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Jan. 20 Coronavirus updates: Anniversary of first reported coronavirus case in U.S.

"To heal, we must remember," Biden said, as 400 lights illuminated the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, each representing a thousand Americans who died.
Image: Workers unload containers carrying the first shipment of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for Panama, from a courier aircraft transporting some 12,840 doses of the vaccine into the country, at Tocumen International Airport in Panama City
Workers unload containers carrying the first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for Panama, at an airport in Panama City on Wednesday.Luis Acosta / AFP - Getty Images

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On the eve of his inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden led the nation in mourning the 400,000 people across the United States who have died in the coronavirus pandemic.

"To heal, we must remember," Biden said, just before 400 lights illuminated the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, each representing a thousand Americans who died.



574d ago / 4:23 PM UTC

Nearly 12,000 Moderna vaccines ruined en route to Michigan, health officials say

Almost 12,000 Covid-19 vaccines were ruined while en route to Michigan due to a temperature control issue, state health officials said during a press conference Tuesday. 

Twenty-one shipments of the vaccine, made by Moderna and distributed by The McKesson Corp.,  reportedly got too cold and spoiled, according to NBC News affiliate WILX

The shipment of 11,900 doses went out Jan. 17, according to the Detroit Free Press

"That frustrates me when I know we are in a race and every vaccine matters," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said during a press conference Tuesday. "But that's not something that I could control. It's not the state of Michigan's fault."

Additional shipments of the Moderna vaccine were held back as officials worked to make sure they could be safely transported, The Detroit Free Press reported. However, the late shipments could lead to a delay for those who had scheduled vaccines at sites expecting those doses.

"I'm certain that people who had appointments scheduled at facilities that were supposed to get those particular shots were frustrated because they weren't able to get them," Whitmer said. "That's part of the bumpy road that we are all experiencing nationwide."

The Detroit Free Press reported that none of the spoiled vaccines had been give to anyone and that McKesson would investigate what led to the temperature failure. 

574d ago / 3:00 PM UTC

One year ago, the CDC announced the 1st case in U.S.

One year ago, the first coronavirus case in the United States was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

On Jan. 20, 2020, a man in Washington state tested positive for the virus after returning from Wuhan, China, the then-epicenter of the outbreak.

The next day, the CDC announced the case to the country. 

At that point, there were about 300 cases total of the coronavirus — referred to at the time as 2019-nCoV. Nearly all were in China. 

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a call with journalist Jan. 21 last year that “the risk to the American public is low,” but more information on the novel disease was emerging by the day. 

Still, Messonnier said, “we should expect to see additional cases in the U.S. and certainly around the world.”

One year later, more than 24 million cases of Covid-19 have been diagnosed in the U.S. alone, and the country has the highest death toll — more than 400,000 — of any country on Earth.

574d ago / 2:03 PM UTC

Vatican offers vaccinations to homeless

ROME — The Vatican has begun offering Covid-19 vaccinations to homeless people and says it plans to expand the program in the coming days.

A preliminary group of 25 people who live in residences run by the pope’s chief alms-giver received the shots on Wednesday in the Vatican’s auditorium. They joined Pope Francis, emeritus Pope Benedict XVI and other Vatican employees and their families who began receiving the vaccines last week.

The Vatican, as a sovereign city-state, arranged for its own vaccine deliveries and said its first jabs were the Pfizer-BioNTech shots. Italy has its own vaccine campaign underway but to date, the national health care system is prioritizing health care workers and the elderly.

Francis has called for universal availability of the shots, especially for the poor and most vulnerable. He has also said it was ethically necessary to take the vaccine, expressing incredulousness at vaccine and virus skeptics, because "you’re playing not only with your health but the health of others.”

574d ago / 12:43 PM UTC

Canada asks Biden for help getting more Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines

TORONTO — Canada won’t be getting any Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccines next week and 50 percent fewer than expected over the next month, officials said Tuesday, prompting the leader of Canada’s most populous province to ask President-elect Joe Biden to share a million doses from Pfizer’s Michigan plant.

Maj. Gen. Dany Fortin, who is leading Canada’s logistical rollout and distribution of vaccines, called it a major reduction, but said Pfizer is still expected to meet its contractual obligation to ship four million doses to Canada by the end of March.

U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer confirmed last week it would temporarily reduce deliveries to Europe and Canada of its COVID-19 vaccine while it upgrades production capacity at its plant in Puurs, Belgium. Pfizer’s Belgian plant supplies all shots delivered outside the U.S.

Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, said he’s angry. He asked Biden to help Canada out, noting there’s a Pfizer plant in Michigan.

“Our American friends, help us out,” Ford said. “You have a new president, no more excuses. Help us out.”

574d ago / 11:22 AM UTC

Beijing suburb enforces strict quarantine measures after 6 cases reported

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Local authorities imposed strict new measures on 1.7 million people in a Chinese suburb south of Beijing on Wednesday after confirming six new cases of Covid-19 a day earlier.

Some areas of the district were completely sealed off with residents unable to go outside for any reason, according to a statement released by local authorities on the Chinese social media platform Weibo.  Across the district, schools have been closed and public places such as hotels and stores allowed to operate only at 50 percent capacity.

The district confirmed its first Covid-19 case in a local school Monday, resulting in over 1,000 pupils and faculty members placed under collective quarantine, according to China’s Global Times.

China has recorded 757 locally transmitted cases of Covid-19 in the past week and 15 million people have been vaccinated, according to government figures.

 

574d ago / 11:20 AM UTC

Germany mandates medical-grade masks on transport and in shops

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Germany made the wearing of medical-grade masks mandatory in shops and on public transport, amid fears that more contagious variants of the coronavirus are plunging the country into a deeper health crisis, according to a government statement.

The penalty for not wearing a medical mask varies from state to sate. Offenders in Bavaria, for example, could face a fine of up to 250 euros, around $300.

Germany joins Austria in enforcing stricter guidelines on medical-grade face coverings. In Austria, FFP2 masks will be required from Jan. 25.

The news comes as German leader Angela Merkel announced that the country would extend its national lockdown until Feb. 14, in a press conference Tuesday evening. The lockdown was previously scheduled to end Jan. 31.  

Image: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German Finance Minister and Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz wear protective face masks at the chancellor's offices in Berlin on Wednesday.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German Finance Minister and Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz wear protective face masks at the chancellor's offices in Berlin on Wednesday.Fabrizio Bensch / AFP - Getty Images
574d ago / 11:18 AM UTC