Novel Coronavirus/COVID-19 COVID-19 News from Around the Web

Biden signs burst of virus orders, vows ‘Help is on the way’

AP - January 22, 2021

With a burst of executive orders, President Joe Biden served notice Thursday that America’s war on COVID-19 is under new command, promising an anxious nation progress to reduce infections and lift the siege it has endured for nearly a year. At the same time, he tried to manage expectations in his second day in office, saying despite the best intentions “we’re going to face setbacks.” He brushed off a reporter’s question on whether his goal of 100 million coronavirus shots in 100 days should be more ambitious, a point pressed by some public health experts.

Biden Plans Executive Action to Expand Food Stamps and Speed Stimulus Checks

The New York Times - January 22, 2021

President Biden will issue an executive order on Friday aimed at steering additional federal aid to families struggling to afford food amid the pandemic and at helping workers stay safe on the job. Mr. Biden, who has vowed to use the power of the presidency to help mitigate economic fallout from the pandemic, will also direct the Treasury Department to find ways to deliver stimulus checks to millions of eligible Americans who have not yet received the funds.

Biden’s US revives support for WHO, reversing Trump retreat

AP - January 22, 2021

The US will resume funding for the WHO and join its consortium aimed at sharing coronavirus vaccines fairly around the globe, President Joe Biden’s top adviser on the pandemic said Thursday, renewing support for an agency that the Trump administration had pulled back from. Dr. Anthony Fauci’s quick commitment to the WHO — whose response to the pandemic has been criticized by many, but perhaps most vociferously by the Trump administration — marks a dramatic and vocal shift toward a more cooperative approach to fighting the pandemic.

Fauci says U.S. coronavirus infections may be plateauing, vaccines should protect against new variants

Reuters - January 22, 2021

[Fauci] said on Thursday that based on recent seven-day averages, coronavirus infections may be about to hit a plateau in the US. … At a White House news briefing, Fauci also said coronavirus vaccines can be modified to account for new variants of the virus, and that while the South Africa variant is concerning, it does not appear to be in the US.

Americans dying faster of COVID-19 than our soldiers did in WWII

USA Today - January 22, 2021

In less than a year, more Americans have died of COVID-19 than died during World War II, according to Johns Hopkins University data. In the 1,347 days from the attack on Pearl Harbor to V-J Day, 405,399 Americans died fighting in World War II, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. In less than a quarter of that time, at least 409,000 Americans have lost their lives to COVID-19.

CDC Eviction Ban Extended Through March

US News - January 22, 2021

The CDC says it will extend a nationwide ban on evictions until at least March 31 in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at a crucial time. The moratorium initially took effect in early September and was set to expire at the start of 2021, but was extended through Jan. 31 by the most recent coronavirus relief package.

Biden looks to galvanize COVID-19 fight, vaccinations as he takes office

Reuters - January 21, 2021

President Joe Biden attempted to jump-start the U.S. government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday, signing a string of executive orders intended to lead a country reeling from its worst public health crisis in more than a century. Biden takes office a day after the US marked a total of 400,000 deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began spreading widely last March.

On Day 2, Biden To Focus On COVID-19 Strategy With 10 Executive Actions

NPR - January 21, 2021

One of the orders will direct agencies to use the Defense Production Act to address critical shortfalls in 12 categories of items needed for testing, treating and vaccinating people for COVID-19: vaccines, N95 masks, gowns, gloves, test supplies and kits, lab analysis machines, therapeutic drugs and other supplies — and will work to spur production of the items in America. … Biden plans to sign a memo to direct FEMA to fully reimburse states for vaccination and testing supplies and for the costs of National Guard deployments associated with the pandemic, officials told reporters. Biden plans to establish the COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board to boost testing.

Current, Deadly U.S. Coronavirus Surge Has Peaked, Researchers Say

NPR - January 21, 2021

The devastating fall and winter wave of coronavirus infections that is causing so much misery across the U.S. appears to have finally peaked, according to several researchers who are closely tracking the virus. While another surge remains possible, especially with new, more infectious variants on the horizon, the number of new daily infections in the current wave appears to have hit a high in the past week or two and has been steadily declining in most states since, the researchers say.

Jobless claims: Another 900,000 Americans filed new unemployment claims last week

Yahoo! Finance - January 21, 2021

New weekly unemployment claims retreated only slightly from last week’s elevated levels as the coronavirus pandemic continued to grip the U.S. economy. … Initial unemployment claims came in at 900,000 or above for back-to-back weeks after hovering below that level since August.

Some COVID-19 mutations may dampen vaccine effectiveness

AP - January 21, 2021

Scientists are reporting troubling signs that some recent mutations of the virus that causes COVID-19 may modestly curb the effectiveness of two current vaccines, although they stress that the shots still protect against the disease. … The research tested coronaviruses from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil, and was led by Rockefeller University in New York with scientists from the NIH and elsewhere. A different, more limited study out Wednesday gave encouraging news about one vaccine’s protection against some of the mutations.

COVID-19 Ups Complication Risks During Childbirth

HealthDay - January 21, 2021

Fortunately, the absolute risk for complications for any one woman is very low (less than 1%). But the relative risks for problems -- such as clotting and early labor -- are significant, the new study found. … Among the COVID-19 patients, the researchers found the relative risk of developing any type of blood clot was nearly five times higher than for those without the virus … These women were also far more likely to need intensive care or a ventilator, the researchers found. Those who had the virus were: 7% more likely to need a C-section, 19% more likely to have preterm labor, 17% more likely to have a preterm delivery, 21% more likely to have preeclampsia.

States report vaccine shortages and cancel appointments

AP - January 21, 2021

The push to inoculate Americans against the coronavirus is hitting a roadblock: A number of states are reporting they are running out of vaccine, and tens of thousands of people who managed to get appointments for a first dose are seeing them canceled. … The reason for the apparent mismatch between supply and demand in the U.S. was unclear, but last week the HHS suggested that states had unrealistic expectations for how much vaccine was on the way.

UK coronavirus fight showing positive ‘early signs,’ health officials say

Fox News - January 21, 2021

U.K. health authorities are voicing some early, positive signs that the country may be getting a hold on the deadly coronavirus pandemic, fueled by a highly transmissible variant. … U.K. confirmed cases are down by 22% over last week.

Biden leads observance of America’s 400,000 COVID-19 dead on eve of inauguration

Reuters - January 20, 2021

The sundown commemoration came just hours before President Donald Trump was due to leave the White House and hand over a country in crisis. The ceremony, spearheaded by Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris from the base of the Lincoln Memorial, marked the federal government’s first official nod to the staggering death toll from the pandemic.

Plunged into virus ‘dark winter,’ Biden must lead US out

AP - January 20, 2021

No matter his first acts in the White House, the raging coronavirus pandemic could take another 100,000 American lives in his first month as president after crossing the grim marker of 400,000 deaths just minutes before Biden began his trip to Washington. He inherits a country weary from 10 months of lockdowns and business closures, divided by attacks on public health professionals and tantalized by the promise of widespread vaccination that will take months to have much effect.