April 27 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Kara Fox and Niamh Kennedy, CNN

Updated 0544 GMT (1344 HKT) April 28, 2021
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2:16 p.m. ET, April 27, 2021

Biden: It is my "intention" to eventually send vaccines to India

President Joe Biden speaks about COVID-19, on the North Lawn of the White House on April 27 in Washington, DC.
President Joe Biden speaks about COVID-19, on the North Lawn of the White House on April 27 in Washington, DC. Evan Vucci/AP

President Biden said he's in touch with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the country battles a stunning Covid-19 surge and said it is his "intention" to eventually send vaccines to India.

"With regard to India, I spoke at length with Modi, the prime minister. We are sending immediately a whole series of help that he needs, including providing for those remdesivir and other drugs that are able to deal with this and prevent in some cases but help recovery," Biden said in White House remarks.

"Secondly, we are sending the actual mechanical parts that are needed for the machinery they have to build a vaccine. And that's being done as well. We're also discussing —I've discussed with him when we'll be able to send actual vaccines to India, which will be my intention to do," he added.

Biden also noted that when the US was "in a bind in the very beginning, India helped us."

Some background: India's Covid-19 pandemic has been spiraling in recent weeks, and daily cases have been rising continuously for the past 10 days. On Monday, India reported 352,991 new cases, breaking yet another record for the highest single-day figure globally.

In total, India has reported more than 17.6 million cases since the pandemic began last year. But the real number, experts fear, could be up to 30 times higher — meaning more than half a billion cases.

On the ground, these numbers translate to heart wrenching tragedy. Photos show grieving families dressed in full protective suits at mass cremations, performing last rites surrounded by dozens of other burning funeral pyres. Hospitals have run out of basic medical supplies, with many patients dying due to oxygen shortages. Family members are driving from clinic to clinic, frantically searching for open intensive care unit beds for their loved ones.

2:14 p.m. ET, April 27, 2021

CDC's outdoor mask guidance is "another great reason to get vaccinated," Biden says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

President Joe Biden speaks about COVID-19, on the North Lawn of the White House on April 27 in Washington, DC.
President Joe Biden speaks about COVID-19, on the North Lawn of the White House on April 27 in Washington, DC. Evan Vucci/AP

After the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new outdoor mask guidance for fully vaccinated individuals, President Biden once again encouraged all eligible Americans to get their coronavirus vaccine.

"The bottom line is clear: If you're vaccinated, you can do more things, more safely, both outdoors as well as indoors," Biden said. "So for those who haven't gotten their vaccination yet — especially if you're younger, or thinking you don't need it — this is another great reason to go get vaccinated. Now. Now."

Biden said that the more Americans get vaccinated, the faster the US gets "back closer to normal."

"Go get the shot. It's never been easier. And once you're fully vaccinated, you can go without a mask when you're outside, and away from big crowds," he added.

2:10 p.m. ET, April 27, 2021

Biden: More than 67% of US senior citizens are fully vaccinated

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

President Joe Biden speaks about COVID-19, on the North Lawn of the White House on April 27 in Washington, DC.
President Joe Biden speaks about COVID-19, on the North Lawn of the White House on April 27 in Washington, DC. Evan Vucci/AP

President Biden touted "stunning progress" in his administration's vaccine rollout and how Covid-19 cases and deaths have significantly decreased among US senior citizens.

"When I took office in January, we were losing literally tens of thousands of our seniors each week. Grandparents who are loved so dearly, moms and dads, pillars of every community, gone by the thousands every day. At that time, less than 1% of seniors were fully vaccinated when I took office. Today, in less than 100 days, more than 67%, two-thirds of our seniors, are now fully vaccinated. And more than 80% of our seniors have had at least one shot. That effort resulted in a drop of 80% in deaths among American seniors. A 70% drop in hospitalizations," Biden said.

The President also noted how vaccinations among White and seniors of color are "essentially equal."

"These numbers are a sign of progress on that front as well," Biden said.

2:08 p.m. ET, April 27, 2021

Biden delivers remarks on new US mask guidance 

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen, John Bonifield and Jacqueline Howard


President Biden delivered remarks from the White House on the state of the Covid-19 pandemic and the new outdoor mask guidance issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier today.

Fully vaccinated people can now unmask at small outdoor gatherings, or when dining outside with friends from multiple households. The CDC is telling unvaccinated people that they still need to wear a mask at such gatherings.

For the fully vaccinated who do chose to attend a crowded outdoor event, such as a live performance, parade or sporting event, wearing a mask is recommended.

The CDC advises vaccinated people to still wear masks in indoor public spaces, such as a mall, movie theatre or museum, the CDC continues to recommend wearing a mask.

People are considered fully vaccinated by the CDC two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or two weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Read more about the new guidance here.

1:45 p.m. ET, April 27, 2021

US restaurant Covid-19 relief fund will open May 3

 From CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich

The $28.6 billion US Restaurant Revitalization Fund will start taking applications on May 3, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced Tuesday.

The fund, passed in March as part the $1.9 stimulus bill, aims to help restaurants and bars that have suffered economic loss because of Covid-19. It is the first federal grant of its kind administered by the SBA. The grant does not need to be paid back.

“Restaurants are the core of our neighborhoods and propel economic activity on main streets across the nation," SBA Administrator Isabela Guzman said. "They are among the businesses that have been hardest hit and need support to survive this pandemic. We want restaurants to know that help is here.”

Restaurants will be eligible for funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue losses, up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per location.

However, more than 110,000 restaurants have closed since the pandemic began, according to the National Restaurant Association. The group is concerned that the demand for money will outpace the available funds. 

“We believe that it’s very likely the $28.6 billion dollar fund will be gone in a matter of weeks – possibly only a few. We expect that day one numbers will be through the roof," said Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President for Public Affairs for the National Restaurant Association. "We will continue to work with SBA and our members to ensure the application process goes smoothly, even as we’re alerting Congress to our concerns about the limits of the current funds.”

1:05 p.m. ET, April 27, 2021

Irish health officials recommend the use of AstraZeneca and J&J vaccine for people over 50

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in Dublin

Vaccines are administered at The Helix North Dublin vaccination centre on April 3, in Dublin.
Vaccines are administered at The Helix North Dublin vaccination centre on April 3, in Dublin. Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Irish health officials have recommended that the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines be administered to people over the age of 50. 

Ireland’s National Immunisation Advisory Council (NIAC) made the recommendation to the Irish Health Minister Stephen Donnelly Monday night, revising their previous advice that the AstraZeneca vaccine be only administered to people over 60. 

The recommendation was accepted by the Irish government with Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Micheál Martin hailing it as “good news” for Ireland’s vaccination program during a press conference Tuesday.  Acknowledging that Ireland had “lost some time” due to the safety concerns and supply shortfalls, Martin said it was “full speed ahead now in terms of the vaccination program.”

The Irish government has committed to giving a first dose to 80% of the adult population by the end of June, with Martin saying that they are still “broadly on target.”

At least 1,398,061 first doses had been administered leading up to April 25 in Ireland, according to Irish Department of Health data.

1:05 p.m. ET, April 27, 2021

Rise in vaccinations and fall in case rates motivated updated guidance, CDC director says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky speaks during a virtual White House briefing on April 27.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky speaks during a virtual White House briefing on April 27. White House

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was motivated to update its guidance for fully vaccinated people after seeing a rise in the number of vaccinated people and a fall in the rates of Covid-19 cases, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a virtual White House briefing on Tuesday.

"There's increasing data that suggests that most of transmission is happening indoors rather than outdoors – less than 10% of documented transmission in many studies have occurred outdoors," Walensky said.  

"We also know that there's an almost 20-fold increased risk of transmission in the indoor setting than in the outdoor setting. That, coupled with the fact that we now have 37% of people over the age of 18 fully vaccinated and the fact that our case rates are now starting to come down, motivated our change in guidance," Walensky said. "As more people get vaccinated and as case rates continue to come down, we will come up with further updates." 
1:00 p.m. ET, April 27, 2021

White House makes it easier for college students to get second vaccine dose in home state

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/Sipa USA/AP
Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/Sipa USA/AP

The Biden administration announced a measure to address concerns from states regarding college students on the cusp of leaving for summer vacation who may have only received one dose of two-dose Covid-19 vaccines.

The administration will ensure that pharmacies deploying vaccines via the federal pharmacy program “do not have residency requirements in place so that students who do return home can get their second dose in that home state,” White House Covid-19 adviser Andy Slavitt said during Tuesday's briefing.

Most pharmacies, he said, “will now offer anyone a second vaccine, regardless of where they got their first.”

The specific issue of college students at the end of the semester came up during a weekly call with governors led by White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients Tuesday.

“Of particular interest on the call was a discussion on how to best help college students get themselves vaccinated. This is a topic of keen interest to governors because many students who are getting the Moderna or Pfizer two dose vaccine might need to get their second shot at the location where they reside during the summer, often in another state,” Slavitt said.

He continued, “We at the federal government strongly support the work of states to focus on helping students to at least begin the vaccination process during the remaining school year,” adding that the administration is “very supportive of states in their effort to improve access and make it even easier for the students to get their shots.”

The administration’s view, Slavitt noted, is that college students “lead lives that make physical isolation somehow a little more challenging.” The 2020 to 2021 academic year has been particularly challenging for colleges and universities, with many college campuses open for in-person or hybrid learning.

12:45 p.m. ET, April 27, 2021

EU member states and Bhutan pledge to provide oxygen to India amidst crisis

From CNN's Esha Mitra and Mitchell McCluskey

The European Union's member states such as Ireland, Belgium, Romania, Luxembourg, Portugal and Sweden have said they will supply oxygen concentrators, ventilators and antiviral medicines, including Remdesivir, to India as the nation struggles with a critical shortage of oxygen, according to a statement from the European Commission Tuesday. 

“This support has been made in line with the coordinated effort by EU Member States currently underway to pool their resources in responding rapidly to tackle the alarming epidemiological situation in India,” the statement said.

This commitment was made following India’s request through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, the statement added.

“The EU stands in full solidarity with the Indian people and is ready to do our utmost to support them at this critical time,” said Janez Lenarčič, commissioner for crisis management. 

More support from other EU member states such as France and Germany is expected to be given in the coming days, according to the statement. 

India’s neighboring state of Bhutan also said that it would provide 40 metric tons of liquid oxygen to the Indian state of Assam, with which it shares a border, according to a statement from the Indian Embassy in Bhutan on Tuesday.

“This is a practical manifestation of the uniquely close and friendly ties between India and Bhutan,” the statement added. 

The Indian capital of Delhi has reported severe shortages in oxygen over the last week and the Indian government has taken a number of measures to augment the country’s oxygen supply, including importing it from countries like France which is also acting under the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism.