Vaccinated Americans don't need a mask most of the time, CDC says

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 0225 GMT (1025 HKT) May 14, 2021
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1:27 p.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Racial and ethnic disparities in Covid-19 vaccination persist, CDC data shows

From CNN’s Deidre McPhillips

A healthcare worker prepares a syringe with a vial of the J&J/Janssen Covid-19 vaccine at a temporary vaccination site at Grand Central Terminal train station on May 12 in New York City.
A healthcare worker prepares a syringe with a vial of the J&J/Janssen Covid-19 vaccine at a temporary vaccination site at Grand Central Terminal train station on May 12 in New York City. Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

Black, Hispanic and Asian people are still not getting vaccinated at the same rates as White people, data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows. 

CDC data shows these groups represent a smaller share of people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 than their share of the US population overall.

Black people account for 8.5% of those fully vaccinated, but 12.4% of the total US population, and Hispanic people represent 11% of those fully vaccinated, although they make up 17% of the US population. The gap among Asian people is smaller, accounting for 5.3% of those fully vaccinated compared to 5.8% of the population. 

But non-Hispanic White people are notably overrepresented among those fully vaccinated. White people make up 61.2% of the US population, but 65.8% of those fully vaccinated. American Indian and Alaska Native people are also slightly overrepresented among those fully vaccinated, CDC data shows. 

This data is notably incomplete – race and ethnicity is known for less than two-thirds of people who are fully vaccinated – but the disparities have persisted. 

A month ago, vaccination coverage among White people was more than double that among Hispanic people and more than 75% higher than among Black people. That gap has started to close, but as of Wednesday, CDC data shows that the share of White people who are fully vaccinated is still about 66% higher than the share of Hispanic people who are fully vaccinated and 56% higher than the share of Black people who are fully vaccinated. 

Over the past two weeks, Hispanic people have been overrepresented in the share of people initiating vaccination, helping to close that gap. But Black people remain underrepresented, accounting for only about one in 10 people getting a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine. 

12:55 p.m. ET, May 13, 2021

California governor announces $4 billion for small businesses as part of economic recovery plan

From CNN's Stella Chan

California Gov. Gavin Newsom holds a news conference on May 11 in Los Angeles.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom holds a news conference on May 11 in Los Angeles. Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

California Gov. Gavin Newsom will set aside $4 billion “the largest small business grant program in the country,” part of his pandemic recovery spending plan, he announced Thursday morning.

Newsom said the $4 billion infusion will include $1.5 billion in Covid-19 relief grants under his “California Comeback Plan,” allowing the Golden State to come “roaring back.”

“California is enjoying a $75.7 billion operation surplus,” he said during a virtual California Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Sacramento. “It’s never been stated or said by any governor in American history, let alone California,” boasting about the money that will go toward the state’s recovery.

The surplus, along with federal government money, will provide an opportunity to reimagine and reinvigorate the economy and get people back on their feet, he said optimistically. 

“It’s the resilience of our small business men and women, those that put everything out on the line, make a go of it, that create jobs and are the real economic engine of the prosperity that we are now enjoying in this state,” Newsom said.  

The money will go to current and new small business grant programs, ports, tax credit enhancements, including for the film industry.

“It’s the entrepreneurial spirit that makes this state great,” Newsom said, fondly remembering that his own small business venture led him to politics. 

The latest numbers: The state's low Covid-19 positivity rate and its high vaccination rates are a sign that the state is on its way to a June 15 reopening, the governor said. His weeklong rollout of the spending plan includes monies focused on homelessness, drought response, public education, and stimulus checks for residents.

“We talk about a light at the end of the tunnel, I don’t see light at the end of the tunnel, I see bright light at the end of the tunnel. California is coming roaring back,” he said.

11:06 a.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Most children with Covid-19 don’t show typical symptoms, research finds

From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Most children infected with Covid-19 do not show typical symptoms, which means it may be difficult to find and diagnose them, researchers reported Thursday. 

A team at the University of Alabama at Birmingham examined data from 12,306 children in the US with lab-confirmed cases of Covid-19 and found few had typical symptoms.

The team reported that 18.8% of the children exhibited non-specific symptoms, like fever and disturbances in their sense of taste or smell. Just 16.5% of the children exhibited respiratory symptoms, such as cough; 14% showed gastrointestinal symptoms, like nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain; 8% had rashes or other skin symptoms and 4.8% had headache or other neurological symptoms. 

About 5.3% of the patients were hospitalized. Among those hospitalized, 17.6% needed critical care services and 4.1% needed mechanical ventilation, the team reported in the Nature journal Scientific Reports.

“Overall, our findings suggest that children and adolescents may have a milder course of illness compared with adults with COVID-19,” they wrote.

“Given the high prevalence of non-specific signs and symptoms and the fact that the majority of the patients lacked typical symptoms in our investigation, increased vigilance, innovative screening, and frequent testing is required among school-going children and their immediate contacts," the report added.

The team noted that the risk of hospitalization was higher among Black and Hispanic children than among White children. These racial disparities have been widely observed among adults and children during the coronavirus pandemic.

While children don’t appear to get as sick from Covid-19 as adults, the researchers said that understanding the symptoms – or lack of symptoms – that children experience when they are infected will help physicians provide appropriate treatment. 

10:38 a.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Biden administration will invest $7.4 billion to hire and train public health workers for pandemic response

From CNN's Kate Sullivan and Betsy Klein

The Biden administration will invest $7.4 billion to recruit and hire public health workers to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and prepare for future public health challenges, the White House announced Thursday.

The funding includes $4.4 billion to expand public health staffing for the Covid-19 response and support vaccination outreach, contact tracing and outbreak investigations.

It will also invest $3 billion to prepare for future pandemics and create a new program to modernize the public health workforce.

The funds, allocated from the American Rescue Plan, will support the hiring of additional school nurses to help schools reopen safely following the authorization of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for adolescents ages 12-15.

"The funding announced today will allow the United States to expand its public health workforce, creating tens of thousands of jobs to support vaccinations, testing, contact tracing, and community outreach, and strengthen America's future public health infrastructure," the White House said in a fact sheet.

The announcement comes as more than 117.6 million people are fully vaccinated, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and as the Biden administration races to get the remaining portion of the population their shots.

Nearly 59% of adults in America have had at least one Covid-19 vaccination, but some Americans are still hesitant about, or resistant to, getting the shot.

The US Food and Drug Administration's authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents makes another 5% of the American population eligible for vaccines.

The administration is also looking toward the future and will use part of the funds announced on Thursday to launch the Public Health AmeriCorps to recruit and build out a new workforce to respond to the country's future public health needs.

The CDC will increase funding for programs like the Epidemic Intelligence Service, a public health workforce that responds to local outbreaks, the Undergraduate Public Health Scholars Program and a fellowship that offers students from underrepresented backgrounds the opportunity to study infectious diseases and health disparities.

The federal health agency will use the funds to expand existing public health laboratory fellowship programs for laboratory science graduates and also implement a new public health internship program to allow undergraduate students to gain experience in public health laboratory settings.

The CDC will also create a new grant program to provide health departments that do not have sufficient resources with support so they can hire staff and allow those who were hired for the Covid-19 pandemic to continue their careers as public health professionals.

Key public health leaders, including former CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden, have said that it is imperative the US and other nations invest in public health infrastructure.

"The sad truth is that pandemics even deadlier than Covid could happen at any point in the future. Failure is an option, but success is possible. We must work together as a world and invest the financial and political capital, supported by technical expertise and effective global, regional, and national institutions, to make sure we are never again caught so unprepared," Frieden said in a recent op-ed.

10:40 a.m. ET, May 13, 2021

President of second largest US teachers' union will call for schools to be open 5 days a week in-person

From CNN's Elizabeth Stuart and Meridith Edwards

Students attend in-person class at a school in Los Angeles, California, on April 13.
Students attend in-person class at a school in Los Angeles, California, on April 13. Xinhua/Getty Images

The president of the second largest teachers' union in the US will call for schools to reopen for in-person instruction five days a week, according to prepared remarks for an event on Thursday. 

"There is no doubt: Schools must be open. In person. Five days a week," Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, plans to say.

CNN obtained an advance copy of Weingarten's speech from AFT spokesperson Meghan Dooley, which was first reported by the New York Times.

Weingarten will be giving a virtual address Thursday outlining what is being described as her vision for public education as more schools reopen after a school year of closures, remote and hybrid learning.

"It's not risk-free," Weingarten will say, and is expected to discuss the various mitigation strategies being taken in school districts across the country to reduce possible transmission and spread of Covid-19 in schools.

Her remarks will come at a time when more US school districts are reopening for full, in-person learning, but not all students are attending. 

More than half of the nation's K-8 public school districts are open for full in-person learning five days a week, according to the latest data from the US Department of Education. But just 44% of students in grade 4 and 33% of students in grade 8 are actually attending full time school, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress' (NAEP) latest report.

One of the hurdles many districts have faced in reopening are teachers' unions, who in some cases threatened to strike if forced to return to teaching in-person.

Weingarten says AFT will give $5 million to its effort to engage with members in a back to school campaign.

"The United States will not be fully back ... until we are full back in school. And my union is all in," Weingarten will say.

She will also address the work that lies ahead with students academically, socially and emotionally, and addressing education inequity that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

"No one has come through these trying times unscathed," Weingarten plans to say. "It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity not only to reopen and recover, but reimagine our schools in a way that every public school is a place where parents want to send their children, educators and support staff want to work and students thrive."

Weingarten's address is planned for 11 a.m. ET today.

10:46 a.m. ET, May 13, 2021

UK prime minister says government is "anxious" about variant first identified in India

From CNN's Amy Cassidy

Dan Kitwood/AFP/Getty Images
Dan Kitwood/AFP/Getty Images

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted Thursday the government is “anxious” about how the Covid-19 variant first identified in India is spreading in the UK. 

But he said he remains “cautiously optimistic” about England’s plan to lift all legal limits on social contact starting June 21, during an on camera interview while on a visit to a school in the north east of England.  

Meanwhile, the prime minister’s official spokesman said Thursday the government’s Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) will meet to discuss the variant amid growing concerns it could place the June 21 date in jeopardy. 

"Outside of India, the United Kingdom has reported the largest number of cases sequenced as B.1.617 sublineages, and recently designated B.1.617.2 as a national variant of concern,” the World Health Organization said Wednesday

“At the moment there's a very wide range of scientific opinion about what could happen, but we want to make sure that we take all the prudential, all the cautious steps now that we could take,” Johnson said. 

He added “there are meetings going on today to consider exactly what we need to do. There's a range of things that we could do, we're ruling nothing out”.

The PM promised “you'll be hearing a lot more before the end of the month, about what the world will exactly look like from June 21st”.

“But as I've said before, I am cautiously optimistic about that. And provided this Indian variant – B.1.617.2 – doesn't take off in the way that some people fear, I think certainly things could get back much, much closer to normality.”

UK government minister James Cleverly said earlier on Thursday the government is waiting to take decisions “based on the data and the evidence” provided by SAGE.

“The Prime Minister, the Health Secretary has always been clear that the easing of restrictions which allow us to get back to normality will be done at a pace and in a way which is safe, and we will always be driven by the data,” he told Sky news.

9:09 a.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Indian state to join COVAX alliance after federal government fails to provide vaccines

from CNN's Swati Gupta

The Indian state of Punjab has decided to join the COVAX facility alliance for global sourcing and procurement of vaccines due to a severe domestic shortage. 

The Punjab government announced the decision Thursday after multiple states had ordered a partial suspension of vaccine programs. 

“Reviewing the vaccination status and availability in the state, the cabinet said it was necessary to source vaccine globally. Since the COVAX facility offers the best prices, the state should make an attempt to join the same for procuring vaccines from the international markets,” read the statement issued by the chief minister’s office. 

The Indian government has exported 66.3 million vaccines to date to countries across the globe, out of which 19.8 million doses were given to the COVAX alliance, according to the Ministry of External Affairs. 

In February, the WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted, “Thanks & Prime Minister @narendramodi for supporting #VaccinEquity. Your commitment to #COVAX and sharing #COVID19 vaccine doses is helping 60+ countries start vaccinating their #healthworkers and other priority groups. I hope other countries will follow your example.”

Punjab has become the first Indian state to apply for relief under the COVAX program even as states like Maharashtra and Karnataka are scrambling to obtain vaccine doses.

11:05 a.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Ohio governor defends lottery for 5 vaccinated residents to win $1 million

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine speaks with CNN on Thursday, May 13. 
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine speaks with CNN on Thursday, May 13.  CNN

While states like New Jersey are offering free beer as an incentive to get vaccinated, five very lucky residents of Ohio can receive $1 million after getting a Covid-19 shot.

The winners of five future lotteries will each win $1 million if they're vaccinated, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Wednesday. To qualify for the drawings, Ohioans must be at least 18 years old. For 12- to17-year-olds, separate drawings will be held, and the winner of each of those will get a full-ride scholarship.

DeWine said the lottery program is targeted to people still hesitant to get vaccinated, whom he described as “the persuadables” to CNN’s John Berman.

Some critics, like Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, have derided the announcement. 

DeWine responded:

“I understand criticism, and I explained this to the people of the state of Ohio last night when I announced it. One thing I said was look, I know people are going to say ‘DeWine lost his mind. This is a waste.’ But what I think is a waste is now to have the vaccine that can save people's lives and to have someone die of the Covid because they did not get vaccinated. That is a horrible, horrible waste. That is what a waste is.” 

Watch:

10:33 a.m. ET, May 13, 2021

"If you’re vaccinated and you're outside, put aside your mask," Fauci says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

People walk along the boardwalk in Redondo Beach, California, on Tuesday, April 27.
People walk along the boardwalk in Redondo Beach, California, on Tuesday, April 27. Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CBS This Morning that people vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to wear masks outside. 

“We’ve got to make that transition,” Fauci said. “If you are vaccinated, you don’t have to wear a mask outside. It would be a very unusual situation, if you were going into a completely crowded situation where people are essentially falling all over each other, then you wear a mask. But any other time, if you’re vaccinated and you’re outside, put aside your mask. You don’t have to wear it.” 

The CDC said in updated guidance in late April that fully vaccinated people can safely unmask at small outdoor gatherings, but not in crowded settings. 

Watch: