these vaccines are working," CDC director says

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky testifies at a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing, on April 15, in Washington, DC.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky testifies at a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing, on April 15, in Washington, DC. Amr Alfiky/Pool/Getty Images

The fact that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has received less than 6,000 reports of breakthrough Covid-19 cases among more than 84 million people fully vaccinated shows “these vaccines are working,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Monday. 

“Last week, we released data on the number of so-called breakthrough infections of people who, despite being vaccinated, still tested positive for Covid-19 more than 14 days after they’re getting their second vaccine dose,” Walensky said during a White House Covid-19 briefing on Monday. “So far out of more than 84 million people who are fully vaccinated, we have only received reports of less than 6,000 breakthrough cases.” 

The CDC’s website, which was updated last week, specifies there are at least 5,814 reports of breakthrough infections so far out of 75 million people fully vaccinated in the United States at the time.

With any vaccine, breakthrough cases are expected. The number of cases so far comes from just 43 states and is likely an underestimate, but “it still makes a really important point, these vaccines are working,” Walensky said. 

Among those nearly 6,000 cases, “approximately 30% had no symptoms at all. This is really encouraging news,” she said. 

“Here's the bottom line, getting a vaccine will help protect you. It will help protect others and it will help us end this pandemic. The more people get vaccinated, the fewer infections there will be, which means fewer variants will emerge, and fewer breakthrough infections will occur and the quicker we can get back to doing the things we love," the CDC director continued.  

12:15 p.m. ET, April 19, 2021

All Indians 18 years and older will be eligible for Covid-19 vaccines starting May 1

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

People register to receive a coronavirus vaccine at the Saifee Hospital in Mumbai, India, on April 12.
People register to receive a coronavirus vaccine at the Saifee Hospital in Mumbai, India, on April 12. Indranil Mukherjeee/AFP/Getty Images

Indian citizens who are 18 years or older will be eligible for Covid-19 vaccines starting May 1, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on the Press Information Bureau website.

"In a meeting chaired by [Prime Minister] Narendra Modi, an important decision of allowing vaccination to everyone above the age of 18 from 1st May has been taken," the statement noted. "He added that India is vaccinating people at world record pace& we will continue this with even greater momentum."

This comes as a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic has swept the country. India has recorded a total of 15,061,919 Covid-19 cases and 178,769 deaths, according to the health ministry.

India added a million new cases in less than a week, surpassing 14 million total cases on Thursday.

It is unclear whether the world's second most populous country, with 1.4 billion people, has the supply required to meet the demand.

Currently, only people who are health care workers, front line workers or 45 years and older are eligible to get vaccinated and already, vaccine supplies have dried up on the ground, with at least five states reporting severe shortages and urging the federal government to act.

With this latest announcement, India's vaccination campaign will be split into two strands. Government centers will continue to give free vaccines only to health care workers and frontline workers and those who are 45 or older. Private vaccination providers will be able to charge and provide vaccines to everyone aged 18 or older.

India will allow foreign-manufactured vaccines to be entirely utilized by the "open market" or private vaccination providers.

Under the "Liberalised and Accelerated Phase 3 Strategy of the National Covid-19 Vaccination program," vaccine manufacturers would supply 50% of their monthly doses to the central government and would be free to supply the remaining 50% doses to state governments and in the open market.

The government has been taking steps to expand its vaccine availability. Last week, it fast-tracked emergency use authorization for Covid-19 vaccines approved in other countries.

India produces more than 60% of all vaccines sold globally, and is home to the Serum Institute of India (SII,) the world's largest vaccine maker. The country has been working with COVAX, a global vaccine-sharing initiative that provides discounted or free doses for lower-income countries.

However, in the face of this crisis, the government and SII have shifted focus to prioritizing their own citizens at home.

9:15 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021

All Americans 16 years and older are eligible for Covid-19 vaccines starting today 

From CNN's Arlette Saenz and Christina Maxouris

A healthcare worker fills a syringe with a dose of the Moderna Inc. Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination site in Richmond, California, on April 15.
A healthcare worker fills a syringe with a dose of the Moderna Inc. Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination site in Richmond, California, on April 15. David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images

As all Americans 16 years and older become eligible for the vaccine today, the White House is launching a media blitz to raise awareness about Americans' vaccine eligibility, an administration official said.

Earlier this month, President Biden moved up the deadline for states to make all American adults eligible for the vaccine to April 19, after an original deadline of May 1. All 50 US states committed to Biden's expedited deadline earlier this month, with Hawaii becoming the last state to do so on April 7.

The White House blitz, outlined by the administration official, will include more than 30 local media interviews across the country. Part of their outreach will target specific constituencies, including Black, Latino and rural communities, through interviews with outlets such as the Rickey Smiley Morning Show, Telemundo and All Ag News. There will also be a series of national media hits featuring doctors.

White House Senior Adviser for Covid Response Andy Slavitt told CNN's Pamela Brown Sunday that 90% of Americans will be within 5 miles of a vaccine distribution site.

He added there are plenty of vaccine appointments available across the country, and while people might not be able to get an appointment Monday, it's getting substantially easier for people to get appointments, noting that there are more than 50 million doses out there waiting for people.

More than half of all US adults, meanwhile, have now gotten at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But some experts worry that now comes the hard part: reaching the audiences that aren't as eager to get vaccinated against the virus.

"I worry that we're starting to get to that point — which we always knew existed somewhere in the horizon — where the level of supply would outstrip the demand," epidemiologist Dr. Abdul El-Sayed told CNN on Sunday.

Read more about where things stand in US vaccinations here.

8:31 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Guidance on Johnson & Johnson vaccine could come in days with some restrictions, US surgeon general says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told CNN he anticipates that updated guidance on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could come in "days" and it may involve “restrictions around age or gender” depending on what the data shows.

It will require the US Food and Drug Administration and Center for Disease Control and Prevention to "come together and make that decision," he added.

Some background: The CDC and FDA recommended that the United States pause the use of the vaccine over six reported US cases of a "rare and severe" type of blood clot.

"If we think about the AstraZeneca experience in Europe, they ended up placing such restrictions as well," Murthy explained, adding that it "narrowed the group of people, who were not only eligible for the vaccine, but more specifically needed to take some additional precautions in mind before they took the vaccine just so they understood the full risks."

He emphasized that the pause will not impact the vast majority of the people who have received the J&J vaccine.

"The more than 7 million people, who have gotten the vaccine, will be fine," he said Monday. "It's also important to note that this is the safety system working. A signal was seen, it's being investigated. That's what you want — to know your vaccines are both safe and effective."

Watch his comments here:

8:11 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021

India's capital Delhi announces lockdown as Covid-19 cases continue to rise

From CNN's Esha Mitra

Police officers stop a vehicle at a check point during a weekend lockdown in Delhi, on Saturday, April 17.
Police officers stop a vehicle at a check point during a weekend lockdown in Delhi, on Saturday, April 17. Altaf Qadri/AP

Delhi, India's capital, will be under lockdown for one week until next Monday, April 26, the chief minister announced on Monday.

“If we don’t put a lockdown now we may end up in a tragedy,” Arvind Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi said.

As part of the lockdown, there will be a curfew on movement, starting 10 p.m. local time this Monday until 5 a.m. on April 26. However, essential products and service providers will be exempt from this rule.

All private offices and establishments, such as shops, malls, gyms, cinema halls and swimming pools, will remain closed, Delhi’s Disaster Management Authority said on Monday.

Delhi faces shortage of medical resources: Kejriwal said the city was facing a significant shortage in beds, oxygen supply and remdesivir injections. 

He acknowledged that the situation was grim, adding that one hospital “somehow arranged for oxygen in time” when it nearly ran out at 3 a.m. local time on Sunday morning.

The city administration has been taking a number of steps to ramp up health care infrastructure, including converting sports complexes, hotels and schools into Covid-19 care centers. 

On Sunday, Kejriwal said up to 2,000 oxygen beds would be added over the next two days at Yamuna sports complex in Delhi.

Delhi reported 25,462 new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday, bringing the total cases in the city to 853,460. At least 12,121 people have also died from the virus, according to the Delhi health department.