By MORGAN WINSOR, ERIN SCHUMAKER, EMILY SHAPIRO, IVAN PEREIRA, MEREDITH DELISO and JULIA JACOBO, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 102.5 million people worldwide and killed over 2.2 million of them, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
Here’s how the news developed over the weekend. All times Eastern:
Jan 31, 11:42 pm
First active FDNY firefighter dies from COVID-19
The New York City Fire Department announced Sunday that 61-year-old Joseph Ferrugia is its first active firefighter to have died of COVID-19.
He is the 13th member of the FDNY to die of coronavirus.
“This horrific illness has taken far too many lives, and now it has killed a man who bravely served New Yorkers for three decades,” Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said in a statement Sunday. “He ran toward danger his entire career, searching for those trapped by flames and doing all he could to save them. Our entire Department mourns his loss.”
Ferrugia joined FDNY in 1990 and was a World Trade Center first responder, the department said.
FDNY said he is survived by his three adult children and three siblings.
Jan 31, 7:39 pm
Chicago pushes back return to in-person classes following impasse with union
Chicago Public Schools pushed back the return of in-person classes for kindergarten through eighth-grade students by one day as negotiations continue between the city and the Chicago Teachers Union.
While the district and union leadership agree on some items of contention in principle, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at a press conference Sunday that the union has refused to put those agreements in writing and instead has added more items to the negotiating table that are not related to the public safety issues associated to reopening some classrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just minutes before Lightfoot was expected to appear in a presser Sunday, CTU sent a series of tweets that hinted there was not going to be a deal just yet.
The mayor said she still expects CPS teachers to show up to their classrooms despite the dispute. Last week she said that if they do not, she would be forced to take further action, but did not specify what that action would be.
Jan 31, 3:58 pm
Nearly 50M COVID vaccine doses distributed: CDC
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its latest update Sunday on the country’s coronavirus vaccine rollout.
There have been close to 50 million doses distributed around the country, according to the agency’s online tracker. Of those doses, 31 million, roughly 62%, have been administered, according to the CDC.
About 25 million people have received their first dose and 5.6 million have received two doses, the CDC said.
Jan 31, 12:27 pm
Florida city holds Mardi Gras parade despite rise in cases
A city on Florida’s panhandle put on its Mardi Gras parade as planned, despite its high positivity rate.
Prior to the parade on Saturday, Milton Mayor Heather Lindsay advised residents to take their temperature before attending the event and for everyone who attends the party after the parade and participates in the kid’s zone to wear a mask.
“I would love to focus only on the fun and pageantry of it all because I love Mardi Gras, but we must accept life on life’s terms,” Lindsay wrote. “Presently we are in the midst of a widespread outbreak of a virus that is not just the flu.”
The city currently has a positivity rate of 18%, “well above” the state average of 6.62%, Lindsay wrote. Households affected in Milton reduced from a high of 102 to 90 this week, but the local positivity rate has been as high as 28% and “never lower” than 16%, she added. The population in Milton is about 10,000.
It is unclear how many people attended the event.
Jan 31, 12:00 pm
Winter storm to delay vaccine appointments in New York City
Vaccine appointments in New York City will be rescheduled due to a major winter storm heading toward the East Coast.
The nor’easter is expected to begin Sunday night and could dump up to a foot of snow onto the city.
“Last thing we want to do is to urge our seniors to come out in the middle of a storm like this,” NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference Sunday morning. “It doesn’t make sense.”
-ABC News’ Joshua Hoyos
Jan 31, 10:18 am
Vaccine distribution has been ‘seamless’ under Biden: Gov. Asa Hutchinson
Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Sunday that vaccine distribution has been “seamless” under the Biden administration.
“In terms of the vaccine distribution, it’s been seamless. And I was delighted that we had a … 14% increase in vaccine supply last week. This is going to be very, very important for us. They said they’re going to invoke the Defense Production Act. I don’t know the details on that, but anything they can do to speed up the production,” Hutchinson said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“Thank goodness we have that partnership which is good with the federal government. And President Biden and his team is — is working to assure that partnership and not tear it apart, which I’m very grateful for,” he told “This Week” Co-anchor Martha Raddatz.
-ABC News’ Jack Arnholz
Jan 30, 9:41 pm
Boston Marathon director tapped for Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium mass vaccination sites
Dave McGillivray, the race director of the Boston Marathon, has been selected by the state of Massachusetts to run the mass vaccination operations at Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park.
McGillivray owns DMSE Sports, which organizes and manages dozens of outdoor events every year. To help keep DMSE Sports afloat, McGillivray connected with CIC Health — which operates the mass COVID-19 vaccination sites at Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium — through the state of Massachusetts.
Now, McGillivray is running logistics for both sites.
“For me, the feeling is so good that the thing that knocked us to our knees is now the thing that is allowing us to do good: that we’re keeping people healthy, we’re saving lives and we’re even bringing our own industry back,” McGillivray said in an interview with Boston ABC affiliate WCVB().
Fenway Park is the home of the Boston Red Sox, while Gillette Stadium, located in Foxborough, is the home stadium for the New England Patriots. The Gillette Stadium site opened two weeks ago, with Fenway officially opening Monday. Both sites are expected to administer 5,000 doses per day once fully up and running.
The Boston Marathon, usually held in April, has been postponed to October. The in-person event was canceled in 2020, though it was held virtually.
ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos contributed to this report.
Jan 30, 3:15 pm
Pentagon ‘pausing’ plan to vaccinate Guantanamo Bay detainees
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs John Kirby tweeted that the Pentagon is “pausing” the plan to move forward with vaccinations for detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
“We’re pausing the plan to move forward, as we review force protection protocols,” Kirby said. “We remain committed to our obligations to keep our troops safe.”
No detainees have been vaccinated yet, he said.
ABC News’ Molly Nagle contributed to this report.
Jan 30, 2:26 pm
California surpasses 40,000 deaths
Hard-hit California has surpassed 40,000 deaths from COVID-19, according to the state’s Department of Public Health.
At least 40,216 people in the Golden State have lost their lives, which equals about 1 in every 1,000 Californians.
ABC News’ Matt Fuhrman contributed to this report.
Jan 30, 2:12 pm
Nashville’s Music City Center opens as mass vaccination site
Nashville’s Music City Center opened Saturday as a mass vaccination site.
Those 75 and older who already have an appointment booked can get vaccinated at the concert venue, according to ABC Nashville affiliate WKRN.
“We think that we’ll be able to do up to 1,000 first doses here and up to 1,000 second doses here a day, once we receive enough vaccine for that,” Metro Nashville Health Department Interim Medical Director Gill Wright told WKRN.
Jan 30, 12:43 pm
South African variant found in Maryland
One case of the South African B.1.351 variant has been confirmed in the Baltimore metro region, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said.
“The individual has not traveled internationally, making community transmission likely,” Hogan’s office said. “Comprehensive contact tracing efforts are underway to ensure that potential contacts are quickly identified, quarantined, and tested.
“The B.1.351 variant has not been shown to cause more severe illness or increased risk of death when compared to other variants. The variant is believed to be more transmissible than other strains,” Hogan’s office said. “Additional research is still required to determine the effectiveness of available vaccines against the B.1.351 variant. However, initial evidence suggests that vaccines are still likely to be protective against the variant.”
The United States’ first cases of the South African variant were confirmed this week in two people in South Carolina.
Jan 30, 11:23 am
South Carolina confirms its 1st case of UK variant
An adult in South Carolina’s Lowcountry region has become the state’s first confirmed case of the United Kingdom COVID-19 variant, South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control said.
The person “has an international travel history,” the department said.
The U.S. has confirmed at least 434 cases of the B.1.1.7 U.K. variant across 30 states, South Carolina officials said.
“Experts agree that existing vaccines work to protect us from this variant, even if we don’t know just how effective they are,” the South Carolina officials said. “At this time, there’s no conclusive evidence to prove that the B.1.1.7 variant causes more severe illness.”
ABC News’ Josh Hoyos contributed to this report.
Jan 30, 9:21 am
Coachella, Stagecoach canceled
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts and Stagecoach Country Music festivals, set for April, were canceled on Friday by Dr. Cameron Kaiser, health officer for Riverside County, California.
Riverside County’s positivity rate stands at 20%. The county has 0% bed availability in its intensive care units.
Jan 30, 6:30 am
US surpasses 90,000 deaths in January
January has been the deadliest month since the pandemic began, with 90,844 total deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. coronavirus death toll stands at 436,810 — with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention projecting that more than 77,000 deaths could be reported by Feb. 20.
Jan 30, 4:50 am
Brazil variant detected in California
California is now the second U.S. state with known detection of the Brazil P.1 variant.
Minnesota health officials confirmed earlier this week the nation’s first known COVID-19 case associated with the variant.
Inside Stanford’s Clinical Virology Laboratory, Dr. Benjamin Pinsky and his team found two strains of the virus: the Brazil strain and the U.K. strain, KGO-TV reported Saturday morning.
“It’s in about 17% of the samples that we’ve sequenced,” Pinsky told KGO.
Jan 30, 12:44 am
CDC issues federal transportation mask mandate starting February
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a federal transportation mask mandate Friday night which will be effective starting Feb. 1.
The mandate states that people traveling within or out of the United States must wear face masks while on conveyances and at transportation hubs to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
This includes airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis and ride-shares, as well as subway stations, airports and other transportation hubs.
Drivers, conductors, and other workers involved in the operation of conveyances must also wear masks at all times, the CDC says.
“Conveyance operators must also require all persons onboard to wear masks when boarding, disembarking, and for the duration of travel,” the mandate states. “Operators of transportation hubs must require all persons to wear a mask when entering or on the premises of a transportation hub.”
Jan 29, 7:15 pm
More cases in past 2 weeks than 1st 6 months of pandemic: WHO
There have been more COVID-19 cases reported globally in the past two weeks than during the first six months of the pandemic, according to the World Health Organization.
Almost exactly a year ago, there were fewer than 100 confirmed cases of the virus outside of China, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted during a media briefing Friday. This week, the number of reported cases globally surpassed 100 million.
“Now, vaccines are giving us another window of opportunity to bring the pandemic under control. We must not squander it,” Tedros said.
At the same time, Tedros warned that vaccine hoarding will be a “catastrophic moral failing” that will ultimately “keep the pandemic burning” and hinder economic recovery.
His comments come after the European Union publicly fought with AstraZeneca this week over how many doses it can expect of the drugmaker’s COVID-19 vaccine. After regulators approved the vaccine Friday, the EU enacted an export restriction on doses produced in the bloc. WHO officials called the move “concerning” and part of a “worrying trend.”
“Vaccine nationalism might serve short-term political goals, but it’s ultimately short-sighted and self-defeating. We will not end the pandemic anywhere until we end it everywhere,” Tedros said. “My message to governments is to vaccinate your health workers and older people, and share excess doses with COVAX, so other countries can do the same.”
ABC News’ Kirit Radia contributed to this report.
Jan 29, 4:19 pm
CDC extends moratorium on evictions through March
The CDC is extending its moratorium on housing evictions through March 31, citing the health threat it poses.
The order had been set to expire on Jan. 31.
Bluu Davis speaks outside of City Hall about being served an eviction notice as she joins the Me…Read More
“Keeping people in their homes and out of congregate settings — like shelters — is a key step in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19,” the CDC said in a statement.
ABC News’ Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.
Jan 29, 1:26 pm
Fauci: UK variant will likely become ‘dominant’ in US
At Friday’s White House press briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the United Kingdom variant will likely become more “dominant” in the U.S. toward the end of March or early April.
There are 379 confirmed cases across 29 states of the B117 strain of the coronavirus, according to CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
Fauci indicated that the evolving nature of the virus is something the medical community will have to continue dealing with going forward.
“Even though the long-range effect in the sense of severe disease is still handled reasonably well by the vaccines, this is a wake-up call to all of us, that we will be dealing, as the virus uses its devices to evade pressure, particularly immunological pressure, that we will continue to see the evolution of mutants,” he said.
Fauci also indicated that the fight to contain the new variants will impact the vaccine response.
“We, as a government, the companies, all of us that are in this together, will have to be nimble to be able to just adjust readily to make versions of the vaccine that actually are specifically directed towards whatever mutation is actually prevalent at any given time,” he said.
Jan 29, 11:59 am
Limited indoor dining can resume in NYC on Valentine’s Day
Indoor dining will return to New York City on Valentine’s Day at 25% capacity, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.
Indoor dining was shut down in New York City in December.
On March 15, in-person weddings can resume in New York at 50% capacity, or up to 150 people, he said.
Jan 29, 11:00 am
US numbers still high but trends are encouraging: CDC experts
Dr. Jay Butler, Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the U.S. has seen a decline in the last two weeks of new cases and hospitalizations, which is “encouraging,” but he added, “the numbers nationally are still high.”
“The pandemic is not yet over yet,” Butler told the Infectious Diseases Society of America on Friday. “By the time we end our 45 minutes together, roughly 100 more Americans will have died of COVID-19.”
Butler stressed that the vaccines are safe and effective and that mild side effects are normal.
“The available data tells us that more than half of people have reported some degree of tiredness and pain at the injection site, although most are able to continue normal daily activities,” Butler said. “Many also report symptoms such as headache muscle pain or chills after getting their shots, particularly in the first couple of days. These data also suggest that it may be more common among younger persons, and after the second dose, but again this is expected based on some of the data that were available from the clinical trials.”
Jan 29, 10:47 am
EU approves AstraZeneca
AstraZeneca’s vaccine on Friday was recommended for conditional marketing authorization in the European Union for people 18 and older. The two doses should be administered four to 12 weeks apart.
This is the third vaccine, following Pfizer and Moderna, to be approved by the European Medicines Agency. The AstraZeneca vaccine now awaits final say from the European Commission.
Jan 29, 8:43 am
J&J single-shot vaccine 85% effective against severe COVID-19 disease
In another promising development for vaccine science, Johnson & Johnson announced Friday that its COVID-19 vaccine — a single shot tested against a complex barrage of newly emerged variants of the virus — is 66% effective at preventing symptomatic disease and 85% effective against preventing severe illness.
The U.S. pharmaceutical giant said the vaccine is also safe to take. Volunteers experienced mild reactions after the shot, with less than 10% experiencing fever, according to a company press release.
The full data package will be made publicly available and will be evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration’s advisory committee sometime in mid- to late February.
The FDA has said it will consider a vaccine that’s more than 50% effective, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine exceeds this threshold. An emergency use authorization could be given and people could start receiving shots before the end of February.
Jan 29, 8:26 am
‘We should be treating every infection as if it’s a variant,’ CDC director says
Americans should now assume there’s already more contagious variants of the novel coronavirus circulating in their communities, according to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I think we should be treating every infection as if it’s a variant,” Walensky told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Friday on Good Morning America.
“That is the way we’re going to control this pandemic,” she added. “Quite honestly, we know that these viruses are going to mutate. They generally mutate to the advantage of the virus and that’s how we get these more dominant strains.”
Walensky’s remarks come a day after the United States confirmed its first cases of the B1351 variant, which was first identified in South Africa and has since spread to dozens of other countries.
“We had always been worried that they were here and we hadn’t yet detected them,” she said.
The B1351 variant was discovered in two people in South Carolina who were not in contact with one another and haven’t traveled recently, which concerns Walensky.
“So the presumption is here that they became infected from other people in the community and that there’s community spread of this variant,” she said.
Walensky explained that it “takes a while” for scientists to detect a variant.
“From the time of symptoms to somebody getting a test to that test being positive and to us being able to sequence it, that turnaround time could be up to 10 to 14 days,” she said.
Although the CDC has “done an enormous amount of scaling up of our surveillance of these variants,” Walensky said researchers are essentially starting from the ground up because “there has not been a public health infrastructure to track these variants.”
“There has not been money, resources to be able to do mass sequencing at the level of infection that we have in this country right now,” she said. “That is part of the American Rescue Plan, is to be able to use resources to finance a mass scale-up of surveillance for these variants.”
There are concerns that the variants wield increased transmissibility and mortality, or that existing treatments and vaccines won’t work as well against them.
“The current vaccines we’re still studying against these variants,” Walensky said. “What I will say though is we have a 95% efficacious vaccine against the current strain. Even if we have some diminution of that efficacy against the South Africa strain, I still think we need to really go ahead, push the vaccination, because this just is still yet another tool in our toolbox to fight this pandemic.”
Jan 29, 7:24 am
Russia says it can supply Europe with 100 million doses of its vaccine
Russia said Friday it will be ready to supply Europe with enough doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, for 50 million people in the second quarter of this year.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which is responsible for worldwide marketing of the vaccine, announced via Twitter that 100 million doses can be provided to the European Union — pending regulatory approval — once most of Russia’s population has been vaccinated.
After being developed by the state-run Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, Sputnik V was controversially registered by the health ministry in August before starting crucial Phase 3 trials, with Russia declaring itself the first in the world to register a COVID-19 vaccine.
The RDIF said the vaccine is now registered in 15 countries and that documents have been submitted to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for “rolling review,” which would mean that the drug regulator is reviewing clinical trial data on a rolling basis. However, last week, the EMA said in a statement that “currently Sputnik V is not undergoing a rolling review.”
Jan 29, 6:25 am
Mexico overtakes India for third-highest COVID-19 death toll
Mexico now has the third-highest death toll from COVID-19 in the world.
According to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, Mexico has registered 155,145 fatalities from the disease since the pandemic began, overtaking India’s count of 154,010 deaths.
Mexico, a country of 127 million people, has confirmed more than 1.8 million cases of COVID-19. Whereas India, home to some 1.3 billion, has confirmed over 10.7 million cases, the second-most in the world, according to Johns Hopkins data.
Jan 29, 3:49 am
US reports over 164,000 new cases
There were 164,665 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Thursday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
Thursday’s case count is far less than the country’s all-time high of 300,282 newly confirmed infections on Jan. 2, Johns Hopkins data shows.
An additional 3,872 fatalities from COVID-19 were registered nationwide on Thursday, down from a peak of 4,466 new deaths on Jan. 12, according to Johns Hopkins data.
COVID-19 data may be skewed due to possible lags in reporting over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend.
A total of 25,766,735 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 433,195 have died, according to Johns Hopkins data. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.
Much of the country was under lockdown by the end of March as the first wave of the pandemic hit. By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up over the summer.
The numbers lingered around 40,000 to 50,000 from mid-August through early October before surging again to record levels, crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4, then reaching 200,000 on Nov. 27 before topping 300,000 on Jan. 2.
So far, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized two COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use — one developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, and another developed by American biotechnology company Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. More than 24 million vaccine doses have been administered nationwide, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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