The Latest: Federal vaccine site breaks from FL requirements
MIAMI — Hundreds of cars streamed bumper-to-bumper into a federally supported vaccination site that appeared to be offering shots to anyone who shows up, breaking from the eligibility requirements set by Gov. Ron DeSantis that was intended to be put seniors at the head of the line.
The availability of the vaccine to a wider population sowed confusion — and hope — among those wanting to protect themselves from a disease that has already infected more than 1.9 million Floridians and killed nearly 32,000.
State officials said they were sorting through the situation. It was unclear what authority state officials might be able to exert on federal facilities.
Already, federal sites in Florida are adhering to federally issued guidelines that allow teachers and other school workers to get vaccinated — instead of complying with the Florida governor’s directive that sets an age minimum of 50 for educators and school staff members.
Because of initially low demand, another federally funded vaccination site in Florida City last weekend began administering shots to any takers, regardless of age. News spread, and the site was inundated the following day, prompting officials there to reimpose age restrictions.
On Tuesday morning, a traffic jam of vehicles formed in a parking lot at Miami Dade College North and a long caravan of cars snaked down a nearby street. Rolls Royces, Bentleys and Porsches took their place in line among ordinary people arriving in their Toyotas, Chevrolets and Fords.
People waited hours to get the vaccine. By 10 a.m., officials at the vaccination site announced they had depleted their supply of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— AP-NORC poll: Many in US still face COVID-19 financial loss
— Russia to make Sputnik V vaccine in Italy, produce 10M doses in year
— Mexico to rely heavily on Chinese vaccines for total of 32 million doses
— Woman in Miami cooks roughly 1,000 meals a week since star t of the pandemic.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
SAN FRANCISCO -- California’s counties remain skittish over switching up their vaccine delivery systems to a new statewide one, with Santa Clara County saying it will not participate.
The Mercury News reports that County Executive Jeff Smith said late Monday that the county will not sign a contract giving Blue Shield control over COVID-19 vaccine distribution in California.
Some counties are also pushing for Newsom to reconsider a plan to distribute more vaccine to vulnerable areas.
The pushback to Newsom’s centralized plan for vaccine distribution comes as more of California reopens its economy and activities. Disney’s CEO says Disneyland will likely reopen by late April after a yearlong closure.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — With Alabama trailing most of the nation in COVID-19 vaccinations, National Guard troops will begin work later this month administering doses in at least 24 rural counties, the state said Tuesday.
The Alabama National Guard, with two 55-member mobile vaccination teams that can provide 8,000 doses a week in all, will work with public health and local officials to determine exact sites and logistics, Gov. Kay Ivey’s office said in a statement. Guard immunizations will start March 23.
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed 15.2% of Alabama’s 4.9 million residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine that protects against the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. That was lower than any state other than neighboring Georgia, where 13.4% had gotten at least one shot.
Guard teams will rotate through counties to provide shots to more people, the statement said. Ivey asked for patience since the state is still trying to get more vaccine from the federal government.
CASPER, Wyo. — County health officials in Wyoming have detected the coronavirus variant that originated in South Africa.
The Casper Star-Tribune reported Monday that the Teton County Health Department said a sample from a resident who tested positive for COVID-19 in January revealed the variant.
Health officials said the yet-unidentified person did not travel prior to becoming infected. State health officials have not announced any other cases of the variant.
County Health Officer Dr. Travis Riddell has encouraged residents to get coronavirus tests if they have symptoms or come in contact with someone who tested positive.
SEATTLE — Seattle officials say the start of in-person classes for some special-education students and preschoolers has been pushed back to March 29.
Seattle Public Schools had hoped to resume classroom learning for some students during the coronavirus pandemic this week. The new target date was announced Tuesday by the district and the teachers’ union.
The Seattle Times reports the announcement comes after intense opposition from the union to the district’s move to summon 700 educators back to buildings this week to teach students ahead of an agreement on expanding in-person instruction.
Those staffers were supposed to report to their buildings on Monday to ready their classrooms for learning, but a campaign by the union — the Seattle Education Association — asked them to stay remote.
The two parties are still working on an agreement to offer in-person services to around 10,000 students, including kindergartners and first-graders.
Seattle Public Schools is Washington state’s largest district, with about 50,000 students.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. is making an additional 900,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines available to states and pharmacy partners this week.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced that states and territories will receive 15.8 million doses of the two-shot vaccines, up from 15.2 million last week. Another 2.7 million doses will be distributed through the federal pharmacy program this week.
Last week, President Joe Biden directed the pharmacy program to prioritize teachers and childcare workers. Psaki says the U.S. is now delivering an average of 2.17 million doses per day.
There will be no shipments this week of the newly approved single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to manufacturing constraints. Those deliveries, which total 3.9 million doses so far, are set to resume as soon as next week. Another 16 million doses are expected to be shipped by the end of the month.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana is throwing open coronavirus vaccine eligibility to anyone 16 and older with pre-existing conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the widened access plans Tuesday on the one-year anniversary of Louisiana’s first confirmed coronavirus case.
The broader vaccine eligibility immediately sweeps hundreds of thousands additional people onto the access list.
The Democratic governor’s decision newly adds anyone age 16 to 54 if they have cancer, diabetes, asthma, sickle cell disease, chronic kidney disease, chronic pulmonary disease, Down syndrome, heart conditions or other health issues. Smokers and people who are overweight also are eligible.
PHOENIX — Arizona reported 563 confirmed coronavirus cases but no deaths for the second straight day.
The state’s pandemic total of confirmed cases increased to 827,800 while the total death toll dropped by two to 16,326. The state Department of Health Services attributed the decrease to a review of death certificates.
Related hospitalizations rose with 928 COVID-19 patients occupying inpatient beds on Monday, up from 919 on Sunday. It’s far below the pandemic high of 5,082 on Jan. 11.
The state’s rolling average of daily new cases dropped from 1,528 on Feb. 21 to 1,381 on Monday. The rolling average of daily deaths dropped from 75 to 58 during the same period, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project.
ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo says New York state will lower COVID-19 vaccine eligibility from 65 to 60 starting Wednesday.
The Democratic governor announced the change in an appearance at a vaccination site in Syracuse. In addition to people who qualify for vaccinations because of their age, vaccinations in New York are open to people with certain health conditions and to essential workers including teachers, health care providers and police officers.
Cuomo says New York will allow additional essential workers to receive the vaccine starting March 17. Newly eligible workers include public and not-for-profit employees who interact with the public. Public works employees, child service caseworkers, sanitation workers and building service workers are among the newly eligible workers.
About 18% of New Yorkers have at least one dose of a vaccine, in line with the national average, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
OMAHO, Neb. — Nebraska health officials have identified more cases of different variants of the coronavirus in the state. The state announced five cases of the variant first identified in the United Kingdom and 14 cases of a variant first identified in California have been confirmed.
Both of those variants of the virus are believed to be more easily transmitted. State officials say they expect to receive 82,430 doses of the vaccines this week. Last week, officials say 90,461 people across Nebraska were vaccinated.
WASHINGTON — The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has acquired the vial that contained the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine administered in the United States.
The museum announced the acquisition of the vial and other materials related to that first vaccine dose on Tuesday to mark the upcoming one-year anniversary of the pandemic on Thursday.
Associated Press journalists were given an exclusive backstage look at the newly obtained materials, including vials, special shipping equipment and the medical scrubs and ID badge of the New York City nurse who was America’s first coronavirus vaccine recipient.
New York-based health provider Northwell Health administered that first dose and donated the Pfizer vial.
ATHENS, Greece — Greek authorities have announced a new record high in daily COVID-19 infections for this year, and one of the highest figures since the beginning of the pandemic.
The 3,215 new confirmed infections Tuesday bring the total to nearly 210,000. Another 46 deaths were recorded, raising the overall confirmed death toll to just under 6,900.
About half the new infections were recorded in the greater Athens area, where hospital intensive care units for COVID-19 patients have reached 95% capacity.
SKOPJE, North Macedonia — Authorities in North Macedonia are imposing a nationwide two-week curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. to check a rapid spread of the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev says the curfew will be effective Wednesday. He also announced Tuesday a two-week mandatory quarantine for all visitors from Africa.
Authorities in the Balkan country of 2.1 million recorded last week a 60% increase in infections over the previous week. Hospitals are filling and most new patients have the U.K. variant.
Inoculations started three weeks ago from a batch of 4,680 doses of Pfizer vaccines donated by neighboring Serbia.
Over the weekend the first batch of 3,000 — out of a total 200,000 ordered — Russian Sputnik V vaccines arrived. On Monday, North Macedonia had recorded 107,000 confirmed cases and more than 3,200 deaths.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Roughly 4 in 10 Americans say they’re still feeling the financial impact of the loss of a job or income within their household as the economic recovery remains uneven one year into the coronavirus pandemic.
The new poll was conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The financial outcome often depended on the type of job a person had and their income level before the pandemic.
The pandemic has particularly hurt Black and Latino households, as well as young Americans, who are now going through their second major economic crisis of their adult lives.
The poll shows about half of Americans say they have experienced at least one form of household income loss during the pandemic, including 25% who have experienced a household layoff and 31% who say someone in the household was scheduled for fewer hours. Overall, 44% say their household experienced income loss from the pandemic that is still having an impact on their finances.
Thirty-eight percent of Hispanics and 29% of Black Americans have experienced a layoff in their household at some point during the past year, compared with 21% of white Americans.
Overall, about a quarter of Americans say they’ve been unable to pay one or more bills in the last month.
Some 745,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits the week of Feb. 22, according to the Labor Department. Nearly 18 million Americans remain on the unemployment rolls.
MINNEAPOLIS — Gov. Tim Walz announced Minnesota is expanding eligibility for the coronavirus vaccine after reaching its goal of inoculating at least 70% of people 65 and older.
The state will expand eligibility to the next two phases of Minnesotans. Walz says it includes people with underlying health conditions and those at a risk of workplace exposure, including about 45,000 people who work at food processing plants.
The next two phases include about 1.8 million individuals who can get their shots starting Wednesday.
They include Minnesotans with specific underlying health conditions such as sickle cell disease, Down syndrome, those in cancer treatment or immunocompromised from organ transplant and those who have oxygen-dependent chronic lung and heart conditions.
BUCHAREST, Romania — Health authorities in Romania announced the country’s first recorded cases of the Brazil coronavirus variant in Bucharest.
Authorities say the new variant, which scientists believe is more contagious, was detected in two men ages 38 and 57, who were symptomatic and have pre-existing medical conditions. One, authorities say, had no travel history.
The arrival of the Brazil variant, also known as the P.1 variant, comes days after the South African variant was first detected in the country and infections begin to sharply rise. Nearly 5,000 COVID-19 infections were recorded Tuesday, about double the average number of daily infections recorded last month.
The growing number of infections prompted authorities to impose on Monday new restrictions in the capital Bucharest, while the western city of Timisoara entered quarantine at the same time.
More than 835,000 people in the country of 19 million -- which administered more than 1.8 million vaccinations -- have tested positive for the coronavirus. More than 21,000 people have died.
MILAN — Russia has signed a deal to produce 10 million doses of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in Italy this year.
The deal was announced Tuesday by the Italian-Russian chamber of commerce. It was signed by Adienne Srl, the Italian subsidiary of a Swiss-based pharmaceutical company, with the Russian Direct Investment Fund.
The Italian-Russian chamber of commerce says Russian authorities are working on 20 similar collaborations across Europe and Sputnik V has been registered in 45 nations worldwide.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund that bankrolled the vaccine and markets it abroad has said the production of Sputnik V will span several countries, including India, South Korea, Brazil, China, Turkey, Iran, as well as Belarus and Kazakhstan. Some manufacturers abroad have produced trial batches of the Russian vaccine, but there are few indications they have so far produced any large amounts of the shot.
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — Bosnia has reported a huge rise in daily new infections with the coronavirus amid warnings that hospitals in the Balkan country are rapidly filling up.
Authorities on Tuesday reported 1,251 new infections in the past 24 hours, compared to 400 new cases reported on Monday and similar numbers over the weekend.
The surge has prompted authorities in the capital Sarajevo to announce the closure of all bars, restaurants and non-essential shops for the upcoming weekend. Dozens of owners of small businesses have protested the measure, demanding compensation.
Vaccination in Bosnia has been slow after shots through international COVAX program has been stalled. Bosnia has received 10,000 doses of Astra-Zeneca vaccines from Serbia, while the country’s Serb-dominated region has acquired Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines.
Bosnia confirmed another 48 deaths, raising the total to more than 5,000 coronavirus deaths in the country of 3.5 million.
BUDAPEST — Hungary set records Tuesday for the number of COVID-19 patients being treated in Hungarian hospitals amid a powerful surge in cases.
Nearly 350 people in Hungary were hospitalized with the virus in the last 24 hours, bringing the number of hospitalizations on Tuesday to 8,270, breaking the previous record of 8,045 set on Dec. 8. The number of patients on ventilators also set a new record with 833. Health care experts say it could soon reach the threshold of 1,000, the maximum number of critical patients the country’s health system can handle.
The total number of COVID-19 deaths in Hungary increased by 158 to more than 16,000, the most in a single day since before Christmas.
A new round of lockdown measures went into effect in Hungary on Monday requiring most shops to close for two weeks. Kindergartens and primary schools are closed until April 7.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg threatened to impose new nationwide coronavirus restrictions, including closing amusement parks and gyms and banning the sale of alcohol if an increase in new cases is not brought down.
“We still have a steep hill ahead of us,” says Solberg, calling “for one last effort. That we together go up this hill and hope that that this time we finally manage to reach the top.”
In an address to parliament, she urged citizens to stay home for the Easter break in early April.
She vowed Norway, which has had 74,940 cases and 632 coronvirus deaths, “will crack down on local outbreaks even faster. She said a year ago the Scandinavian country “introduced the most intrusive measures in peacetime.”
“If we succeed (now), there will be no need for new national measures. If we fail, we must tighten quickly," she said.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand has opened its first large vaccination clinic as it scales up efforts to protect people from the coronavirus.
The clinic in south Auckland will initially target household members of border workers. New Zealand has stamped out community spread of the virus and considers border workers and their families the most vulnerable to catching the disease from infectious travelers.
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield sai initially about 150 people a day will get vaccinated at the clinic, although the numbers will be rapidly increased. Health officials plan to open two more clinics in Auckland over the next few weeks.
“It doesn’t hurt, and it is important for everybody to get it,” said Denise Fogasavaii, the sister of an Air New Zealand employee who has already been vaccinated.
New Zealand plans to use the Pfizer vaccine for all inoculations and hopes to complete its vaccination program this year.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- New Mexico is clearing the way for schools to reopen next month as vaccine eligibility is expanding to include shots for all teachers and other educators.
State education officials announced Monday that five-day a week in-class programs would be open to those who want them. Districts also will be required to provide virtual learning options for students who opt out.
As part of the vaccination effort, the state plans to get teachers their first shots by the end of March.
The state is making the move as part of a directive by the Biden administration. State officials have acknowledged that meeting the goal depends on the federal government increasing vaccine shipments.