FS-ISAC Coronavirus Update, Feb. 16, 2021


  • The rate of new US coronavirus cases continued to decline Monday and Tuesday, as the country’s rolling average of daily infections fell below 90,000 for the first time in more than 100 days, however, the milestone follows a holiday weekend, which have historically produced backlogs in virus case data.
  • Global coronavirus infections declined by 16% in the week leading up to February 14, the World Health Organization reported in an update Tuesday, with 2.7 million new cases reported last week - more than 500,000 fewer new cases compared to the previous seven day period.
  • Andy Slavitt, White House Covid-19 senior adviser, said today that while it is nice to see case numbers drop, "it could be misleading," adding the next new wave will be with the variant first detected in the United Kingdom.
  • Doctors across the US have been seeing a striking increase in the number of young people with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C, and even more worrisome, they say, is that more patients are now sicker than during the first wave of cases, which alarmed doctors and parents around the world last spring.
  • An Israeli woman who tested positive for the coronavirus delivered a stillbirth baby that also tested positive for the pathogen last week in the first such case in the country, the latest in a small number of cases worldwide suggesting that the pathogen can be transmitted from mother to baby while still in utero.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said he thinks the process of widespread vaccinations will likely start in the spring and large portions of the public will be able to be vaccinated by the early June.
  • Vaccine distribution in states and cities across the US is slowing down because of winter storms that have left more than a third of the country with below-zero temperatures Monday, with the severe winter weather sparking emergency declarations in at least seven states, including Alabama, Oregon, Oklahoma, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi and Texas.
  • The Biden administration is again increasing its weekly Covid-19 vaccine supply being sent to states, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said today, with the number of doses per week to states increasing to 13.5 million, a 57% increase from inauguration levels.
  • Once it is authorized in the US, the rollout of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will now be slower than federal health officials initially anticipated due to a miscommunication over the production timeline, with the company saying today they now project fewer than 20 million doses in April – down from the original 30 million and pushing the expected initial rollout to the end of June or beginning of July – around a month later.
  • Johnson & Johnson sought regulatory clearance for its vaccine in the European Union, on track to become the fourth shot approved in Europe and the first that can be given as a single dose.
  • The United Kingdom on Wednesday will call for ceasefires across the globe in order for people living in conflict zones to be vaccinated against Covid-19, the Foreign Office said in a statement.
  • The American Society for Testing and Material, an international technical standards organization, has published the first national standard for consumer masks Tuesday, outlining things like minimum fit, design, performance and testing requirements for face masks and would require user instructions, package labeling and a permanent tag on the product, which it hopes creates a baseline for quality and protection moving forward.  
  • This coming week, the House Budget Committee will assemble a final Covid-19 relief package based off the measures approved by at least nine committees, with the full House expected to vote on the bill by the end of next week and the package expected to be on President Biden's desk by March 14 when jobless benefits expire.
  • Homeowners struggling amid Covid were offered new relief programs by the Biden administration on Tuesday, with those with government-backed mortgages having more time to delay their monthly payments as well as more protection from foreclosure.
  • Repeat layoffs have swelled in recent months, signaling unstable work prospects for many Americans and hinting at deep pain in the labor market, with almost 2 in 3 workers who began receiving unemployment benefits in October collecting them at least one other time since April, according to a new paper by economists at the University of Chicago and JPMorgan Chase Institute.
  • The Presidents Day holiday drew more air travelers, with Transportation Security Administration airport screenings topping 1 million a day on Thursday and Friday, the most since the start of January, but despite the uptick screening volumes are still less than half of last year’s levels as the pandemic continues to depress air travel demand.
  • Georgia lawmakers are proposing a new bill that will allow families to reunite with their sick and elderly loved ones in hospitals and nursing homes during the pandemic, with the new "Right to Visit Act" seeking to bar these facilities from enacting policies that prevent a patient from being visited by designated family members and friends during a declared public health emergency.
  • North Korea has tried to steal Covid-19 vaccine and treatment technology by attempting to hack the computer systems of international pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, a South Korean lawmaker said on Tuesday after a briefing by government intelligence officials.

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Vaccines – US

  1. US public health advisers are weighing recommendations for extending the interval between the first and second doses of vaccines, a potential strategy for quickly getting protection to more people amid the spread of new variants.
  2. The US has administered 55,220,364 doses of vaccines as of Tuesday morning and delivered 71,657,975 doses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
  3. About 2 million doses will be sent directly to pharmacies across the country this week, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki Tuesday.
  4. Moderna said on Tuesday the release of some of its vaccine doses to the US government have lagged recently because of "short-term delays" in the final stages of production at its contractor Catalent Inc.
  5. Moderna said today it has delivered 45.5 million doses of vaccine to the US, and expects to deliver 100 million by the end of March, followed by an additional 100 million by the end of May and another 100 million by the end of July.
  6. New York City recorded the highest number of vaccine doses administered last week since the inoculation drive began in December, doling out more than 317,000 shots, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday.
  7. Washington state has announced a new plan to ensure minority communities receive vaccines after a report revealed how Hispanic, Black and multiracial populations have been comparatively under-vaccinated, with state and local leaders announcing late Monday the All in WA Vaccine Equity Initiative to help inoculate underserved communities.
  8. New York City officials released new data by ZIP codes on Tuesday that they said underscored troubling disparities in the city’s vaccination effort, with the share of residents who are fully vaccinated in some wealthier Upper West and East Side ZIP codes, which have high proportions of white residents, reaching up to eight times the rate in parts of predominantly Black neighborhoods like East New York.
  9. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will have six vaccination sites staffed with military personnel running next week, including one site in Los Angeles that was launched Tuesday morning, acting administrator Bob Fenton said on Tuesday, bringing the total vaccinations up to 30,000 per day at all locations.

US Outbreak

  1. At least 52,685 new cases and 985 virus related deaths were reported in the US on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases.
  2. The US last week reported a 23% drop in new cases and a 16% fall in the number of people hospitalized with the virus, with both figures declining for a fifth week in a row.
  3. As cases continue to decline in the US, Dr. Anthony Fauci says it’s still important to remain careful, explaining “We’ve just got to be careful about getting too excited about that because we do have the challenge of variants,” and adding “One of the things that we need to make sure we do is we don't get complacent when we see those numbers go down.”
  4. More than 3.03 million children in the US have tested positive for Covid-19 as of February 11, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, and last week alone, about 99,000 new child cases were identified through testing - an 8% increase in the last two weeks.
  5. A technology executive in California has apologized for hosting a late January conference in Culver City after which two dozen attendees and staff members at the event tested positive, a gathering that flouted guidance from public health officials in Los Angeles County, who had repeatedly urged people to avoid excess travel or public mingling
  6. The US Navy said Monday night that three sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt tested positive on Sunday, the same ship that last year had a significant outbreak - more than 1,000 of the ship's nearly 4,900-member crew who became infected.
  7. One year into the pandemic, millions of N95 masks are pouring out of US factories and heading into storage, but there still aren’t nearly enough going to hospitals.

US Restrictions & Schools

  1. California’s Los Angeles County elementary schools were cleared to reopen for in-person learning starting today, after county health officials announced they expected to reach the state's case threshold for reopening those campuses.
  2. The University of Virginia is banning all in-person gatherings and events due to an increase in cases, according to a notice sent to the university community on Tuesday, with all in-person gatherings on or off campus "prohibited and should be moved online" effective Tuesday at 7PM until at least February 26, at which point the university will consider lifting the ban.
  3. Howard University and other historically Black colleges have emerged as partners in the country’s coronavirus rollout, serving not only as clinics for vaccines but also working to engender trust in the inoculations.

Business Related

  1. The Democrat's Covid relief proposal expected this week is pretty close to what President Joe Biden outlined last month, including $1,400 direct stimulus payments, extending two key pandemic unemployment programs, providing money for state and local governments and nearly $130 billion for schools.
  2. US passenger airlines carried 371 million people in 2020, the fewest since 1984, according to new data from the Department of Transportation, and in December, passenger traffic on carriers fell 62% from the year earlier to 30.4 million, an annual total that was more than 60% lower than in 2019.
  3. CVS Health’s fiscal fourth-quarter earnings topped Wall Street’s expectations as the drugstore chain plays a bigger role with the nationwide rollout of vaccines.
  4. Germany’s possible new border controls could imperil the country's supply chains and wreak havoc on the economy, multiple prominent business leaders said on Tuesday.
  5. Spain hopes the introduction of vaccination passports combined with pre-travel COVID-19 testing will allow British tourists to return to Spanish destinations this summer, a tourism ministry source said Tuesday.
  6. The parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises has canceled sailings until June "as we continue to work through our return-to-service plan to meet the requirements" of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, spokesman Andrea DeMarco said in a statement.
  7. Two French airlines, Air Caraibes and French Bee, will start a pilot study next month of the AOKpass mobile application used to verify travelers’ test results for flights that include Paris to overseas territories such as Guadeloupe and Tahiti.