FS-ISAC Coronavirus Update, March 2, 2021


  • Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said she is “deeply concerned” about the potential shift in the trajectory of the pandemic, and while the number of cases had been declining, the most recent seven-day average of new cases at about 67,200 people represents an increase of a little more than 2% compared to the prior seven days, with the most recent seven-day average of deaths also increasing more than 2%.
  • Global cases rose for the first time in almost two months in the past week, mainly in the Americas, Europe and Southeast Asia, the World Health Organization said today, with part of the reason that countries are easing restrictions, people are letting their guard down and variants are spreading.
  • In February, known variant cases in the US quintupled from 471 to 2,463 even as total coronavirus infections were dropping from a peak in January.
  • The Biden administration is taking the emergence of a new coronavirus strain in New York “very seriously,” White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said today, as the new variant, which researchers are calling B.1.526, rapidly spreading in New York City and carrying a mutation that could weaken the effectiveness of vaccines.
  • The first UPS truck carrying the Johnson & Johnson vaccine arrived at the carrier’s Worldport hub in Louisville, Kentucky this morning, and the company says deliveries will start Tuesday for the eastern half of the country.
  • The White House sought Monday to tamp down fears that the newly authorized coronavirus vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson is not as useful as two earlier ones and could be steered mainly to hard-to-reach communities.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday that more than 15% of the population - about 50.7 million people - have now received at least one dose of vaccine, and nearly 8% of the population - nearly 25.5 million people - have been fully vaccinated with both shots.
  • Two doses of coronavirus vaccine protect people better against coronavirus variants than just one dose, with the B.1.351 variant first seen in South Africa having the most worrying effects on the ability to produce an immune response, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Dr. Heather Scobie telling a meeting of the agency’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Monday.
  • Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a Pfizer board member and former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said Monday that early studies suggest Covid vaccines are effective in preventing person-to-person of the virus, however, a definitive answer on the level of impact is likely to arrive in the next month or two.
  • For some people, symptoms that persist months after getting sick with Covid-19 could become a chronic illness, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said Monday, explaining “I fear that some people who have had these effects who are already three or four months out may not be on a path to get better in a few more months, and this could be something that becomes a chronic illness.”
  • The White House expressed concern Monday amid ongoing issues facing many Americans who are now eligible for Covid-19 vaccines but still struggling to set up vaccination appointments, suggesting the federal government may step in to provide support to states.
  • Three more states have started allowing all or some teachers and school staff to receive the Covid-19 vaccine starting today, bringing the total to 31 states plus Washington, DC, and though some have announced they are prioritizing teachers, vaccine availability remains a concern across the country.
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday that “this week” they will take up the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, adding “I expect a hardy debate and some late nights, but the American people sent us here with a job to do,” as Democrats scrap plans to help raise workers’ pay by taxing companies that refused to pay a minimum wage of $15 an hour.
  • Stocks rose across the board Monday on Wall Street as traders welcomed a move lower in long-term interest rates in the bond market and investors also watched Washington, D.C., as a big economic stimulus bill moved to the Senate, with the S&P 500 adding about 2.4%, the Dow was up a little over 600 points, or nearly 2%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite rose 3%.
  • The $900 billion Covid relief bill passed in December with $600 stimulus checks and extra unemployment benefits, helped lift about 1.6 million Americans out of poverty in January, according to economists at the University of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame.
  • A coalition of coronavirus survivors has launched an online portal, gotcovid.org, on Monday that directs people who recently tested positive for COVID-19 to hospitals, medical centers and other locations that offer monoclonal antibody treatment.
  • Twitter says it will start labeling tweets with misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines starting Monday, and since cracking down on misleading information about the coronavirus and vaccines, the company has removed more than 8,400 tweets and "challenged" 11.5 million accounts across the globe.

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US Outbreak

  1. The US reported a 3% decline in new cases of COVID-19 last week, a much smaller drop than in the previous six weeks, and health officials warned that progress against the global pandemic was stalling, and on Sunday, for the first time in more than a month, a majority of US states - 29 in all - reported rising case counts.
  2. US infections had the biggest monthly decline in February, plunging 61% to about 2.42 million, data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg show, a trend that helped lower the death count from January by 25% to 71,772.
  3. The number of hospitals reporting full intensive care units has fallen by nearly 50% nationwide since early January, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data from the Department of Health and Human Services.
  4. Extraordinarily high turnover among staffs at US nursing homes likely contributed to the shocking number of deaths at the facilities during the pandemic, the authors of a new study published Monday in Health Affairs, a health policy journal that represented a comprehensive look at the turnover rates in 15,645 nursing homes across the country and accounting for nearly all of the facilities certified by the federal government, with researchers finding the average annual rate was 128 percent, with some facilities experiencing turnover that exceeded 300 percent.
  5. New Jersey has had more than 200 commercial and tribal casinos reopen smoke free during the pandemic, including every casino in New Jersey, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday, something the agency said would not have been positive before Covid-19.
  6. The US has recorded an average of about 1.5 million tests per day over the past week, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project, about 26% fewer than the average in mid-January, when the US hit a peak seven-day average of more than 2 million tests reported on January 15.

Business Related

  1. President Biden and Senate Democrats talked about “targeting” the Covid relief package today but not reducing the overall price tag of the $1.9 trillion plan, according to Democratic Senator Jon Tester who attended the virtual meeting Monday on the legislation's next steps, including limiting federal unemployment benefits from $400 a week to $300 in an effort to save money and extend the program longer.
  2. Last December’s US Covid relief package provided a cash infusion that led the poverty rate to fall to 11.3% in January, down from 11.8% the month prior, the first reduction since June.
  3. Data from consumer spending research firm Facteus show that travel spending has edged up for the last three weeks, and while for the week of February 21 travel spending was down 42% compared to the year-earlier period, it was still up four percentage points from the prior week and bookings were also up six percentage points last week.
  4. As the pandemic shredded the financial picture for many Americans, complaints about the behavior of financial companies to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau more than doubled in 2020 according to the US PIRG Education Fund, which studied grievances lodged with the CFPB last year.
  5. Delta Air Lines is paying managers bonuses from a few thousand dollars to above six figures, to help make up for pay cuts the carrier implemented last year, however frontline employees, like pilots, flight attendants and other office workers will not receive them, a move the pilots’ union criticized.
  6. All 270 Apple stores in the US are open for business after the last closed locations reopened in Texas on Monday, but not all stores fully open for walk-in customers to go inside and browse, with many locations still only allowing appointment only or pickups and drop-offs.