COVID-19: January/February 2021 Round-up

Here’s a recap of the some of the major COVID-19 stories that happened in the months of January/February 2021.

January was the Deadliest Month of the Pandemic

More than 95,000 people died from COVID-19 in the month of January – making it the deadliest month since the pandemic started. However, on a positive note, hospitalizations are the lowest they’ve been in over two months, with less than 100,000 Americans currently hospitalized with the virus.

Fauci Feels US Needs to Put Politics Aside When it Comes to COVID

Dr. Anthony Fauci doesn’t feel there should be a politics and public health should go hand-in-hand. “When you’re in a public health crisis, you’ve got to pull together, everybody rowing in the same direction,” he said. “Otherwise you’re not going to stop what is now, as we all know, this historically destructive pandemic that we’re dealing with.” The “divisive society” in the US, Fauci said, has proven that “you’ve got to separate public health measures from political ideology.”

Friday, January 29, 2021

US States with Most Confirmed Cases:

  • US Cases: Over 26.3 million.
  • US Deaths: 444,127 deaths.
  • California: 3,260,175 confirmed cases; 39,576 deaths.
  • Texas: 2,336,841 confirmed cases; 36,530 deaths.
  • Florida: 1,687,594 confirmed cases; 26,037 deaths.
  • New York: 1,419,485 confirmed cases; 42,200 deaths.
  • Illinois: 1,116,372 confirmed cases; 21,074 deaths.

South Carolina Reports First US Cases of South African Strain

The state of South Carolina announced that the US’s first two confirmed cases of the more contagious coronavirus strain first detected in South Africa. For both people infected, there is no known travel history or connection, which unfortunately suggests there is already community spread.

Influential Model Predicts New Variants Could Add up to 85,000 Deaths by May

An influential model predicts that new coronavirus variants could add up to 85,000 deaths to the US death toll by May. Dr. Anthony Fauci says that the variants are projected to become more dominant in the US by spring. “The fact is, when you have a virus that has ability to transmit more efficiently than the wild type in the community — sooner or later, by pure viral dynamics itself — it will become more dominant than the wild type,” Fauci said.

“We have a situation where there have now been reported in very specific places, in South Carolina for example, the isolate or the mutant that is the 351 [B.1.351, the Covid-19 variant first spotted in South Africa],” Fauci added. “That seems to have a very good fitness for spread, so whether or not that’s going to ultimately take over in the sense of being dominant is unclear by now. The projection that is made with regard to the UK [variant] is that probably by the end of March, the beginning of April, it actually will become more dominant in this country.”

Efficacy of Johnson & Johnson Single-Dose Vaccine

Phase 3 trial results show that Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine was shown to be 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe disease, but 85% effective against severe disease, the company announced today. The vaccine was shown to be 72% effective at preventing moderate disease in the US.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

New York City School Enrollment Down 4%

New York City public schools are seeing a 4% loss in enrollment for the school year in grades 3K through 12th grade, due to the pandemic. “Given the current circumstances of pandemic it is no surprise that we are seeing greater fluctuations in enrollment this year,” said Katie O’Hanlon, spokesperson for the Department of Education (DOE). “However, no school district has stabilized its school system the way we have, which means that we can and will continue to offer the gold standard in health, safety, and learning in a completely transformed educational environment to our students.”

White House Says it “Will Be Months” Before Everyone Who Wants a Vaccine Can Get One

A senior adviser to the White House COVID-19 Response Team said it will “be months” before any American who wants a COVID-19 vaccine can get one. “I want to level with the public that we’re facing two constraining factors. The first is getting enough supply quickly enough, and the second is the ability to administer the vaccines quickly once they’re produced and sent out to the sites,” said Andy Slavitt, senior adviser to the White House COVID-19 Response Team. “We are taking action to increase supply and increase capacity, but even so, it will be months before everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one,” he added.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Biden Administration Ramps of Vaccine Initiative

President Joe Biden announced the purchase of 200 million more vaccine doses to combat the spread of COVID, as well as augmented distribution to US states by millions of doses next week. The President described efforts to end the pandemic as a “wartime undertaking.” “We now have a national strategy to beat Covid-19. It’s comprehensive. It’s based on science, not politics. It’s based on truth, not denial, and it is detailed,” he said.

Coronavirus Task Force Denies Any Vaccine Stockpile

A senior adviser to the White House COVID-19 response team denies the claim that the White House is keeping a stockpile of vaccines. “Now we’ve gotten several questions on this so I want to be clear, as you heard us announce yesterday, any stockpile that may have existed previously, no longer exists,” Slavitt said during the first briefing from the Biden administration’s Covid response team.

Oklahoma Trying to Return Millions of Dollars Worth of Hydroxychloroquine

Oklahoma is attempting to return $2 million worth of hydroxychloroquine it purchased at the urging of former President Trump, according to a NY Daily News report. The report says that Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt purchased the anti-malaria drug from a California-based company in April and said the treatment could be used for other things if it proved to be ineffective against COVID-19 and “that money will not have gone to waste in any respect.”

However,  The Frontier reports that state’s attorney general’s office and the state health department are trying to return the drugs to private pharmaceutical wholesaler FFF Enterprises, Inc.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Biden Says He Hopes to Ramp Up to 1.5 Million Vaccines a Day, White House Clarifies

The White House clarified a remark made by President Joe Biden about raising the bar from 1 million to 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines a day. “The President didn’t actually say, ‘the new goal is.’ The President said, ‘I hope we can do even more than that, and that is certainly, of course, his hope. He is continuing to push our team to get as many Americans vaccinated as quickly as possible,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Moderna Expects its Vaccine to Protect Against Variants

Moderna believes its vaccine is effective against COVID-19 variants, after it was found to create antibodies coronavirus variants first found in the United Kingdom and South Africa, the company said in a news release on Monday.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Biden to Reinstate Travel Restrictions

President Joe Biden will reinstate COVID-19 travel restrictions that were lifted by former President Trump. The restrictions will be in place for non-US citizens who have been  in Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and much of Europe, a White House said, according to a CNN report.

CDC Reviewing New Data that Suggests New Variant is More Deadly

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is speaking with health officials from the UK to learn more about data that suggests a new variant of the coronavirus could have a higher mortality rate. “The CDC has reached out to UK officials and is reviewing their new mortality data associated with variant B.1.1.7,” a CDC official told CNN Saturday, using the scientific name for the variant first spotted in the UK in November. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said “there is some evidence that the new variant may be associated with a higher degree of mortality.”

Friday, January 22, 2021

US States with Most Confirmed Cases:

Biden Looks to Tackle Pandemic on His First Full Day in Office

In President Joe Biden’s first full day in office, he outlined a national strategy to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control.

“Our national strategy is comprehensive, it’s based on science, not politics. It’s based on truth, not denial, and it’s detailed,” Biden said, speaking from the White House. He said the 198-page plan is posted on WhiteHouse.gov.Biden’s plan starts with a national vaccination campaign in order to meet the President’s goal of administering 100 million shots, which is enough to cover 50 million Americans with vaccines that require two doses, in his first 100 days in office. “We’re at Day 1,” President Biden added. The plan, according to Biden, was developed with input from Dr. Anthony Fauci, among other advisers and experts.

US is Capable of Vaccinating Up to 85% of Americans by End of Summer, Says Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci said the US “can and should” vaccinate 70-85% of adults by the start of fall. “When you put the pedal to the floor, you can get it done,” Fauci told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Thursday night. Under the Biden administration’s current goal of 1 million vaccine shots per day, it would take until the end of 2021 to vaccine 75% of people, but Fauci’s belief can become more attainable with a single-dose vaccine – which Johnson & Johnson is working on and expected to report on Phase 3 trial findings by the end of this month.

Pfizer’s Vaccine Trial for Children is Fully Enrolled

According to CNN, Pfizer’s trial in children ages 12 to 15 is now fully enrolled with 2,359 participants. Currently, Pfizer’s vaccine is only FDA approved for people age 16 and older.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

US States with Most Confirmed Cases:

Biden Issues New Initiatives to Control COVID-19

During President Biden first full day in office today, he plans to roll out his strategy for controlling the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden plans to sign at least 10 executive orders, memorandums, and directives aimed at fighting COVID, and will present some of those plans at to the public this afternoon.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

US States with Most Confirmed Cases:

  • US Cases: Over 24.8 million.
  • US Deaths: 411,657 deaths.
  • California: 3,024,082 confirmed cases; 33,739 deaths.
  • Texas: 2,143,599 confirmed cases; 32,930 deaths.
  • Florida: 1,579,281 confirmed cases; 24,274 deaths.
  • New York: 1,287,593 confirmed cases; 41,164 deaths.
  • Illinois: 1,072,214 confirmed cases; 20,118 deaths.

Biden’s First Executive Order

President Joe Biden will begin his term today by asking all Americans to wear masks for 100 days and requiring the wearing of masks on federal property.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Trump Lifts Travel Bans on Much of Europe, Brazil

On Monday, President Donald Trump lifted COVID-19 lifted travel restrictions on much of Europe, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Brazil, effective January 26. “I agree with the Secretary that this action is the best way to continue protecting Americans from COVID-19 while enabling travel to resume safely,” Trump wrote in the order, referring to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar. President-elected Joe Biden, who takes office tomorrow, is expected to block this executive order.

Over 2 Million US Children Have Tested Positive Since Start of Pandemic

About 2.5 million children in the US have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 since the start of the pandemic, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Last week alone, 211,466 new child cases were identified through testing – an 18% increase in child cases over two weeks.

NYC to Run Out of Vaccines by Thursday

New York City is on pace to run out of vaccines by Thursday if the state doesn’t receive more doses, according to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. According to the mayor, as the city is vaccinating people “faster and faster,” the city needs more doses.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Incoming CDC Director Says US Death Toll will Hit 500,000 by mid-February

The US death toll from COVID-19 currently stands at well over 405,000, and the incoming Director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that it’s only going to get worse, with 100,000 more lives potentially lost in the next month. “By the middle of February, we expect half a million deaths in this country,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “That doesn’t speak to the tens of thousands of people who are living with a yet uncharacterized syndrome after they’ve recovered,” she added.

Biden Administration to Address “Bottlenecks” in Vaccine Distribution

Incoming CDC Director Dr. Walensky added that the incoming Biden administration will address “bottlenecks” in Covid-19 vaccine distribution, and reach its goal to deliver 100 million doses in 100 days. “I think that there are bottlenecks in different places across the entire system,” Walensky told “Face the Nation.”

“Different states are having different challenges — how much is being rolled out to each state, whether those states have adequate personnel, whether those states are getting vaccine to pharmacies,” she said. “Our job is to make sure that with the entire support of the federal government, that we address all of those bottlenecks wherever we are, so we can get vaccine into people’s arms.”

60% of New US Cases Have Been Reported Since Election Day

Johns Hopkins University data shows that 60% of new COVID-19 cases in the US have been reported since election day. As of Monday, JHU reports 23,937,331 Covid-19 cases in the US. Whereas, on the morning of Nov. 4 – the day after the US presidential election – there were a total of 9,573,836 cases.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Biden Outlines $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Emergency Package

President-elect Joe Biden outlined a $1.9 trillion emergency legislation package to fund the vaccine rollout and provide direct economic relief to Americans amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “There is real pain overwhelming the real economy — one where people rely on paychecks, not their investments, to pay for their bills and their meals and their children’s needs,” Biden said in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, in which he took aim at the nation’s searing income inequality. “In this pandemic in America, we cannot let people go hungry. We cannot let people get evicted. We cannot let nurses, educators and others lose their jobs when we so badly need them. We must act now and act decisively,” Biden said.

US Has Administered Over 12 Million Doses Thus Far

According to the CDC, the US has administered more than 12 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to 10.6 million people. Overall, that total breaks down to approximately 7 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and 5 million doses from the Moderna vaccine.

Fauci Believes 100 Million Vaccine Doses in Biden’s First 100 Days is Viable

Dr. Anthony Fauci remarked on Friday that “it’s quite feasible” the US can achieve President-elect Biden’s plan of distributing 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in his first 100 days in office.

“We’ve discussed it with the Biden team, and we think it’s quite feasible that we can do that. Right now, even now, we’ve gone from half a million a day to 750,000 a day. I believe strongly that it’s doable — and if we do it, stay on target to get the overwhelming majority of the country vaccinated,” said Fauci. “If we get about 70% to 85% of the people in the country vaccinated, we likely will get to that umbrella of herd immunity,” Fauci said. “We can start approaching some form of normality, but it’s really going to be dependent on the uptake of vaccines.”

COVID-19 Adviser Wants to Ramp Up Vaccinations

Ricky Bright, a member of President-elect Joe Biden coronavirus advisory board, remarked that the Biden administration plans to “push harder” on vaccinations. “We want to open the floodgates on vaccination and make sure everyone who wants to get vaccinated can do so as quickly as possible,” Bright told CNN’s Brianna Keilar. “It’s going to take a lot of effort, a lot of hard work, and we’re going to do as much as we can as fast as we can.”

Thursday, January 14, 2021

CDC Projects Much Deaths in Coming Weeks

Close to 40,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 in the first two weeks of January, and it’s only going to get worse. A CDC ensemble is now expecting another 92,000 Americans to die in the next three weeks. Currently, more than 130,300 people are hospitalized with the virus, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

Over 200 Deaths in New York

The State of New York suffered 202 deaths on Thursday and 13,661 more positive cases, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

  • US Cases: Over 23.3 million.
  • US Deaths: 389,790 deaths.

US States with Most Confirmed Cases:

  • California: 2,758,909 confirmed cases; 30,386 deaths.
  • Texas: 1,997,795 confirmed cases; 30,795 deaths.
  • Florida: 1,488,586 confirmed cases; 23,075 deaths.
  • New York: 1,182,351 confirmed cases; 39,808 deaths.
  • Illinois: 1,033,526 confirmed cases; 19,363 deaths.

CDC to Require Negative Tests from All Air Travelers Entering US

In an effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will require a negative COVID-19 test from all air passengers entering the US. The order will go into effect on January 26. “Variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continue to emerge in countries around the world, and there is evidence of increased transmissibility of some of these variants,” the CDC said in a statement. “With the US already in surge status, the testing requirement for air passengers will help slow the spread of the virus as we work to vaccinate the American public.”

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

US Now Averaging 3,000 COVID-19 Deaths Per Day Over the Past Week

To put the COVID-19 pandemic in perspective, the US is now suffering the equivalent of the 9/11 attacks every day. And over the past week, an average of 248,650 new Covid-19 infections have been reported every day.

Monday, January 11, 2021

US Vaccine Roll Out is Still Very Low

The vaccine roll out in the US to combat COVID-19 is still going slow. Out of over 22 million doses of vaccine that have been distributed to hospitals and pharmacies across the nation, only about 6.7 million people have been vaccinated thus far.

President-elect Biden Receives Second Vaccine Dose

President-elect Joe Biden received his second dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, and expressed confidence in the coronavirus taskforce, despite the disappointment in some of their progression. “I do,” he said, reiterating that he will be unveiling his Covid-19 plan on Thursday. Biden said that 3-4,000 people dying per day is “beyond the pale.”

Friday, January 8, 2021

  • US Cases: Over 22.1 million.
  • US Deaths: 374,988 deaths.

US States with Most Confirmed Cases:

  • California: 2,577,458 confirmed cases; 28,511 deaths.
  • Texas: 1,916,872 confirmed cases; 29,724 deaths.
  • Florida: 1,429,722 confirmed cases; 22,491 deaths.
  • New York: 1,116,929 confirmed cases; 39,149
  • Illinois: 1,008,045 confirmed cases; 18,941 deaths.

Friday, January 8, 2021

  • US Cases: Over 22.1 million.
  • US Deaths: 374,988 deaths.

US States with Most Confirmed Cases:

  • California: 2,577,458 confirmed cases; 28,511 deaths.
  • Texas: 1,916,872 confirmed cases; 29,724 deaths.
  • Florida: 1,429,722 confirmed cases; 22,491 deaths.
  • New York: 1,116,929 confirmed cases; 39,149
  • Illinois: 1,008,045 confirmed cases; 18,941 deaths.

US Reports More Than 4,000 COVID-19 Deaths in a Day

The US has reached perhaps its most dire milestone yet, after 4,080 COVID-19 deaths were reported on Thursday – both a new record one day death toll and the first time that number has exceeded 4,000.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Highest Single-Day Death Toll, CDC Warns it Could Get Worse

The US reported 3,865 COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, a single day record. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the overall death toll could surpass 430,000 by the end of January.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

  • US Cases: Over 21.6 million.
  • US Deaths: 366,662 deaths.

US States with Most Confirmed Cases:

  • California: 2,501,232 confirmed cases; 27,430 deaths.
  • Texas: 1,868,949 confirmed cases; 29,028 deaths.
  • Florida: 1,392,123 confirmed cases; 22,220 deaths.
  • Illinois: 991,719 confirmed cases; 18,562 deaths.
  • New York: 1,082,147 confirmed cases; 38,718 deaths.

US Hospitalizations Continue to Rise

Hospitalizations in the United States, including California, which reported more than 45,000 new cases in recent days. California has been hit especially hard, but New York, like all major cities, is suffering greatly from the pandemic, with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio now pushing from adults over the age of 75 to be prioritized for vaccination against COVID. New York City Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi elaborated that over the past 30 days, 6% of all cases are over 75 and up, but 30% of hospitalizations and 58% of deaths are in persons 75 and older. Percent positivity is also increasing in this category.

A Grim Death Toll in LA

Per a CNN report, over 1,000 people have died of Covid-19 in Los Angeles County over the past week as California grapples with surging cases and overwhelmed hospitals. “L.A. County reached the terrible milestone of more than 11,000 deaths due to Covid-19,” Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said in a statement, as she urged all residents to stay home and follow public health orders”As a community, we must commit to stopping the spread of Covid-19 in its tracks so that we can save as many lives as possible.”

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

COVID Hitting California Especially Hard

California reported that over 45,350 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, with hospitals in the state now pushed to their brink. Hospitals in California are now treating a record number of coronavirus cases, including many health workers. Per a CNN report, at Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center, 44 employees in the emergency department tested positive for the virus between December 27 and January 1. The harsh and devastating reality is, in Los Angeles County, and a person is dying of the virus every 15 minutes, according to a health official.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Over 4.2 Million Americans Vaccinated – That’s Not Enough

The US has vaccinated more than 4.2 million people with their first doses thus far, but that number is far behind what officials had hoped. That number also means herd immunity remains far off. To combat this lag, the US may start giving half doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine to people age 18 to 55, making the vaccine available to twice as many people in that age group.

A Startling Statistic

Johns Hopkins University data shows that the US has averaged 2,637 COVID-19 deaths every day. In other words, every 33 seconds an American is dying from the virus. On Sunday, more people were hospitalized with Covid-19 than any other day in this pandemic — 125,544, according to the Covid Tracking Project.