FS-ISAC Coronavirus Update, Feb. 8, 2021


  • States reported 96,003 new coronavirus cases Sunday, the first day the US has seen under 100,000 new cases since Nov. 2, according to the COVID Tracking Project, however the data is missing updates from a handful of states, some of which regularly do not report on the weekend and some of which are having technical difficulties.
  • While a recent dip in Covid-19 infections may seem encouraging, experts warn now is not the time for Americans to let their guard down, largely because of new variants circulating in the US are putting the country once again in the "eye of the hurricane," according to Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.
  • Officials nationwide are warning that Super Bowl gatherings could result in another surge of infections, and throughout Tampa, football fans crammed into bars and clogged up streets Sunday night - many without masks, despite warnings from public health experts that the event could become a superspreader event.
  • Florida became the first state Sunday to report 200 variant COVID-19 cases, and the country is now reporting at least 699 known cases of virus variants -  up from 618 on Thursday, a number that has more than doubled since January 27.
  • President Joe Biden said that it will be difficult for the United States to reach herd immunity, at least 75% of the population inoculated against the coronavirus, by the end of this summer.
  • Early data suggest two doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine provide only “minimal protection” against mild and moderate infection from the variant first identified in South Africa, the University of Oxford said Sunday, but AstraZeneca said it does believe it could provide protection against severe disease.
  • Pfizer expects to nearly cut in half the amount of time it takes to produce a batch of COVID-19 vaccine from 110 days to an average of 60 as it makes the process more efficient and production is built out.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, predicted Sunday that vaccine supplies would improve by March, with increased doses of approved vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna and a new vaccine candidate from Johnson & Johnson.
  • The number of coronavirus tests administered daily in the US has been trending downward for more than two weeks, and though experts say the trend is too fresh to set off major alarm bells, the decline raises the possibility that testing has reached a ceiling at a time when scientists say the nation should be conducting millions more tests per day to help stop the spread of the virus.
  • A splintered Supreme Court on late Friday night partly lifted restrictions on religious services in California that had been prompted by the pandemic, with the court ruling in cases brought by South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista and Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena who had said that restrictions imposed by Governor Gavin Newsom violated the Constitution’s protection of the free exercise of religion.
  • South African health officials said Sunday they're pausing the country's rollout of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine after a study showed it offered reduced protection from the Covid-19 variant first identified there, a hold Minister of Health Dr. Zweli Mkhize explained would be temporary while scientists figure out how to most effectively deploy the vaccine.
  • Britain is likely to deploy booster shots for coronavirus vaccines in the fall - and annual vaccinations after that - as scientists and public health officials race against the spread of new, more contagious variants of the virus, two government ministers said Monday.
  • France has tightened its mask mandate, banning students and teachers from wearing homemade or inefficient masks in schools amid concerns over the spread of new coronavirus variants.
  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Sunday that the benefits of the Biden administration's Covid-19 relief bill would outweigh the risks - adding that if the bill did pass, the US could get back to full employment next year.

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Vaccines – US

  1. The US has administered 41,210,937 doses of vaccines and distributed 59,307,800 doses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Sunday.
  2. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday that the number of vaccines doses available is improving, but demand was always going to going to be greater than the early supply, and that there may not be enough time to study the efficacy of receiving one vaccine dose and people should stick to the available data.
  3. As officials make strides to improve accessibility to vaccines in the US, some states are turning their focus to the underserved and vulnerable communities that have not yet been eligible for protection after initially racing to protect their priority populations, often health care workers and people in long-term care facilities, followed by seniors and/or essential workers.
  4. A second storm bringing heavy snow to the Northeast has shut down vaccination sites in at least two states, with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy both announcing that appointments for Sunday were being rescheduled due to the inclement weather.
  5. California’s Department of Health said Saturday that the next groups to receive the vaccine in the next few weeks include education and child care workers, food and agricultural workers, first responders, and law enforcement.
  6. New York state has administered 91% of the doses received from the federal government and “is capable of reaching many more New Yorkers than the current supply allows,” according to Governor Andrew Cuomo this weekend.
  7. New York, with about 75% of hospital workers inoculated, may become the first state to offer vaccine access to people with the simultaneous presence of two or more medical conditions, no matter their age.

US Outbreak

  1. The number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths are continuing to decline nationwide, according to a new report by the US Department of Health and Human Services, with a four-week downward trend of reported cases - resulting in a 50% decline since the peak on January, however the rates of adult occupancy in intensive care units remain high in several states.
  2. California reported an additional 12,394 cases on Saturday, according to the Department of Public Health, and the seven-day positivity rate is at 5.5% and the 14-day positivity rate is now 6.3%.
  3. The New York State Department of Health has released updated data on Covid-19 deaths among the state's nursing home residents, several days after a state Supreme Court judge ordered the department to fulfill a watchdog group's Freedom of Information request, with the new totals showing a slight uptick in the previously reported numbers.
  4. Stephen Hahn, the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner who came under relentless pressure from the previous administration to clear a vaccine before last year’s presidential election, called for a “serious conversation” about making the FDA an independent federal agency.

US Restrictions & Schools

  1. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Sunday that "at long last" a tentative agreement has been reached, and that students will return to the classroom in stages, with pre-K students starting on February 11, kindergarten through fifth grades on March 1 and sixth through eighth grades on March 8.
  2. San Francisco Unified School District’s union announced Sunday they have reached a tentative agreement with the school district to reopen schools for in-person learning amid the pandemic.
  3. New York City’s public school system, the country’s largest, will take another step toward a full reopening this month by welcoming middle school students back into classrooms that have been closed since November.
  4. Florida Senator Lori Berman is looking to address the so-called “Covid slide” in education by introducing a bill that would allow children to repeat a grade, letting parents for kids in grades kindergarten through eighth-grade file a request before June 30 to repeat the academic year, “without anyone asking any questions.”
  5. In a news release Sunday, the unions said the tentative agreement "outlines the baseline health and safety standards and vaccine access to physically reopen public schools."