The Washington Department of Health announced Saturday that the B.1.1.7 variant, which first emerged in the United Kingdom last September, has been confirmed by DNA sequencing in two cases in Snohomish County. Those are the first confirmed cases in Washington.
The Oregon Health Authority confirmed a second case, in someone from Yamhill County, a week after the first case was detected in Multnomah County.
Conditions for Shanghai Residents Rapidly Worsen
Thousands of residents in downtown Shanghai are being relocated to hotels in emergency isolation measures after local authorities said hospital workers and patients in the city center had tested positive for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Surrounding areas have also been locked down, with residents facing rapidly worsening conditions as the government attempts to halt the spread of the virus.
New Zealand Reports 1st Community Case in Months
New Zealand has reported its first virus case outside of a quarantine facility in more than two months, although there was no immediate evidence the virus was spreading in the community.
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said Sunday the case was a 56-year-old woman who recently returned from Europe.
New Mexico Reports 38 New Deaths
New Mexico on Saturday reported 859 additional virus cases and 38 more deaths. That increases the state’s pandemic totals to 168,579 cases and 3,115 deaths.
Most of the additional deaths involved older New Mexicans, but they also included several people in their 20s and 30s.
University of Michigan Pauses Athletics
The entire University of Michigan athletic department is pausing after several positive tests for the new COVID-19 variant that transmits at a higher rate. The entire department could be in quarantine for two weeks.
NIH Director Warns South African Variant More Concerning Than UK
The United States is closely watching the more infectious UK variant of COVID-19 after British officials warned that it may also be more deadly, U.S. National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins said on Saturday.
But U.S. health officials are somewhat more worried about a separate variant from South Africa, although that one has not yet been identified among U.S. cases of the CCP virus.
Biden: ‘Nothing We Can Do’ to Change Trajectory of Pandemic in Next Months
The U.S. government can’t do anything to change the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic in the coming months, President Joe Biden claimed on Friday.
Biden, speaking a day after he released a national COVID-19 strategy, outlined why he’s pushing for a fresh relief bill. He said a briefing from his economic team showed that the public health crisis caused by COVID-19 “is not getting better; it’s deepening,” citing the latest wave of unemployment filings and the rise in the number of daily new cases.
Top Lebanese Hospitals Fight Exhausting Battle
Death stalks the corridors of Beirut’s Rafik Hariri University Hospital, where losing multiple patients in one day to the CCP virus has become the new normal. In recent weeks, Lebanon has seen a dramatic increase in virus cases, following the holiday season when restrictions were eased and thousands of expatriates flew home for a visit.
Now, hospitals across the country are almost completely out of beds. Oxygen tanks, ventilators, and most critically, medical staff, are in extremely short supply. Doctors and nurses say they are exhausted. Facing burnout, many of their colleagues left.
UK Could Tighten Travel Restrictions
UK lawmakers are to discuss on Monday further tightening travel restrictions, and people arriving in the country could be required to quarantine in hotels, according to the BBC.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a news conference on Friday that the UK may need to implement further measures to protect its borders from new variants of the CCP virus. The country’s current restrictions ban most international travel while new rules introduced in earlier January require a negative CCP virus test before departure for most people arriving, as well as a period of quarantine.
Hong Kong Locks Down Thousands for Compulsory Testing
Hong Kong’s government locked down an area of Kowloon peninsula on Saturday after an outbreak of the CCP virus, saying 10,000 residents must stay home until they have been tested and the results largely determined.
The first such measure the city has taken since the pandemic began occurred in the densely populated neighborhoods of Jordan that are home to many aging, subdivided flats in which the virus could spread more easily. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said 50 makeshift testing points had been set up and 3,000 civil servants were assisting.
CDC Extends Time Between Vaccine Doses for ‘Exceptional’ Cases
Doses of the new CCP virus vaccines can be spaced apart as long as six weeks in some cases, the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) said in new guidance on Friday.
Both authorized vaccines require two doses. Patients typically get the second dose three weeks or a month after the first. Concern is growing about the availability of doses because the Biden administration greenlit the release of nearly all doses the government is receiving, instead of holding back some to ensure that people who got one shot can get another in the recommended time period. The policy started late in the Trump administration.
New Variant Identified in Portugal
Portugal’s medical agency says it has identified the first case in the country of the new CCP virus variant believed to have originated in South Africa.
The agency says the new variant was found in a South African resident of Lisbon. Medical authorities have already suggested a massive surge in infections is from the spread of a variant identified in southeast England.
Grassley Warns Biden: Don’t Exploit Pandemic to Push Big Government Takeover of Economy
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in a statement issued on Friday warned President Joe Biden not to exploit the pandemic to push a laundry list of liberal causes in his newly proposed relief package, characterizing the president’s bid as “a big government takeover of the U.S. economy.”
Biden became president this week with Congress already having approved $4 trillion in pandemic-related aid, including $900 billion just last month. His new proposal for another $1.9 trillion economic package has resulted in mounting skepticism among Republicans, particularly conservatives who are panning the new proposal as an expensive, unworkable liberal wish-list.
Pfizer Shipping Fewer Vaccine Vials to US After Finding Extra Doses
Pfizer said Friday it will be shipping fewer CCP virus vaccine vials after finding an extra dose in each vial. Each vial contains a certain number of doses. When vaccine administration began late last year, health personnel were told that each vial held five doses. They’re now being told that each vial contains six doses, according to documents from the Food and Drug Administration, though labels on the vials may state that only five doses are in a vial.
Marion Gruber, director of the administration’s Office of Vaccines Research and Review, said in a letter to Pfizer earlier this month that the FDA concurred with Pfizer “that there are six 0.3 mL doses in a vial of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID‑19 Vaccine.”
Tom Ozimek, Zachary Stieber, Reuters, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times