FS-ISAC Coronavirus Update, Feb. 9, 2021


  • The number of new cases of Covid-19 reported across the globe has declined for the fourth week in a row, according to data from the World Health Organization, and in its weekly epidemiological update, the agency says over 3.1 million new cases of Covid-19 were reported last week, which is a 17% decline from the previous week and the lowest number of cases reported since the last week of October.
  • Experts warned the US could be in the calm before the storm ahead of another possible surge in Covid-19 cases fueled by variants, and urged local and state leaders not to ditch their safety measures and restrictions.
  • At least 944 cases of coronavirus strains first spotted in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil have been reported in the US, according to data updated Tuesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a 73% surge in the last week alone.
  • Two new COVID-19 variants, one of which has been classified as a "concern", have been identified in England with some similarities to the South African and Brazilian variants, a government advisory scientific committee said on Tuesday.
  • A small number of people who have received a Covid-19 vaccine have developed immune thrombocytopenia - a lack of platelets, a blood component essential for clotting, but it is not yet known whether the blood disorder is related to receiving a shot.
  • The Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency-use authorization for Eli Lilly and Co’s combination monoclonal antibody treatment, citing data that it reduces hospitalization and death among patients with mild to moderate covid-19 who are at high risk of developing severe illness, including people 65 years and older and those who have chronic medical conditions.
  • Americans’ perception of the risk posed by the coronavirus is the lowest it has been in months, a new poll from Axios-Ipsos published Tuesday found, with only 66% reporting they thought the risk of returning to pre-Covid life was moderate or high, the lowest figure since October.
  • About 60% of employees at nursing homes and assisted living facilities declined vaccinations, according to Rick Gates, Walgreens senior vice president of pharmacy and healthcare, who said that vaccine hesitancy was “higher than we expected,” adding that only 20% of residents refused the shots.
  • The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it plans to begin shipping coronavirus vaccines next week directly to federally qualified community health centers, which often serve some of the nation’s most vulnerable populations, in an effort to increase both vaccine supply and the number of places for people to get shots, with the program’s first phase aiming to allocate 1 million doses.
  • Pfizer said Monday that efficiencies and upgrades in the production process have helped the company double its output of coronavirus vaccine in the past month, and while they not give any production figures to support the estimate, spokeswoman Amy Rose said they expect production time to be cut nearly in half, from 110 days to an average of 60 days for one batch of Covid-19 vaccine.
  • Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky said today that people may need to get vaccinated against Covid-19 annually over the next several years, explaining “Unfortunately, as [the virus] spreads it can also mutate,” and adding that “Every time it mutates, it’s almost like another click of the dial so to speak where we can see another variant, another mutation that can have an impact on its ability to fend of antibodies or to have a different kind of response not only to a therapeutic but also to a vaccine.”
  • The first multicenter study to investigate the spread of Covid-19 in daycare centers suggests that preschool-age children are not superspreaders, and when the right public health measures are implemented, daycare centers are safe for both children and staff members, according to researchers in a study published Monday in the Lancet Child and Adolescent Health journal.
  • Roughly 40% of employers that shifted to remote work at the start of the coronavirus pandemic are planning to have their workers return to the office as early as March, according to a report from The Conference Board, which also found that many companies said that reversing remote work after a year will be difficult and most may make it voluntary for some and mandatory for others - or adopt some sort of flexible weekly schedule.
  • The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "is looking at all its options" as it considers whether passengers should be required to provide a negative Covid-19 test before domestic flights, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Monday night.
  • Congressional Democrats rejected calls from some moderate lawmakers to reduce the number of people eligible for $1,400 stimulus checks in President Joe Biden's COVID-19 relief proposal, proposing an income threshold of $75,000 annually, the same as in the last round of $600 checks.
  • A CBS News poll found that a very large – 83% - and bipartisan majority of Americans would support congressional passage of a new stimulus bill to help those impacted by the pandemic, and many would prefer that it receive bipartisan support in Congress, too.
  • Though six in 10 Americans think the vaccine rollout has been too slow in their states, 73% of Americans think the process has been fair, including majorities of both non-white and lower-income Americans, according to a new CBS News survey.
  • Nearly 24 million adults in the US say their families lack food to last them a week, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
  • A 12-day investigation by a World Health Organization team has shed little new light on the origins of the coronavirus that sparked the pandemic, and Tuesday the heads of the Chinese and agency delegations said the virus was “extremely unlikely” to have spread as the result of a lab accident, dispelling conspiracy theories.

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Vaccines – US

  1. The US is on the verge of administering 1.5 million doses of vaccine a day, nearing a goal President Biden set shortly after taking office last month, but state leaders continue to complain that the limited supply of vaccines has slowed their ambitions.
  2. The government plans to increase vaccine allocations by another 5% for the next three weeks, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday after a White House call.
  3. President Joe Biden believes America's teachers should be a priority in getting vaccinated, but he will listen to scientists' recommendations on a comprehensive approach to reopening schools, the White House said on Tuesday.
  4. The Biden Administration, in an effort get more people vaccinated, is considering mobile vaccination centers that can travel within a community, going to workplaces and churches to help tackle an “undersupply of shots.”
  5. Vaccines should be more widely available at pharmacies across the country in late March or early April, Rick Gates, Walgreens senior vice president of pharmacy and health care, said on Tuesday.
  6. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is seeking bids on two contracts worth $3 billion to hire thousands of medical personnel who are licensed to administer shots to help staff federal and state vaccine sites around the country.
  7. Uber and Walgreens said they are teaming up to expand access to vaccines, with Uber providing free rides to Walgreens stores and the company’s off-site clinics for people who book an appointment, but don’t have a car or nearby pharmacy.
  8. New York City residents with underlying conditions will be able to get vaccinated beginning Monday 15 February, Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, Commissioner of New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said today.
  9. California opened the state’s largest mass vaccination center at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on Tuesday, which will be set to administer 15,000 vaccines each day.
  10. Los Angeles County will only be offering appointments for the second dosage of the vaccine due to a shortage in supply, rather than offering any more first doses, the Department of Public Health announced Monday.
  11. San Francisco will expand its vaccine eligibility to include some essential workers, like teachers, first responders and food and agricultural workers, beginning February 26, Mayor London Breed said today.
  12. New York City’s first lady, Chirlane McCray, received a vaccine on Tuesday afternoon at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, as New York City health officials try to address a stark racial disparity in its vaccine rollout.

US Outbreak

  1. The US reported 86,646 new cases and 1,465 additional virus-related deaths on Monday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, the second straight day the country recorded under 100,000 infections.
  2. The US reported 775,975 new cases in a seven-day period ending Monday, the first time the weekly tally has been under 800,000 cases since November 6.
  3. More than 16,000 US Postal Service employees were under quarantine last week according to data provided by the American Postal Workers Union, after either testing positive for the virus or coming in contact with others who had.
  4. California reported another 8,251 new cases Tuesday, the lowest daily number since mid-November, with plummeting cases leading to a 33% drop in hospitalizations and 26% fewer ICU admissions over just the past two weeks, but the state’s number of deaths “continue to be devastating,” according to Governor Gavin Newsom, with a rolling average of just below 500 per day.
  5. New York Health Department data shows that nearly 15,000 confirmed and presumed Covid-19 fatalities have been recorded among residents of congregate care facilities in the state since March 1, 2020.
  6. California Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley announced the creation of a special response unit today focused on crimes against Asians, and particularly older Asians, after several unprovoked attacks on elderly Asian Americans, including at least three in the Bay Area captured in disturbing videos in recent days raised concerns about anti-Asian discrimination related to the pandemic.
  7. St. Louis inmate advocates and attorneys announced Monday night that they are not surprised at a weekend uprising at the jail there during which inmates smashed windows and set fires and a corrections officer ended up hospitalized, saying inmates have been mistreated during the pandemic. 
  8. Washington State’s Hospital Association received a fraud alert from the Department of Homeland Security stating that 40 hospitals may have received fake masks as part of a shipment of 2 million masks that arrived in December.

US Restrictions & Schools

  1. The Supreme Court late Monday once again ruled in favor of a house of worship challenging California’s Covid-related restrictions, an order that was widely anticipated and marks the latest First Amendment challenge to come before the Court, pitting churches against state and local officials seeking to contain the ongoing pandemic.
  2. A federal judge in Brooklyn issued a permanent injunction on capacity restrictions in houses of worship across the state of New York issued by Governor Andrew Cuomo, in an order published on Tuesday.
  3. Sixty-four percent of elementary and middle school students are already seeing some in-person instruction, according to the most current data from Burbio's School Opening Tracker, which aggregates school and community calendars across the country and gathers data from 1,200 school districts, including the 200 largest, in all 50 states.
  4. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to release an "operational strategy" this week advising that it would be safe for K-12 schools to reopen if they apply recommended "mitigation" practices, according to an email sent by an Education Department official soliciting feedback from education groups.
  5. As some students from Nashville to North Carolina return to the classroom, National Education Association President Becky Pringle said Tuesday the in-person learning standards set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "still aren’t being met."

Business Related

  1. Grocery store and meatpacking workers said they still feel just as vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 now as they did at any point during the pandemic, and in an organized call Tuesday the United Food Commercial Workers union called for hazard pay and that food service workers be prioritized for the vaccine.
  2. Mortgage delinquencies in the US fell to a pandemic low in November, though the number is still higher than fall 2019, and under 6% of all mortgages were delinquent at the end of the month - about 2.7 million homes, according to CoreLogic, who also reported that about 4% of all mortgages are more than 90 days past due, or seriously delinquent, compared to about 1% a year ago.
  3. Salesforce, which employs about 50,000 people, said Tuesday that most of its workforce will work remotely at least part time once the pandemic is over, but added that some employees will work fully remotely, while “the smallest population” will be coming into the office full time.
  4. The stages are now set for a reemergence of the performing arts in New York, with the launch February 20 of “NY PopsUp,” a 100-day rollout of 300 free concerts, recitals and theatrical and comedy performances in venues across the state.