April 22 coronavirus news

By Nicholas Pearce, Ivana Kottasová and Sophie Jeong, CNN

Updated 0703 GMT (1503 HKT) April 26, 2021
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4:06 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

India bans supply of oxygen for industrial purposes as shortages continue amid Covid-19 surge 

From CNN's Manveena Suri 

Workers sort oxygen cylinders used for Covid-19 coronavirus patients at a facility in Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital in Ajmer on April 22.
Workers sort oxygen cylinders used for Covid-19 coronavirus patients at a facility in Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital in Ajmer on April 22. Himanshu Sharma/AFP/Getty Images

India banned the supply of oxygen for industrial purposes as oxygen shortages continue in many hospitals in the capital, New Delhi, amid a deadly second wave of Covid-19 in the country.    

In an order issued by India’s Ministry of Home Affairs on Thursday, it also said no restrictions are to be imposed on the movement of medical oxygen between states.  

The ministry's order came as a response to reports about states blocking the movement of vehicles carrying medical oxygen.  

The union territory of Delhi, which includes the national capital, does not produce its own oxygen and relies on central government allocations of oxygen from various manufacturers based on their requirement, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in a news conference on Thursday.    

Some neighboring states that supply oxygen have been obstructing supply to Delhi, Kejriwal said, appealing to states to “fight this together.”    

Some renowned private hospitals in Delhi, such as Fortis, have taken to social media to urge the prime minister’s office and government officials to boost supplies of oxygen.    

With shortages being reported across the country, local and state leaders have been appealing to the federal government for more oxygen and medicine.  

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared to answer those calls on Tuesday, announcing plans for the delivery of 100,000 cylinders of oxygen nationwide, new oxygen production plants, and hospitals dedicated to Covid-19 patients.  

On Thursday, Modi chaired a meeting to review the oxygen supply across the country and ways in which to boost production of oxygen and improve distribution.    

During the meeting, he stressed that state authorities should come down heavily on those hoarding supplies, according to a government news release.   

3:48 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Iran reports more than 24,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Ramin Mostaghim

Iran's ministry of health reported 24,092 new daily coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of cases to at least 2,335,905 since the beginning of the pandemic.

The country also reported at least 453 new Covid-19-related deaths, bringing the total death toll to at least 68,366.

At least 5,038 patients remain hospitalized in intensive care units, the health ministry said.

Iran is the hardest hit country in the Middle East in terms of the pandemic. It is suffering a fourth wave of coronavirus, according to President Hassan Rouhani. 

The health ministry said 301 cities and towns have been categorized as "Red Zones" in Iran. These zones are in semi-lockdown and nonessential businesses are closed.

3:22 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Rhode Island will eliminate outdoor mask requirement starting May 7

From CNN's Ganesh Setty

Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee announced a slew of reopening measures in the state for the month of May. 

Starting on May 7, masks will only be required indoors, or when it is not possible to maintain at least 3 feet of space outdoors. All businesses, including restaurants and gyms, can operate at 80% capacity provided that 3 feet of space can still be maintained, the governor said during a news conference Thursday. 

Bars will still be limited to seated-only service and there must be plexiglass in between patrons.

Social gatherings, meanwhile, will be capped to 25 individuals indoors and 75 outdoors. Indoor assembly venues will be limited to 80% and up to 500 individuals, while outdoor venues will have no capacity cap, McKee said. 

On May 28, all of Rhode Island’s businesses may operate at full pre-Covid capacity, though masks and three feet spacing will still be required indoors.

Social gatherings will also have no limit either indoors or outdoors, the governor said, adding that indoor assembly venues should still maintain 3 feet distance between individuals. 

Bars can resume indoor standing service without the requirement of plexiglass barriers.

Any events with 2,500 or more individuals must still be signed off by the state’s department of business regulation and municipal authorities. 

The governor said that the reopening steps were announced a week ahead of schedule thanks to the state’s progress on vaccinations. 

“Vaccinations keep you safe. If you are not vaccinated, you run a risk,” the governor cautioned. 

However McKee later said, while answering a reporter question, that it is still not time to lift Rhode Island’s state of emergency since it has not yet reached the goal of vaccinating at least 70% of the eligible adult population. 

“The reason we have a state of emergency is because we still believe there is one. And when we get to the point when we don’t feel as though we have one, we’ll remove that state of emergency,” he said. “And I think that, you know, there’s many factors, but the main thing is the safety issue.”

According to state data, more than half a million Rhode Islanders have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while more than 340,000 residents are fully vaccinated. Among Rhode Island’s seniors ages 60 to 69, 70 to 79, and more than 80 years old, 80%, 91%, and 77% are at least partially vaccinated respectively, according to the state vaccination data

Note: These numbers were released by the state's public health agency, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services.

2:43 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Daily pace of US Covid-19 vaccinations drops below 3 million shots per day, CDC data shows

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

People receive the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the UMass Memorial Health Care COVID-19 Vaccination Center in the Mercantile Center in Worcester, Massachusetts on April 22.
People receive the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the UMass Memorial Health Care COVID-19 Vaccination Center in the Mercantile Center in Worcester, Massachusetts on April 22. Joseph Prezioso/AFPGetty Images

The seven-day average of new Covid-19 doses reported administered has dropped below 3 million shots per day for the first time in more than two weeks, according to data published Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The average pace of new doses reported administered has been greater than 3 million shots per day for most of April, reaching a peak of nearly 3.4 million shots per day on April 13.

Overall, 218,947,643 total doses have been reported administered – about 78% of the 282,183,915 total doses delivered.

More than 200 million of those doses have been reported administered since President Biden took office, reaching a threshold the administration had set for Biden’s 100th day in office about a week early.

About 41% of the US population – nearly 136 million people – have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, and about 27% of the population – more than 89 million people – are fully vaccinated, CDC data shows.

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

1:41 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

US federal officials weigh extending mask mandate on mass transit

From CNN's Greg Wallace

A face mask and social distance advisory sign at the Los Angeles International Airport, Friday, April 9.
A face mask and social distance advisory sign at the Los Angeles International Airport, Friday, April 9. Kirby Lee/AP/FILE

Federal officials are currently considering whether to renew the transportation mask requirement that expires next month, an official familiar with the discussions told CNN.  

The early February order from the Transportation Security Administration applies to applies to airplanes, buses, trains and ferries, and transportation hubs like airports. It is set to expire in less than three weeks on May 11.  

The agency is currently consulting with health experts, said the official, who declined to predict whether the order will be renewed or allowed to expire.   

TSA has received nearly 2,000 reports alleging violations from across the multiple modes of transportation, the official said. The agency disclosed in mid-February that it had received “fewer than 1,000” reports alleging non-compliance.  

The agency has also reached the point of sending citations to alleged violators, the official said. The official could not say how many have been issued. There are multiple investigatory and review steps before a citation is ultimately issued.   

Voices within the aviation industry that had pushed both the Biden and Trump administrations for such an order called for a renewal this week. They said the Biden administration’s order in February added teeth and consistency to a patchwork of local orders that applied to buildings like airports, and company policies requiring masks on airplanes and other vehicles.   

“We do think it should maintain the mask mandate,” Nick Calio, who leads the industry association Airlines for America, said at a Senate hearing on Wednesday. “It has helped considerably on airplanes and in airports.”

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said the government can support her members enforcing the order by “making it very clear to the public” that masks remain a requirement.  

Some governors have rescinded orders or allowed mask requirements in their states to expire. President Biden has taken a different approach. Soon after taking office in January, he directed the TSA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Transportation Department, and other agencies to require masking.  

At the Wednesday hearing, Sen. Roger Wicker, a Republican from Mississippi, who has been photographed not properly wearing a mask on aircraft, said passengers should do so “until the government changes the requirement.”   

“It does seem, though, sometime in the future that this thing needs to end,” Wicker added.    

Dr. Leonard Marcus, who has studied coronavirus transmission on airplanes at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told Wicker that the circulation of variants makes it difficult to say how long masks will be needed in enclosed spaces.  

“For sure when we’re on the plane, when we’re going through the airport buildings, when we’re indoors, let’s keep those masks on,” Marcus said. “We want to make this crisis end as soon as possible.”

12:19 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Go There: Send CNN's Sanjay Gupta your questions about the US vaccine rollout 

President Biden touted the anticipated milestone of the United States administering 200 million coronavirus vaccine shots since he took office and urged businesses to give their employees paid time off to get vaccinated as health officials now warn vaccine supply will likely outstrip demand in the next few weeks.

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta will be live with latest on the vaccine rollout. What are your questions? Submit them in in the form below.

12:38 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

UAE suspends all inbound flights from India due to Covid-19 surge

From CNN's Hamdi Alkhshali 

Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images
Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images

The United Arab Emirates’ General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and the National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA) announced the suspension of all inbound flights for national and international carriers coming from the Republic of India. They said it was a precautionary and preventive health measure to limit the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The decision to suspend flights came after studying and evaluating the epidemiological situation in the friendly Republic of India and within the framework of continuous coordination and cooperation with all relevant authorities inside and outside the country that continuously monitor developments in the situation to maintain the security and safety of civil aviation," the GCAA said in a statement.

Cargo flights between the two countries will continue as usual, the statement added.

The travel ban includes inbound transit passengers with exception of transit flights coming to the UAE and heading to India, the GCAA said.

The agency indicated that people traveling from India via other countries must have been in those countries for at least 14 days to be allowed to enter the UAE. This rule will go into force as of 23:59 local time on April 24 for 10 days, and it will be extended if needed.

The GCAA confirmed that nationals of the UAE and diplomatic missions between the two countries – including official delegations, businessmen's planes and golden residence holders – are excluded from this ban, provided they take preventive measures that include a 10-day quarantine and a PCR test at the airport as well as another test on the fourth and eighth days of entering the country. The period of their PCR test will also be reduced from 72 hours to 48 hours before flying, provided that the tests are issued by accredited laboratories using acceptable QR Codes.

9:23 a.m. ET, April 22, 2021

US jobless claims fell more than expected last week and hit a pandemic low

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

Claims for unemployment benefits went down more than expected last week.

Another 547,000 American workers filled jobless claims last week, adjusted for seasonal swings. It was a new low for claims since the pandemic started and fewer than analysts surveyed by Refinitiv expected. 

Economists are confident that the labor market recovery will gather speed as the economy reopens fully and more people get vaccinated. But jobless claims rose in two of the past three weeks, stressing that the road to recovery will be bumpy.

Claims for pandemic unemployment assistance, which provides benefits for people like the self-employed who aren't eligible for regular state benefits, rose slightly to 133,319 without seasonal adjustments.

Added together, just under 700,000 people filed for benefits last week without seasonal adjustments.

Meanwhile, the count for continued jobless claims — the number of people filing for at least two weeks in a row — also fell, albeit at a slower pace. In the week ended April 10, continued claims stood at nearly 3.7 million.

9:42 a.m. ET, April 22, 2021

American Airlines says its recovery is beginning, but the pandemic "far from over"

From CNN's Pete Muntean

Ross D. Franklin/AP
Ross D. Franklin/AP

American Airlines lost $2.7 billion in the first quarter of 2021 and the airline’s top executives stress “the pandemic is far from over.”

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom told employees in a company-wide memo that while it flew 24 million passengers in the first quarter, its revenues are still down 53% compared to pre-pandemic figures in 2019. 

“We have to continue to fight like never before,” the memo said. “Customers are returning to travel and there is no doubt the pace of the recovery is accelerating.”

Transportation Security Administration figures show air travel remains at 60% of pre-pandemic levels despite a surge that began last month. TSA screened more than 1.1 million people at airports on Wednesday, the 42nd straight day of figures higher than one million.