FS-ISAC Coronavirus Update, Feb. 2, 2021


  • Over the weekend, the country's cumulative tally of confirmed cases surpassed 26 million, which signifies that one in every 12 Americans has now tested positive for COVID-19, however the national seven-day average of daily cases has dropped by 32.3%, the lowest average the country has seen since mid-November, according to The COVID Tracking Project data.
  • A total of 471 cases of coronavirus strains first spotted in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil have been reported in at least 32 US states, according to data posted late Sunday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases, said today that even if you've had coronavirus,  there's a "very high rate" of being re-infected with the new variants if they become dominant, and emphasized the importance of getting vaccinated to prevent severe and potentially fatal illness that may require hospitalization.
  • More than 32 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the US, according to data published today by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 65% of the 49,936,450 doses distributed, and all states have reported that at least half of distributed doses have been administered.
  • It is still recommended for people to get their second dose of Covid-19 vaccine on time, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Monday, stressing that "Until we have further data," people should continue to follow the data from trials by continuing the schedule of receiving two doses 21 days apart for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and 28 days apart for the Moderna vaccine.
  • The Biden administration today touted progress in Covid-19 vaccine doses being administered, but expressed concern that health care providers could essentially be hoarding second doses of vaccine that could be administered in real time because of a lack of predictability on supply, warning that that “should not happen.”
  • US efforts to ramp up coronavirus sequencing in order to identify concerning strains have jumped in recent weeks, but still aren’t at the level they need to be, according to the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
  • A study conducted by Purdue University and commissioned by Otis Worldwide, the world’s largest elevator and escalator manufacturer, found that short elevator rides have less risk for coronavirus transmission than outdoor dining.
  • The Biden administration announced Monday the Department of Defense and US Department of Health and Human Services are working with Australian company Ellume to purchase 8.5 million of its fully at-home Covid-19 tests that provide 95% accuracy within roughly 15 minutes.
  • Airlines and airports across the US will now be required to report to federal authorities any instances of passengers or patrons disobeying the new federal mask mandate, according to Transportation Security Administration documents, with the directive instructing officials to submit the “full name and contact information” of anyone not complying with the order, as well as the “circumstances related to the refusal to comply.” 
  • President Biden met on Monday with a group of Senate Republicans pitching a scaled-down coronavirus relief package, while Democratic congressional leaders took a step forward in laying the groundwork to pass the president’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill with only Democratic votes.
  • The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Monday issued an improved economic outlook and said the labor market will return to full strength quicker than expected thanks to the vaccine rollout and a barrage of legislation enacted in 2020, with the gross domestic product, or GDP, expected to reach its previous peak in mid-2021 and the labor force forecast to return to its pre-pandemic level in 2022.
  • Criminals are selling forged Covid-negative test certificates as an increasing number of countries require travelers to provide proof of such results, European law enforcement agency Europol warned Monday, with several cases of fake documents being sold already identified, the agency says in an “Early Warning Notice” issued to European police forces.
  • The COVID Tracking Project, a widely referenced and independent source of US data, said Monday that it will close down next month, adding that the federal government is now “able and willing” to provide the best available data on the pandemic.
  • Apple is testing a new feature that will let you unlock your iPhone if you’re wearing a mask for Covid safety while also wearing an Apple Watch, with the company sating it is beta testing the software now and it should be out sometime around the spring.

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Vaccines – US

  1. Nationally, about 1.1 million more doses have been administered since reported yesterday, for a 7-day average of about 1.3 million doses per day according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, with more than 26 million people now having received at least one dose of the vaccine and nearly 6 million people fully vaccinated.
  2. FedEx and UPS are keeping a close eye on their shipments of vaccines to the New York City-area, and are armed with contingency plans in case they’re delayed as a winter storm dumps heavy snow in the region.
  3. People in the US who have received at least one dose of the vaccine were most likely to be female, non-Hispanic White and at least 50 years old, according to data published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Monday and collected from states and other jurisdictions between December 14 and January 14, with the agency saying the data “likely reflects the demographic characteristics of the persons recommended to be vaccinated in the Phase 1a priority group,” including health care personnel and long-term care facility residents.
  4. Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the President, stressed to people across the US, "when the vaccine becomes available to you, please get vaccinated," saying today that the best way to fight the new variants that are spreading is to get people doses "as quickly and expeditiously as possible throughout the country."
  5. Alaska health officials said there are several reasons behind the state’s relatively high vaccination rate, including receiving a high number of doses through the Indian Health Service, a decision to receive doses monthly versus weekly as most states do, and declining virus caseloads, which has allowed health care workers to focus on inoculations.
  6. Arizona opened its second state run drive-through vaccination site at Arizona State University’s Phoenix Municipal Stadium Monday morning, and although the stadium has the capacity to vaccinate 10,000 to 12,000 people a day, due to low supply, officials expect to currently vaccinate just 500 people daily.
  7. Colorado now has 39% of residents aged 70 and older who have received their first vaccine dose, as the state move towards its goal of 70% getting vaccinated by the end of February, and officials are hoping that 75% or higher of educators can be fully vaccinated by March 5, ahead of spring break, depending on how many teachers are up for taking the vaccine.
  8. Connecticut got mass vaccination sites up and running early, and uses an inventory system that allocates unused doses to places that need them, but older residents have complained about long waits.
  9. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced today that the state has now administered over one million vaccines, saying that “Reaching this milestone is good news for our families, frontline workers, and small business owners, but there is more work to do.”
  10. New Jersey's six mass vaccination sites will be closed Tuesday due to the winter storm that's grounded planes and halted subways across the Northeast.
  11. New Mexico, which has given 9.8% of residents at least one shot, and has used 83% of its doses, is attributing part of the state’s success to its “data-oriented and science-oriented” governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, and to an app that allowed easy registration and close coordination among hospitals and providers.
  12. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday that vaccinations scheduled for Tuesday would be postponed because of the winter storm, the second day in a row that they have been delayed.
  13. New York state has vaccinated approximately 1.69 million residents according to the Governor Andrew Cuomo today, who said “We are basically exhausting our week to week allocation, waiting for my supply from the federal government, we have much more distribution in place than we have supply,”
  14. North Dakota, among the first states to lower the minimum age eligible for vaccination, from 75 to 65, has used 91% of the vaccines distributed to it – the only one above 90%, while more populous states like California (58%) and New York (64%) have used less proportionally.
  15. West Virginia has given at least one dose to 10.7% of its population, second only to Alaska, and leads the nation in the percentage of its population that has received two doses - 3.7%.
  16. The Biden administration is encouraging all individuals, regardless of immigration status, to get the vaccine, saying that federal immigration agencies will not conduct enforcement operations “at or near vaccine distribution sites or clinics,” according to a Homeland Security statement.

US Outbreak

  1. New cases in the US fell for a third week in a row, the first time the country has seen such an extended decline since last September, though more than a million people are still being infected every week.
  2. More than 441,000 people in the US have died of Covid-19 since the pandemic began about a year ago, and about 22% of those deaths - more than 95,000 - were reported in January, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
  3. There are 93,536 people currently hospitalized with the coronavirus, the COVID Tracking Project reported Monday, a number that represents a decline over the last couple of weeks, and compared to last week, the number of patients is down by 10% or more in 38 states.
  4. Colorado officials say the number of cases in the state have been steadily declining after a "little bit of a holiday spike," and hospitalizations have declined over that same period.
  5. New York state reported 8,508 new cases for January 31, the first time new infections have been below 10,000 since late December, Governor Andrew Cuomo said today, and the positivity rate is at 4.8%, the 24th straight day of decline.
  6. Representative James Clyburn, Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis, has "launched an investigation into coronavirus outbreaks at meatpacking plants nationwide, which have resulted in the deaths of more than 250 employees," and said that "OSHA failed to issue enforceable rules, respond in a timely manner to complaints, and issue meaningful fines when a company’s unsafe practices led to the deaths of employees."
  7. Public health doesn’t know political ideology, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday, explaining that “When you’re in a public health crisis, you’ve got to pull together, everybody rowing in the same direction.”

Business Related

  1. The Congressional Budget Office predicted today that the US jobless rate will fall to 5.3% this year and further to 4% between 2024 and 2025.
  2. Air travel demand shifted from international flights to domestic trips after the US government started requiring negative Covid tests for inbound travelers, JetBlue Airways CEO said Monday, and executives at other airlines including United and American have said the new requirements have hurt demand for some short-haul international routes, particularly Mexico, which hasn’t mandated tests or quarantines for inbound travelers like some destinations.
  3. American Airlines is updating its mask rules to match the Biden administration’s new transportation mask mandate, saying passengers claiming a medical exemption must ask for airline approval and show proof of a negative test within 72 hours of their flight, and the company is also updating its rules on bandanas and gaiters, now more restricted under the new federal rules.