FS-ISAC Coronavirus Update, Feb. 4, 2021


  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the US appears to be in a “consistent downward trajectory” for both Covid-19 cases and patients, and “The recent decline in hospitalizations gives us hope that the number of deaths should start to decrease in the coming weeks.”
  • The coronavirus vaccine developed by British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca significantly slows transmission of the virus – up to a 67% reduction, and a single dose offers substantial protection of up to 76% effectiveness for up to three months, new data from Oxford University shows, with the immune system building protection 22 days after vaccination.
  • Nearly 34 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the US, according to data published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 61% of the 55,943,800 doses distributed and about 1.1 million more administered doses reported since yesterday.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said today he wouldn’t be surprised if the Johnson & Johnson vaccine candidate got emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration within the next two weeks.
  • At the current rate of 1.32 million shots a day, every adult in the US could be fully vaccinated in about a year, and assuming 75% of adults must be fully vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, the country could reach the threshold around Halloween.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that the US isn’t vaccinating people fast enough to stay ahead of new variants but the supply is improving, and warned that it’s “certainly a possibility” that new strains of the coronavirus could become dominant in the country.
  • Older Americans across the US who are now eligible for Covid-19 vaccines are struggling to book an appointment for the life-saving drug online, with some recruiting younger family members or friends who can quickly maneuver through the registration process before all of the spots are taken.
  • A federal court judge in Oregon has ordered the state prison system to inoculate every inmate who wants to be vaccinated against Covid-19, with the order – the first in the nation – coming as many states have declined to make vaccinating prisoners a priority, even though severe virus outbreaks inside prisons have been common.
  • Global vaccine confidence is rising according to a new survey showing that 54% of respondents across 15 countries would take a Covid-19 vaccine if one was offered to them, with the findings by the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London revealing that by mid-January, willingness to get vaccinated increased in 11 of the 15 countries since November, when 41% of respondents said they would get vaccinated.
  • US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said today that a growing number of studies show that students should be able to go back to school safely, even if all teachers have not been vaccinated against Covid-19.
  • While there is no official recommendation on double-masking, or layering two masks on top of each other, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that it may be the “common sense approach.”
  • Americans can still enjoy dining out - but only if it's "done carefully" and public health measures are followed, Dr. Anthony Fauci said today, explaining that “If you do indoor dining, you do it in a spaced way where you don't have people sitting right next to each other.”
  • Democratic legislators paved the way Wednesday evening for a party-line approval of President Biden’s anticipated $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, with the House vote clearing the path for the Senate to pass the relief package with a simple majority, which is likely to take place later in the week and would allow Democrats to write the bill into law and ultimately pass it without the need for Republican votes.
  • A new Quinnipiac University poll found 68% of Americans support President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue package, with 78% and 61% of respondents backing the $1,400 direct payments and $15 per hour minimum wage, respectively, included in the proposal.
  • Future economic success will be compromised unless employees can bring women back to work, warned labor firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, with data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics showing women accounted for all the job losses in December - 156,00 jobs, while men gained 16,000, and more than 2.1 million women have left the labor market completely since the beginning of the pandemic, 20% more than the number of men.
  • People are continuing to travel during the pandemic, despite warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a new survey from credit-card-review site The Points Guy found that 45% of people have taken at least one trip, defined as traveling several hours by car, plane, train or other modes of transportation, since the start of the pandemic.
  • Zoom, whose video-calling software became widely used when the pandemic set in, announced updates that could help companies stay with its products when offices open again, while reducing the need for physical contact. 
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said today that he hopes the Super Bowl will not become another superspreader event and that it is absolutely not the time to have watch parties, adding that football fans should “just lay low and cool it.”

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Vaccines – US

  1. For the first time in a week, the seven-day average for daily new reported vaccinations given to Americans declined on Tuesday, to about 1.32 million from roughly 1.35 million, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with one-day totals on the decline since hitting 1.69 million doses administered on January 30.
  2. Just over 8% of the US population - more than 27 million people - have now received at least one dose of the vaccine, and about 6.4 million people have been fully vaccinated, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data showed as of Wednesday.
  3. Some US community health centers say they are doling out shots far faster than government data suggests, likely accounting for some of a gap between how states and the federal government describe the availability of vaccine doses.
  4. South Carolina is expanding vaccine eligibility to individuals 65 and older regardless of health status or preexisting conditions, Governor Henry McMaster and the state's Department of Health announced Wednesday.
  5. West Virginia has consistently been one of the leading states in terms of the share of distributed doses that have been administered, and according to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it has administered 82% of the doses they’ve received, putting the state second after North Dakota, with the national rate currently at about 61%.
  6. More than 20 states now report vaccination data by race or ethnicity, and inequities are present in all of them, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis released today, with black people receiving a smaller share of vaccinations than their share of cases in all 23 states reporting data, and the same is true for Hispanic people in all 21 states reporting that data.
  7. California is now administering about one million doses of the vaccine each week, a rate two to three times higher than the initial rollout as the state attempts to speed up inoculations and jump start its economy as it emerges from a regional stay at home order that shuttered many non-essential businesses.
  8. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said that 837,225 vaccine doses have been administered so far, and added that appointment rescheduling's due to the winter storm will not create a “domino effect” on future appointments.
  9. White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said today the Department of Veterans Affairs has delivered one million vaccine shots to veterans.
  10. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today the mass vaccination site at Yankee Stadium will open Friday with 15,000 appointments available during the first week, with the site targeted because of the Bronx’s positivity rate, which is the highest among all the city’s boroughs, but also to “further the state’s and city’s mandate for fairness and social equity in the vaccine distribution process.”
  11. West Virginia Governor Jim Justice said states “need to get the bureaucratic thinking out of the system” to improve the pace of vaccinations, and suggested a “common sense” approach to distribution, focused on vaccinating older people first and making the vaccine available at places people are familiar with, including local pharmacies and local health clinics.
  12. California is opening two mass vaccination sites as part of a federal pilot program to quickly boost the number of available doses, as the state continues to see improving numbers in cases, deaths, positivity rate, and hospitalizations.
  13. Florida health officials announced on Wednesday that they are conducting an audit of the state's handling of the vaccine after more than 1,000 doses were spoiled in Palm Beach County last week.
  14. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday the Defense Production Act is “absolutely” on the table if the administration determines it’s necessary to ramp up vaccine supply ahead of the summer deadline they set for being able to offer a Covid-19 vaccine to every American, but she added “we have confidence in” the ability of vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna to produce sufficient vaccine in the time allotted.
  15. As of Wednesday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has provided more than $1.7 billion to 27 states, localities, tribes and territories to aid the vaccination effort, White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said today, and has also assigned more than 600 staff to the effort with more than half of that staff deployed directly to the vaccination sites across the country

US Outbreak

  1. There were 114,437 new cases confirmed in the US on Tuesday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
  2. The seven-day average for US COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths has been declining, according to The COVID Tracking Project, and with the exception of Vermont, all states and territories have seen either declines or no changes in their past week’s rates.
  3. US cases have declined since hitting a peak on January 8, dropping 13.4% to an average of nearly 144,000 cases per day from January 26 to February 1, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who said that while deaths have continued to increase, the pace appears to be slowing,
  4. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest ensemble forecast published today now projects there will be 496,000 to 534,000 deaths in the US by February 27, updated from the January 27 projection of up to 514,0000 by February 20.
  5. New Jersey’s state department of health reported 2,021 new positive cases on Wednesday, and there are currently 2,986 people hospitalized, of whom 525 are in critical care.
  6. Many new recruits to the US Marines this past summer had evidence they had been infected -  a finding that supports the idea that healthy young people may be carrying and spreading the virus without ever knowing it, researchers from the Naval Medical Research Center reported Tuesday.
  7. About 41% of Americans approve of how the country is handling the pandemic, a new survey from the Pew Research Center finds, and asked simply whether the country is doing a bad or a good job, 58% of those polled came down in the “bad” category.

Business Related

  1. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday said it was imperative to enact a comprehensive $1.9 trillion economic rescue package that includes $350 billion in aid to state and local governments.
  2. Private companies in the US added 174,000 new jobs in January, blowing out the 50,000 gain expected by Wall Street economists, as the national labor market continues to wage a recovery from widespread shutdowns and historic unemployment.
  3. More than 2.1 million women have left the US labor market completely since the beginning of the pandemic, 20% more than the number of men, according to labor firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, who said women have dropped out of the labor markets either because of lack of child care or to take care of older family members. 
  4. Activity in the US service sector reached its highest level in nearly two years, raising hopes the sector battered by the pandemic may be on the mend, with the Institute for Supply Management’s non-manufacturing activity index rising to 58.7 in January - the highest reading since February 2019 and above its pre-pandemic level.
  5. More contagious strains and new travel restrictions could limit air travel demand this year to just a 13% increase from 2020, the International Air Transport Association said Wednesday, with the trade group currently forecasting demand will rise by more than 50% this year from last, which would put passenger traffic at just over half of 2019 levels, but warned of “severe downside risk” if more restrictions are put in place.
  6. American Airlines warned it could furlough as many as 13,000 employees as a second round of federal payroll aid is set to expire April 1 without a demand recovery.
  7. United Airlines flight attendants ruled out a furlough-mitigation program that would allow some cabin crew members to volunteer for unpaid time off, pick up shifts when possible and keep their medical benefits.
  8. A Seattle law requiring large grocery stores to pay their frontline workers an extra four bucks an hour takes effect as of Wednesday, and Trader Joe's, for one, is opting to extend the additional cash beyond the city to pay its workers more nationwide, but the temporary wage bump comes with a catch as the supermarket chain is also canceling midyear raises for its roughly 10,000 employees. 
  9. Kroger is closing two stores in California rather than pay grocery workers an extra four dollars an hour for working at the nation's largest supermarket chain during the pandemic, a decision the company blamed on local officials who recently approved a temporary wage increase for some supermarket employees.
  10. The annual World Economic Forum, due to take place in Singapore in May, has been pushed back again as a result of the current global travel restrictions that are making planning difficult for an in-person meeting in the first half of the year, with the event now scheduled to convene from August 17 to 20.