A COVID-19 vaccine shortage has forced California to temporarily close five mass vaccination sites, all in Los Angeles, including one at Dodger Stadium.
Over the past week, state health officials say they have received less than 20 per cent of the doses they need to maintain the sites.
Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city would exhaust its supply of Moderna first doses — two are required for full immunization — forcing it to close drive-thru and walk-up vaccination sites Friday and Saturday.
According to the Los Angeles Times, however, the sites closed even earlier than expected after running out of doses on Thursday.
They may not reopen until the city gets more supplies, perhaps next Tuesday or Wednesday. Smaller mobile vaccination clinics will continue operating.
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California leads the United States in COVID-19 deaths with 45,496, edging past New York’s toll of 45,312, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Vaccine supply constraints are slowing ambitious vaccination programs in the U.S., as massive sites capable of putting shots into thousands of arms daily in states including New York, California, Florida and Texas, as well as hospitals and pharmacies, beg for more doses.
The U.S. has seen more than 27.3 million cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began and more than 475,000 deaths, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University.
In-person schooling can resume safely with masks, physical distancing and other strategies, but vaccination of teachers, while important, is not a prerequisite for reopening, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.
The CDC released its long-awaited road map for getting students back to classrooms in the middle of a pandemic. But its guidance is just that — the agency cannot force schools to reopen, and agency officials were careful to say they are not calling for a mandate that all U.S. schools be reopened.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Thursday predicted that it will be “open season” for COVID-19 vaccinations in the United States by April as increased supply allows most people to get shots.
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Speaking to NBC’s Today Show, the science adviser to U.S. President Joe Biden said the rate of vaccinations will greatly accelerate in the coming months. He credits forthcoming deliveries of the two approved vaccines, the potential approval of a third and moves by the Biden administration to increase the nation’s capacity to deliver doses.
Fauci said that “by the time we get to April,” it will be “open season, namely virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated.” He cautioned it will take “several more months” to deliver injections to adult Americans but predicted the “overwhelming majority” of people in the U.S. could be vaccinated by the middle and end of the summer.
What’s happening in Canada
WATCH | See some of what experts had to say about Ontario’s latest COVID-19 modelling and hear what it might mean for people in the province:
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, says people need to continue what they’ve been doing but with “even more diligence” to counter the more contagious variants that have been identified in several provinces.
Speaking at a briefing on Friday, Tam said that means keeping up “individual public health practices” to limit spread, protecting the vulnerable and allowing time for vaccination programs to expand.
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As of Friday, eight provinces had reported more than 429 cases of the B117 variant, which was first detected in the U.K., she said.
There were also 28 recorded cases of the B1351 variant, which was first reported in South Africa, and one case of the P1 variant blamed for a surge of cases in Brazil.
“At least three of these provinces are reporting evidence of community spread ” and variants have been “linked to outbreaks.”
The federal government on Friday announced it is stepping up its capacity to identify and track cases of COVID-19 variants of concern with a $53-million investment.
“Funding will expand upon existing public health networks to establish regional clinical and public health teams to quickly identify and characterize variants of concern,” a statement from the Public Health Agency of Canada said.
According to PHAC, the increased funding will “help rapidly scale up our surveillance, sequencing and research efforts.”
Starting Feb. 22, airline travellers landing in Canada will have to quarantine in a hotel at their own expense, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu said arriving passengers will need to take a COVID-19 test and book a government-approved hotel as they await results in the city in which they first arrive in Canada, either Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto or Montreal.
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If the test result is negative, the traveller can leave for home or catch their connecting flight to their final destination. Those who test positive will be sent to another designated government quarantine facility.
The testing requirement is in addition to the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for returning non-essential travellers.
As of 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Canada had reported 820,311 cases of COVID-19 — with 36,944 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 21,162.
Ontario on Friday reported 1,076 cases of COVID-19 and 18 additional deaths. COVID-19 hospitalizations stood at 763, with 295 people in intensive care units.
The Ontario government on Friday issued a list of regions that will remain under a stay-at-home order while others transition into a colour-coded framework of restrictions, as of Feb. 16.
The only regions not transitioning out of the stay-at-home order on that date include Peel and York regions, Toronto and North Bay Parry Sound District.
Ontario is reporting 1,076 cases of <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a> and over 62,000 tests completed. Locally, there are 361 new cases in Toronto, 210 in Peel and 122 in York Region. <br> <br>As of 8:00 p.m. yesterday, 442,441 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.
In Quebec, health officials reported 984 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and 25 additional deaths on Friday. COVID-19 hospitalizations stood at 849, with 137 people in intensive care units, according to an update published by the province on Friday.
In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, while New Brunswick reported five new cases.
Newfoundland and Labrador is now battling a COVID-19 “variant of concern,” responsible for this week’s mass outbreak in the capital, according to Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, the province’s chief medical officer of health.
Effective immediately, the entire province is at Alert Level 5, with all but essential businesses closed, Fitzgerald announced Friday.
There were no new cases reported in Prince Edward Island on Thursday.
In Manitoba, Premier Brian Pallister announced a plan to procure a made-in-Canada vaccine that is in early trial stages.
The province on Friday reported 81 new COVID-19 cases and four additional deaths. There are now 240 COVID-19 patients in hospital in Manitoba, the government said in a release, down by four from Thursday, with 29 of those people in intensive care, down by three.
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Saskatchewan reported 195 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths from the respiratory illness on Friday. There are currently 182 people in hospital due to COVID-19, 23 of whom are in intensive care.
In Alberta, health officials reported 314 new cases of COVID-19 and 16 more deaths on Friday.
British Columbia reported 445 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 additional deaths on Friday.
Ahead of the Family Day long weekend, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry repeated her plea for British Columbians to stay local and stick to their households, in accordance with public health orders and advice.
Across the North, Nunavut reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday in the community in Arviat, while health officials in the Northwest Territories reported one new case. There were no new cases reported in Yukon.
Here’s a look at what else is happening across Canada:
What’s happening around the world
As of Friday, more than 108 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 60.5 million of those cases listed as recovered or resolved in a database maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.3 million.
In Europe, Portugal is getting more help from its European Union partners to ease pressure on hospitals crunched by the pandemic, with France and Luxembourg the latest countries to offer medical workers.
The Portuguese health ministry said France is sending a doctor and three nurses, while Luxembourg is providing two doctors and two nurses. The health ministry said in a statement late Thursday the medics should arrive next week.
The German army sent eight doctors and 18 nurses earlier this month to help at a Lisbon hospital. The number of COVID-19 patients in hospital and in intensive care fell Thursday for the third straight day, but Portugal’s seven-day average of daily deaths remained the world’s highest, at 1.97 per 100,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins University.
In Germany, the health minister said he will consider introducing penalties for people who jump the queue for coronavirus vaccines. Jens Spahn told reporters in Berlin on Friday that there had been several such reports in recent days and the government would discuss with parliament “whether sanctions in this area could make sense.”
Spahn had previously downplayed the issue of queue jumping, but persistent reports have surfaced of senior officials in hospitals and cities getting the vaccines before doctors and nurses. This week the Catholic bishop of Augsburg acknowledged receiving the vaccine, despite being far down the priority list.
Patient rights campaigners warned Spahn last year that Germany’s complicated vaccination system could open the door to corruption and queue jumping, but the ministry rebuffed repeated calls for criminal penalties.
In Africa, South Africa has secured millions of doses of Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines to fight the highly infectious COVID-19 variant that is dominant in the country.
Kenya is going ahead with its plan to inoculate its citizens using AstraZeneca’s vaccine, while Zimbabwe has bought 600,000 shots from China’s Sinopharm, in addition to 200,000 China has donated.
In the Asia-Pacific region, the first batch of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Japan on Friday, local media reported, with official approval for the shots expected within days as the country races to control a third wave of infections ahead of the Olympic Games.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday the country’s COVID-19 inoculation program will likely begin on Feb. 20, brought forward by the earlier receipt of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine than originally anticipated.
Australia’s second-largest city will begin its third lockdown as a results of a rapidly spreading COVID-19 cluster centred on hotel quarantine.
The five-day lockdown will be enforced across Victoria state to prevent the virus spreading from the state capital Melbourne, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said. Only international flights that were already in the air when the lockdown was announced would be allowed to land at Melbourne Airport.
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A population of 6.5 million people will be locked down from 11:59 p.m. until the same time on Wednesday because of a contagious variant of the virus first detected at a Melbourne Airport hotel that has infected 13 people.
In the Americas, Mexico’s Health Ministry on Thursday reported 10,677 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,474 more fatalities from COVID-19, bringing the overall total to 1,968,566 cases and 171,234 deaths. The government said the real number of infected people and the death toll in Mexico are both likely significantly higher than reported levels.
In the Middle East, Israel began reopening its education system on Thursday after a more than six-week closure because of the surge in coronavirus infections.