L.A. to Close Dodger Stadium for Lack of Vaccine: Virus Update
A pedestrian wears an FFP2 protective face mask on a walkway in the Mall of Berlin near the Bundesrat federal council building in Berlin. (Photographer: Liesa Johannssen-Koppitz/Bloomberg)

L.A. to Close Dodger Stadium for Lack of Vaccine: Virus Update

U.S. vaccine supply should increase enough by April to allow anyone who wants a shot to begin getting one, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor. Los Angeles is closing Dodger Stadium and other mass vaccination sites for two days because of a shortage of vaccine.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said vaccinations of nursing-home patients have helped cut the number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients, allowing the state to lift a daily curfew. Amazon.com Inc. has hired several employees of a Covid-19 testing startup as part of efforts to curb outbreaks among its workers.

The World Health Organization warned that a decline in overall virus cases conceals increasing numbers of outbreaks and community spread involving variants, with the strain first identified in South Africa late last year now identified in 19 countries.

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L.A. to Close Dodger Stadium for Lack of Vaccine: Virus Update

Oklahoma Opens Vaccinations to School Staff (4:17 p.m. NY)

Oklahoma teachers and school staff of all ages will be eligible “in the next few days” for vaccinations, Governor Kevin Stitt said Thursday.

The state will open vaccine appointments Feb. 22 for the next high-risk priority group that includes Oklahomans under 65 with co-morbidities and teachers and staff in Pre-K-12 schools and educational settings, Oklahoma State Health Dept. Commissioner Lance Frye said at a Thursday press conference.

The move expands vaccine eligibility to nearly 1.1 million Oklahomans, of which 89,000 are teachers and staff.

Ohio Curfew Lifted as Hospital Burden Eases (4:11 p.m. NY)

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said vaccinations of nursing-home patients have helped cut the number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients, allowing the state to lift a daily curfew in force since November.

Nursing-home residents account for more than half of Ohio’s deaths, which state officials revised upward to 12,577 on Thursday after what DeWine called a data reconciliation issue.

Amazon Hires Founders of Testing Startup to Curb Spread (4:09 p.m. NY)

Amazon.com Inc. has hired several employees of a Covid-19 testing startup as part of efforts to curb outbreaks among its workers.

Caspr Biotech’s cofounders, Chief Executive Officer Franco Goytia and Chief Strategy Officer Carla Gimenez, joined Amazon in December, according to a person familiar with the situation. The pair, along with several other startup employees, are working on a project codenamed Artemis. It’s unclear whether Amazon acquired Caspr Biotech.

In a shareholder letter in April, Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos said the company had begun building a lab to test employees for Covid-19.

L.A. Vaccine Shortage to Close Dodger Stadium, Other Sites (3:25 p.m. NY)

Los Angeles is expected to run out of Covid-19 vaccine on Thursday and will shut Dodger Stadium and four other mass vaccination sites on Friday and Saturday while waiting for more doses to arrive.

“We’re vaccinating people faster than new vials are arriving,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a video address on Wednesday. “Our vaccine supply is uneven, it’s unpredictable and too often inequitable.” The mayor said second doses wouldn’t be affected by the closures.

States and cities around the nation have complained that supply is far less than demand and local ability to get shots into arms. President Biden has promised to increase supply, a vow that Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, repeated on Thursday.

Ireland Vaccine May Be Showing Results (1:58 p.m. NY)

Ireland may be seeing the first impact of the vaccines on case numbers among healthcare workers, a government adviser said. New cases among that cohort are below what would be expected given the spread of the virus in the wider community, Dr Karina Butler who advises the government on its vaccine program, told reporters in Dublin. Authorities are overall “cautiously optimistic” on the virus’s spread, deputy Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn said, with hospitalizations now less than half the peak of mid-January. Ireland reported 866 new virus cases on Thursday, with 52 deaths.

France Outbreak at Plateau, Minister Says (1:15 p.m. NY)

The epidemic in France is currently at a plateau and may be declining slightly, French Health Minister Olivier Veran said at a weekly press conference. He noted that a survey of some 17,000 tests over the past four days showed that between 4% and 5% of cases are linked to the South African and Brazilian variants of the coronavirus while between 20% and 25% are from the U.K. variant. The country reported 21,063 new infections on Thursday and 360 new deaths, bringing to total to 80,803 fatalities.

Italy Cases Accelerate (11:48 a.m. NY)

Italy cases rose to 15,146 Thursday from 12,956 a day earlier. That was the highest in more than two weeks. Patients in intensive care units are coming down at a slow pace, falling by 2 to 2,126.
As most of the country is considered low-risk area, there’s concern that the recent relaxation of measures and the possible reopening of ski resorts next week could boost cases.

Fauci Predicts Vaccines Open to Everyone by April (11:24 a.m. NY)

Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted an increasing supply of vaccines will allow for “much more of a mass vaccination approach” in the U.S. by April, allowing anyone who wants a shot to get one.

“I would imagine by the time we get to April that will be what I would call for better wording, open season,” the nation’s top infectious disease doctor said on NBC’s “Today Show.” “Namely virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated.”

He cautioned however that it would take several more months logistically to meet demand.

He also said that the spread of coronavirus variants is “sobering” but said the “uplifting news” is that the current vaccines appear effective on the rapidly spreading variant first found in the U.K.

Demand High as Pharmacies Offer Vaccine (11:09 a.m. NY)

Nearly 20,000 Covid-19 vaccine appointments at CVS Health Corp. stores in New Jersey were booked within an hour Thursday as a national pharmacy expansion rolled out.

About 1 million shots are available at nearly two dozen pharmacy chains across the country through a federal program that started Thursday. CVS, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., Rite Aid Corp. are among participating companies. The initiative will boost the number of doses that are available to the general public.

CVS will receive about 250,000 doses divided across 11 states, the company said. In New Jersey, that means 19,900 are available at CVS stores throughout the state. Each participating Rite Aid store will initially receive 100 doses of Moderna Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine, the company said. Rite Aid will administer shots in five states and two cities.

Illinois Expands Eligibility but Chicago Will Not Follow (11:04 a.m. NY)

Illinois plans to expand eligibility within Phase 1B to people who have co-morbid and underlying conditions and will prioritize individuals with disabilities starting on Feb. 25. The state’s most populous city and county, however, will not follow in its footsteps for now. Such an expansion of eligibility in Chicago and Cook County would add more than a million people and may result in seniors, front-line essential workers and the most heavily burdened communities facing “an even harder time getting a vaccine,” according to a joint statement late Wednesday from Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Sweden to Ignore WHO Guidance on AstraZeneca (9:16 a.m. NY)

Sweden will stick to its recommendation to not give AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine to people older than 65, ignoring guidance from the World Health Organization, state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said.

“If you only have that vaccine in a country, you should of course use it for people over 65,” Tegnell told reporters on Thursday. “In Sweden, we have the luxury that we have several vaccines, therefore we think it is reasonable right now that we do as we thought we would have to do: direct the vaccine to different groups.”

Slovenia Reopens Schools, Most Shops and Services (9:09 a.m. NY)

The government said it will allow shops and services to reopen on Monday after a drop in the number of new infections and hospitalizations. A regional travel ban will also end and schools, universities and gyms will also reopen next week.

Germany to Restrict Travel With Neighbors (8:47 a.m. NY)

Germany plans to impose restrictions on travel from Austria and the Czech Republic over concerns about aggressive mutations of the coronavirus, potentially disrupting cross-country commuters and commerce. The German states of Bavaria and Saxony have asked the federal government to establish border controls with the neighboring countries, Bavarian Premier Markus Soeder said on Thursday.

NYC Restaurants Rush Toward Reopening (8:23 a.m. NY)

On Friday, New York City will pull back indoor dining restrictions. Not every restaurant plans to open its doors.

Major chains like McDonald’s Corp. and Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. are opting to keep their tables cordoned off due to health and staffing concerns. Other restaurants say opening at New York’s limit of 25% capacity won’t yield enough sales to warrant the additional staffing, cleaning and operational costs.

CDC to Roll Out School Plan Tomorrow (8 a.m. NY)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will present a plan tomorrow to help U.S. schools open despite coronavirus, White House adviser for Covid-19 Andy Slavitt told MSNBC. “There are schools that have done it safely and there are schools that have done it not as safely,” Slavitt said. “We should be open as much as possible.”

L.A. to Close Dodger Stadium for Lack of Vaccine: Virus Update

English Hospitals Admit One-Third of Covid Patients in a Month (7 a.m. NY)

Hospitals in England treated almost 102,000 people battling the virus last month, representing a third of all patients who have needed such care since the pandemic began, NHS England said. Hospitals are still treating about 1,000 more patients with Covid-19 than they were at the peak of the first wave.

Variant Spread in Europe Increasing, WHO Says (6:30 a.m. NY)

The decline in overall cases conceals increasing numbers of outbreaks and community spread involving variants of concern, according to Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Europe.

The strain first identified in South Africa late last year has now been identified in 19 countries, and most of those are linked to travel. While community transmission in Europe is not yet widespread, the variant has been increasingly linked to outbreaks in communities, Kluge said.

Merkel Warns Mutations Could Wreck Progress (4:24 p.m. HK)

Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that aggressive coronavirus mutations will gain the upper hand in Germany, threatening to destroy progress made in containing the pandemic. Europe’s largest economy needs to maintain tight controls even as contagion rates steadily decline and immunizations slowly ramp up, Merkel said Thursday in a speech to parliament in Berlin.

Merkel and Germany’s 16 state premiers agreed late Wednesday to extend most virus restrictions until March 7, while opening a pathway to a gradual return to some semblance of normality after months of stringent curbs.

L.A. to Close Dodger Stadium for Lack of Vaccine: Virus Update

U.K. Retailers See $31 Billion Cost of Lockdowns (4:16 p.m. HK)

Britain’s three pandemic lockdowns have cost retailers that have been ordered to close about 22 billion pounds ($31 billion) in lost sales, according to a trade group.

In a sign of the mounting toll Covid-19 is taking on one of the country’s biggest employment sectors, the British Retail Consortium says 2020 was the worst year on record, with in-store non-food sales declining by 24%.

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