The Latest: New Mexico sees its most new cases in weeks
SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico health officials on Friday confirmed an additional 659 COVID-19 infections, the highest daily case count in more than three weeks.
Nearly 30% of the new cases involved state inmates.
Officials earlier this week expressed optimism about downward trends in the overall spread of the virus, with all of the state’s counties reporting positivity rates below 10%. However, they acknowledged that the seven-day rolling average of daily cases remained above targets.
In all, New Mexico has reported nearly 185,000 cases since the pandemic began. The death toll stands at 3,685, with more than a dozen deaths reported Friday.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— U.S. House passes $1.9 trillion pandemic bill on near party-line vote
— Experts notice pandemic’s mental health toll on German youth
— Top U.S. diplomat ‘visits’ Mexico, Canada on virtual trip
— U.S. Supreme Court tells Santa Clara it can’t bar in-person worship
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
OHAKUNE, New Zealand — New Zealand’s largest city of Auckland is going back into a seven-day lockdown after a new unexplained coronavirus case was found.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement Saturday evening after an urgent meeting with top lawmakers in the Cabinet. She said the lockdown would take effect from Sunday morning.
Auckland earlier this month was placed into a three-day lockdown after new cases of the more contagious variant first found in Britain were found.
New Zealand has pursued a zero-tolerance elimination strategy with the virus, and had successfully stamped out community spread before the latest cases were found this month.
Ardern said the latest patient had experienced symptoms since earlier in the week and could have infected others.
The rest of New Zealand will also have increased restrictions.
HONG KONG — Over 500,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in Hong Kong on Saturday following a two-day delay due to export procedures, offering a second inoculation option for the city.
The Pfizer-BioNTech shots will be offered to about 2.4 million eligible residents from priority groups such as those aged 60 and above and health care workers.
About 70,000 residents who have registered for the vaccination program, which kicked off on Friday, will receive the shots developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical firm Sinovac. The Sinovac vaccines were the first to arrive last week.
Registration details for those wishing to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech shots haven’t been announced yet.
Hong Kong has struck deals for a total of 22.5 million doses, with 7.5 million each from Sinovac, AstraZeneca and Fosun Pharma, which is delivering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. The government has so far approved the Sinovac and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s Disease Control and Prevention Agency is allowing health workers to squeeze extra doses from vials of coronavirus vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Pfizer.
The decision on Saturday came after some health workers who were administering the AstraZeneca shots reported to authorities that they still saw additional doses left in the bottles that had each been used for 10 injections.
KDCA official Jeong Gyeong-shil said skilled workers may be able to squeeze one or two extra doses from each vial if they use low dead-volume syringes designed to reduce wasted medications and vaccines.
However, she said the KDCA isn’t allowing health workers from combining vaccines left in different bottles to create more doses.
The KDCA had previously authorized 10 injections for each AstraZeneca vial and six for each Pfizer vial.
South Korea, which launched its public vaccination campaign on Friday, is administering the AstraZeneca shots to residents and workers at long-term care facilities and the Pfizer ones to front-line medical workers.
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation has continued on a downward trend in the number of daily coronavirus cases.
Tribal health officials on Friday reported 23 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths. The latest numbers bring the total to 29,710 cases since the pandemic began. The death toll is 1,165.
A curfew remains in effect for residents on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah to prevent the spread of the virus.
SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea has reported another new 405 cases of the coronavirus as it began vaccinating tens of thousands of workers at frontline hospitals in the second day of its mass immunization program.
The daily increase reported by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Saturday brought the national caseload to 89,321, including 1,595 deaths.
Most of the new cases came from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, which was hit hardest by a devastating winter surge that erased months of hard-won epidemiological gain and sparked public criticism about the country’s vaccine rollout that has been slower than many nations in the West.
The government had insisted it could maintain a wait-and-see approach as its outbreak still wasn’t as dire as in the United States or Europe.
The KCDC said 18,489 residents and workers at long-term care facilities received their first injections of two dose vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University during the first day of public vaccinations on Friday.
RENO, Nev. — The average number of new daily cases reported in Nevada over the past two weeks has fallen to its lowest level since mid-September and dropped by nearly 90% since a peak of more than 2,700 a day in mid-December.
The 314 new daily cases reported on average over the previous 14 days is the lowest since an average of 312 were reported on Sept. 16, state health officials said Friday.
That’s down from a peak of 2,716 reported on Dec. 11. The daily average dropped below 2,000 in mid-January and has steadily declined ever since.
The state’s positivity rate also has dropped to 8.3%, the lowest since 8.2% on Oct. 19. The rate is based on a 14-day rolling average with a seven-day lag. It peaked at 21.6% on Jan. 13.
DENVER -- Colorado Gov. Jared Polis says anyone 60 and older will be eligible to receive a vaccine for the coronavirus beginning March 5 followed by those 50 and older toward the end of the month.
The governor said Friday the state has already administered nearly 883,000 first doses of the vaccine and more than 423,000 second doses.
An increase in vaccine supply is expected in the coming weeks as pharmaceutical companies ramp up production.
More than 424,000 people in the state have tested positive and nearly 6,000 have died from the virus since it started its rapid spread last spring, and Polis warned Friday to stay vigilant.
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Gov. Ned Lamont said Friday that Connecticut still has “a long way to go” to improve COVID-19 vaccination rates among Black and Hispanic residents, as new data show whites are getting inoculated at higher rates.
Lamont appeared with Black clergy members at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport to try to convince people the vaccines are safe and effective. Several church leaders received vaccinations Friday.
“We have a long way to go,” the Democratic governor said. “We’re doing better than we did two weeks ago, but not good enough.”
New data released by the state Thursday shows 39% of white state residents ages 65 and older have received the first of two shots of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, compared with 21% of Black residents and 27% of Hispanic citizens 65 and older.
SACRAMENTO, Calif: Gov. Gavin Newsom expects California to start administering the new Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine next week.
At a Fresno news conference Friday, Newsom said the Biden administration plans to send California more than 1.1 million of the single-dose shots in the next three weeks.
The vaccine, still in the final federal approval process, has fewer handling restrictions than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines now being used.
Those vaccines require two doses to be fully effective and must be stored at extremely low temperatures.
Addition of the J&J vaccine would come as California is seeing dramatic drops in virus cases and hospitalizations after record highs in early January.