April 28 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Jessie Yeung, Brett McKeehan, Kara Fox, Melissa Mahtani and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 0408 GMT (1208 HKT) April 29, 2021
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7:03 p.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Young people should get vaccinated to avoid becoming Covid-19 long haulers, NIH director says

Fom CNN’s Ryan Prior

Young people should get vaccinated to avoid the long-term consequences of Covid-19, the director of the National Institutes of Health said Wednesday.

“One critical way to prevent long Covid is to prevent Covid itself,” NIH director Dr. Francis Collins said at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing. “Even for young people who consider their risk of severe Covid to be low, the long-term consequences can be quite serious. So long Covid represents one more reason to encourage everyone age 16 and over to get vaccinated as quickly as possible.”

Long-lasting symptoms can develop in people who have even mild cases of Covid-19.

A study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last summer showed that among 18- to 34-year-olds, 1 in 5 who tested positive for Covid-19 had not fully recovered within three weeks.

About 11-15% of children infected with Covid-19 can go on to develop long Covid, Collins added.

The risks of developing a long-term illness in the wake of Covid-19 infection “haven’t been appreciated by young people who continue to view this as an illness they don’t have to worry about too much,” Collins said.

5:52 p.m. ET, April 28, 2021

NIH director touts "unprecedented" effort to research Covid-19 long haulers

From CNN's Ryan Prior

Dr. Francis Collins.
Dr. Francis Collins. Source: House Committee on Energy and Commerce

The National Institutes of Health is moving at an “unprecedented” speed to help Covid-19 long haulers, some of whom have been sick more than a year, the agency’s director, Dr. Francis Collins, said Wednesday at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing.

He explained that the NIH is ramping up research into the long Covid population via what he calls an “unprecedented meta cohort” based on existing community-based patient groups, electronic health records from large health care systems and leaning on participation from patient-led collaborations for long Covid research. 

The NIH also expects to continue following patients who were part of clinical trials during their acute phase of Covid-19 to see if they develop long Covid. The “meta cohort” idea means collecting data from every source possible so that researchers can learn as quickly as possible. 

Prospective studies will also follow patients for up to two years following Covid-19 diagnosis, according to Dr. John Brooks, chief medical officer for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who also testified during the hearing.

Collins sought to assure patients that these efforts weren’t just data collection but could help fast track treatments.

Some of those treatments for long Covid might eventually include anticoagulants for patients whose symptoms are driven by small blood clots as well as steroids or immunosuppressants for those exhibiting characteristics of autoimmune diseases, Collins explained. He also expressed hope that intravenous immunoglobulin could help some patients. 

Collins also noted that the NIH is “all over” reports that some long haulers have recovered after being vaccinated with Covid-19 vaccines.

The hearing comes after Congress allocated $1.15 billion to NIH in December for ongoing research over the next four years into the long-term health effects of the novel coronavirus.

After issuing a call for research for proposals for its first set of studies in February, the agency expects to announce initial grant awards in the next few weeks.

4:31 p.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Maryland governor lifts outdoor mask mandate and restrictions for outdoor dining

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan talks to reporters at the governor's residence on the last day of the state's legislative session on Monday, April 12, in Annapolis.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan talks to reporters at the governor's residence on the last day of the state's legislative session on Monday, April 12, in Annapolis. Brian Witte/AP

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said that effective immediately, the state is lifting its outdoor mask mandate.

In line with new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory guidance, masks and face-coverings will no longer be required outdoors, Hogan said.

Additionally, Hogan announced that effective May 1, all restrictions for outdoor dining will be lifted. Standing service will be allowed to resume outdoors at bars and restaurants and all restrictions related to outdoor dining capacity and distancing will be lifted as well.

Hogan said for the time being, until more people are vaccinated, seated service and physical distancing requirements will remain in place indoors at bars and restaurants in the state.

“As the weather gets warmer, we’re encouraging Marylanders to move as much of their activity as possible to outdoors. As our vaccinations continue to expand and our health metrics continue to improve, we expect to be able to take additional actions in the weeks ahead, and to return to a sense of normalcy,” the governor said.

4:10 p.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Nearly 30% of the US population is fully vaccinated, CDC data shows

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

Nearly 235 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States, according to data published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The CDC reported that 234,639,414 total doses have been administered, about 78% of the 301,857,885 total doses delivered. 

That’s about 2.2 million more doses reported administered since Tuesday, for a seven-day average of about 2.7 million doses per day. 

About 43% of the population – nearly 143 million people – have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 29.5% of the population – more than 98 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.

4:10 p.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Atlanta's professional sports teams will expand to full capacity starting May 7

From CNN's Homero DeLaFuente

Atlanta Braves fans look on while players warm up prior to an MLB game between the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on April 15, in Atlanta. 
Atlanta Braves fans look on while players warm up prior to an MLB game between the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on April 15, in Atlanta.  Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Professional sports teams in Atlanta are set to host fans at 100% capacity starting on Friday, May 7. 

Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves announced the news on Wednesday, saying all modified health and safety measures at Truist Park will remain in place. 

“We have had great success welcoming our fans back safely to Truist Park,” said Derek Schiller, the president and CEO of the Atlanta Braves. “Our outdoor environment, the demand from our season ticket holders and fans to watch us play in person plus safety measures which are in place make it feel that now is the right time to get back to full capacity at Truist Park.”

Mercedes Benz Stadium, home of the MLS’s Atlanta United and the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, will also return to full capacity

“We are excited to bring our fans back to Mercedes-Benz Stadium,” says Steve Cannon, CEO, AMB Sports and Entertainment. “Given the increased opportunity for Georgians to be vaccinated, the abundant health protocols we have in place at the stadium and the interest from our season ticket members, we felt that now is the right time to re-open the stadium in full capacity allowing all our season ticket members a chance to enjoy watching their teams in person. We will continue to follow the necessary precautions to give fans a safe and clean environment.”

Atlanta United next play at home against the CF Montreal on May 15.  

Both teams cited the increased access to Covid-19 vaccines as the reason behind the decision. All teams will still require fans to wear face coverings, unless actively eating or drinking while also enhancing the sanitation efforts throughout both stadiums.  

4:06 p.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Italy will ban entry to travelers from Bangladesh 

From CNN's Livia Borghese

Italy will ban travelers from Bangladesh, the Italian health ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

The statement said the travel ban would prevent anyone that has stayed in or transitioned through Bangladesh in the past 14 days from entering Italy.

The statement added that due to the worsening coronavirus situation in Bangladesh and India, stricter quarantine measures for people who live in Italy will be imposed, however it did not clarify details.

Some more context: India has now become home to the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak and fears of its spread across the region have prompted some countries in Europe to impose travel restrictions.

On Sunday, the Italian Health Ministry announced a similar travel ban for travelers returning from India.  On Monday, two cases of the Indian variant were detected in Italy in a father and daughter that recently returned from India, Luca Zaia a regional governor said.

4:11 p.m. ET, April 28, 2021

COVAX scheme is "destined to fail," says the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town 

From CNN’s Emmet Lyons and Henry Hullah

A shipment of Covid-19 vaccines through the COVAX global vaccination program is seen at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana, on February 24.
A shipment of Covid-19 vaccines through the COVAX global vaccination program is seen at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana, on February 24. Nipah Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

The COVAX scheme is “destined to fail,” according to the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa.

In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday, Archbishop Thabo Makgabo was heavily critical of the program aimed at helping developing countries get vaccine access and said it was unambitious in its goals and hindered by rich countries hoarding doses. 

“If one looks at the COVAX system and its intention, it’s supposed to help the global south and the poorest of the poor countries to vaccinate only 3% – it is destined to fail,” he said.

COVAX is an entity run by a coalition that includes the Vaccine Alliance known as Gavi and the World Health Organization, and is funded by donations from governments, multilateral institutions and foundations. Its mission is to buy coronavirus vaccines in bulk and send them to poorer nations that can't compete with wealthy countries in securing contracts with the major drug companies. 

WHO officials have said they expect COVAX will help just 3.3% of the populations of low-income countries be vaccinated by the end of June. Gavi itself forecasts vaccines distributed through COVAX will reach 27% of the populations of lower-income countries this year.

“I've seen people die without saying goodbye to their families. If one looks at the scourge in India… one is anxious that should we have that magnitude in the [African] continent, the continent will be wiped off the face of this Earth whilst others are hoarding. This is not a moral issue only but it is an issue of greed and an issue that the world should really speak up and stand up against such behavior in the face of death,” the Archbishop said. 

Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, who was also on the program, told Amanpour there have been export bans and there has not been sharing of doses “which has been a real challenge”.

“COVAX has been able to procure over two billion doses which will be available by the end of 2021. That should cover 30% of the population but they are not here today,” Berkley said.

“At the same time, wealthy countries bought more than a billion and a half doses beyond the amount they need to cover their citizens because they didn't know which vaccines would work. So what we're asking is right now at this critical time, they share those doses so we can make sure that, at least, the healthcare workers and the highest risk groups get served everywhere in the world because we're only safe if everybody is safe and that's the reality of this pandemic.” 

On Tuesday, the Archbishop was one of 145 religious leaders who signed a letter calling on countries and pharmaceutical companies to provide enough vaccines to immunize the entire global population.

He told Amanpour that he hopes that message reaches G7 leaders and called on those leaders, and Canada in particular, to end vaccine nationalism: “We are only safe if everyone is safe… I was pained that Canada also used the COVAX …to buy so many vaccines.

“G7 leaders, please examine your conscience... think about life rather than profits,” he added.

 Berkley responded to the Archbishop’s comments on Canada, saying: “The way COVAX was set up was to try to avoid these bilateral deals and have global solidarity and equitable access. We invited all countries to join… we have a large number of doses as I've mentioned for the second half of the year but obviously we have to oblige the people who have put money on the table to buy doses and we keep our promises.”

3:25 p.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Economy will fully recover when pandemic is over, Fed chair says 

From CNN’s David Goldman

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. Source: Federal Reserve

Think the economy has recovered from the pandemic? Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has some news for you: It's not going to be back for quite some time — not until the pandemic is over.

"The economy can't fully recover until people are confident it's safe to resume activities involving crowds of people," Powell said at a press conference Wednesday.

"There may be people around the edge of the labor force that won't come back in unless they feel comfortable in going back to their old jobs. There will be parts of the economy that just won't be able to fully reengage until the pandemic is decisively behind us," he added.

Some context: US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said on Tuesday that there the new CDC guidance that says fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks during outdoor activities is just a start – there is hope that people will be able to take off their masks indoors someday, too.

“What we're going to see as more and more people get vaccinated, is that we're going to be able to open up, including indoors, down the line,” Murthy told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

Some states are also loosening restrictions on businesses and offices and increasing capacity.

2:53 p.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Fed leaves rates near zero as US states start to roll back Covid-19 restrictions

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

The Federal Reserve said Wednesday the US economy is growing stronger, but it left interest rates unchanged near zero.

Interest rates will stay the range of zero to a quarter of a percent until the Fed's goal of maximum employment and inflation of about 2% over the longer term.

To ensure the economy stays on track, the central bank will continue with its monthly asset purchases, consisting of at least $80 billion in Treasury securities and $40 billion mortgage-backed securities. 

Even though investors are growing nervous that the reopening of the economy could lead to a sudden spike in inflation that could force the Fed to raise rates sooner, the central bank has been steady in its view that rate increases wouldn't happen anytime soon.

The Fed said it is "prepared to adjust the stance of monetary policy as appropriate if risks emerge."