Live Covid-19 Updates: Biden Receives Vaccines, Outbreaks Across US

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Relatives mourned Gilberto Arreguin, 58, who died from complications of Covid-19 in Whittier, Calif., last month.
Credit…Alex Welsh for The New York Times

Whatever else the dawn of 2021 has brought, it has not slowed the relentless mounting of the pandemic’s toll in the United States. The nation’s seven-day average of coronavirus-related deaths has broken past 3,000 a day, reaching 3,249 on Sunday. And the cumulative total of virus deaths surpassed 375,000 on Monday, according to a New York Times database.

California alone reported more than 3,300 virus deaths in the week ended Sunday. No state except New York has recorded more than that in a single week.

The dire statistics follow a surge in new cases and hospitalizations that has extended to every part of the country. On average, 254,866 new cases a day have been reported over the past week, 38 percent more than two weeks earlier. As of Monday morning, a total of more than 22.4 million people in the United States have tested positive.

Health care facilities that have been scrambling to treat patients are also struggling to vaccinate people, amid widespread frustration and confusion across the country. With states and counties left largely to sort out the logistics by themselves, the vaccination program has gone anything but smoothly.

As of Monday, nearly nine million people had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, far short of the federal goal of 20 million people or more by Dec. 31.

The federal government said Friday that it had delivered more than 22.1 million vaccine doses to states, territories and federal agencies. The same day, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. said he would release nearly all available doses of the vaccine to states as soon as he is inaugurated. Federal officials have been holding back millions of vials to ensure that second doses will be available to those who received the first.

States have also begun broadening access to the shots faster than planned, amid tremendous public demand. Some states, including New York, Florida, Louisiana and Texas, have already expanded who is eligible to get a vaccine now, even though many people in the first priority group recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — the nation’s 21 million health care workers and three million residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities — have yet to receive a shot.

Mr. Biden received his own second injection on Monday. His team said he would invoke the Defense Production Act if necessary to ensure that second doses can be given on schedule.

“My number-one priority is getting vaccine into people’s arms,” Mr. Biden said after taking a quick needle jab. The President-elect said he and his advisers are finalizing a plan to accelerate mass vaccinations nationwide that he will release on Thursday.

“Three to four thousand people dying a day is just beyond the pale,” he said.

Mr. Biden lamented that mask-wearing continues to be a politically divisive issue, and said he was “appalled” to hear that, during last week’s storming of the U.S. Capitol, some Republican House members refused pleas from a Democratic colleague to don masks while they were crowded together in a secure protective location.

A patient arrived at Community Hospital of Huntington Park in Los Angeles on Sunday night. The region’s hospitals have been straining to cope with a flood of patients.
Credit…Alex Welsh for The New York Times

In earlier stages of the pandemic, the states with the most coronavirus cases often bordered one another. Major outbreaks were concentrated in geographic regions of the United States: the Northeast in the spring, the Sun Belt over the summer and the country’s midsection in the fall.

Now, the five worst-hit states are scattered around the country: Arizona, California, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and South Carolina are averaging the most daily new cases per person, according to a New York Times database.

One threat they have in common is the post-holiday surge of the virus that has thrust the United States into its darkest days of the pandemic, with cases rising in nearly every state. The country reported 300,594 new cases on Friday and more than 4,100 deaths on Thursday, both single-day records. In total, more than 374,000 have died from Covid-19 in the United States.

The emergence of more contagious variants has added urgency to the country’s vaccine rollout, which has gotten off to a slow start.

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In November, most of the worst-affected states were in the Upper Midwest and Mountain West. Wisconsin had been a focus for its startling positivity rates — over 30 percent at one point — and its field hospitals reopening. As soon as those cases started to decline, states like Indiana, Kansas and Rhode Island had surges.

“It never really dropped,” said Dr. Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “We transferred risk from one area to another.”

He believes people restrict their socializing habits when they experience an outbreak and then relax them when the numbers go down, leading to new surges.

Here’s a snapshot of how the five worst-off states are grappling with the virus:

  • Arizona, for the second time, is shattering its records and reporting more new cases each day per capita than any other state. Nearly 5,000 Arizonans were hospitalized with the virus as of Sunday — more than in July, the state’s previous peak. Vaccines are being administered at among the lowest rates in the country.

  • California’s devastating surge is concentrated in the southern part of the state, where emergency rooms have had to shut their doors to ambulances for hours at a time. Nearly one in 10 people have tested positive for the virus in Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous. The surge of hospitalizations has caused problems for the oxygen delivery and supply system used by medical facilities.

  • In Oklahoma, daily caseloads have increased 40 percent in the past two weeks. Overstretched hospitals have put patients in hallways and converted conference rooms into treatment areas, The Tulsa World reported. The state’s online vaccine portal, to avoid crashing, took up to 48 hours to send emails confirming registrations, causing confusion for many.

  • Rhode Island, which aggressively handled its spring surge, has the worst outbreak of any Northeastern state. After the start of the school year in early September, case numbers began climbing steadily and have not slowed. It had a seven-day average of 130 cases per 100,000 people, the highest per capita rate in the country. One factor, experts say, is the state’s population, which is poorer, older and more densely packed than its neighbors’.

  • South Carolina has more than doubled its average cases over the past two weeks. More than 30 percent of coronavirus tests given over the past week were positive, according to state data, and five counties reported their hospitals’ acute care beds were full, The Post and Courier reported. The state ranks among the nation’s lowest in its vaccine administration rate, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data compiled by The State, with many health care workers hesitant to get inoculated.

Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey at a hearing on Capitol Hill in 2019.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday — an infection she believes is linked to the time she spent in a secure location with colleagues who refused to wear masks during Wednesday’s siege of the U.S. Capitol.

“It angers me when they refuse to adhere to the directions about keeping their masks on,” Ms. Watson Coleman, a Democrat, said in an interview. “It comes off to me as arrogance and defiance. And you can be both, but not at the expense of someone else.”

On Sunday, Republican Representative Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee, who was also in protective isolation, announced that he had tested positive for the virus after being exposed to his roommate, Gus Bilirakis of Florida, a Republican.

Mr. Fleischmann told local news station WRCB that he was notified Wednesday that his roommate had tested positive, but did not receive the notification because he was locked down in a secure location amid the riots. He said he did not know how many other lawmakers he had come in contact with.

Mr. Fleischmann and another lawmaker who tested positive, Representative Jake LaTurner of Kansas, both were at the Capitol Wednesday to object to the certification of the electoral vote.

Ms. Watson Coleman said she and her husband, William Coleman, took a rapid antigen test on Monday. Her husband tested negative for the virus, she said. Ms. Watson Coleman is now isolating and awaiting the results of a more accurate laboratory P.C.R. test. She began to feel symptomatic within the last 24 hours, and is experiencing “mild, cold-like symptoms,” including a cough and a raspy sore throat.

Most antigen tests are thought to perform best when used by people who recently started experiencing symptoms.

Ms. Watson Coleman, a lung cancer survivor who will turn 76 next month, has represented the 12th Congressional District, a district north of Trenton that cuts across four central New Jersey counties, since 2015. She had gotten one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on Dec. 29.

“I want people to know that this is very serious and that our exposure is because of people who don’t care about anybody else and are ignoring science and acting out of an abundance of stupidity,” she said.

Illnesses identified before someone has completed their full Covid-19 vaccination schedule should not cause concern, experts said.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been authorized as a two-dose vaccine, with the second shot administered about three weeks after the first. While some protection appears to kick in after the first injection, it takes the body at least a week or two to develop a measurable immune response to the virus after its first exposure to the vaccine. The second shot clinches the protective process.

If Ms. Watson Coleman was indeed exposed to the virus just a week after her first injection, she was likely about as vulnerable to it as she was before the shot.

On Sunday, Congress’s Office of the Attending Physician said that House lawmakers may have been exposed to someone who was infected with the coronavirus while they were sheltering in a secure location as a mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the Capitol last week.

In an email sent to lawmakers, Dr. Brian P. Monahan, the attending physician, said that while “the time in this room was several hours for some and briefer for others,” during that period, “individuals may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection.” He told lawmakers to obtain a P.C.R. test as a precaution and continue taking preventive steps against the spread of the virus.

Outside Grubb’s Pharmacy on Capitol Hill, workers in a temporary building offered rapid Covid-19 testing last month. 
Credit…Shawn Thew/EPA, via Shutterstock

While Mayor Muriel E. Bowser of Washington, D.C., was grappling with the riot that tore through the Capitol last week, another crisis was slowly unfolding in the district: a surge of coronavirus cases.

Washington has been averaging 290 new coronavirus cases a day over the past week, its highest figure for any seven-day stretch of the pandemic. The rest of the Mid-Atlantic region, including Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, is also surging: All three states set weekly case records on Sunday.

At a news conference on Monday, Ms. Bowser urged residents to be vigilant against the virus, noting that the district’s hospitals are being strained by coronavirus patients and that the rate of positive virus test results was worryingly high.

“We remain concerned — as the rest of the country remains concerned — about the increase in cases,” the mayor said.

Starting on Monday, Ms. Bowser said, any resident who is 65 or older can make an appointment to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. The policy follows those of a number of states that have lowered the age threshold from 75, where the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention had recommended it be set for early rounds of vaccinations.

After a surge last spring, Washington managed to keep its case numbers relatively low through the summer and into the fall. When October began, the district was averaging fewer than 40 new cases a day.

But the situation has worsened steadily since then. Case numbers rose steeply over a two-month stretch, reaching a peak in early December. Though case counts ebbed a bit in the days before Christmas, that progress has been undone in the first days of 2021.

It is too soon to know whether the influx of demonstrators last week and the deadly rampage at the Capitol on Wednesday led to a spike in coronavirus infections, either in Washington or in the home states of those who poured into the city.

One lawmaker who has since tested positive, Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, said on Monday that she believes she was exposed while taking shelter in a Capitol room with other lawmakers who ignored instructions to wear masks.

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Adrienne Thomas, left, and Irene Barrera, right set up their computers and materials for their virtual classes outside Suder Montessori Magnet Elementary School in Chicago in solidarity with pre-K educators who returned to the building on Monday.
Credit…Anthony Vazquez/Chicago Sun-Times, via Associated Press

Across the country, many big cities like New York have struggled to resume even limited in-person instruction, while several, including Los Angeles, have simply given up on the idea, choosing to stick with all-remote education into the spring.

Few places have seen as much acrimony over the issue as Chicago, whose public school system is the nation’s third-largest.

The city reopened its public schools on Monday for the first time since March, resuming in-person instruction for 6,000 prekindergarten and special education students. But it did so in the face of fierce resistance from its teachers’ union.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago has argued that giving parents the option of sending their children to school in person is critical to preventing some of the city’s mostly poor and Black and Latino students from falling permanently behind.

But the teachers’ union says it is not safe to do so while the coronavirus is surging. Union leaders continued to denounce the reopening plan at an early morning news conference Monday outside an elementary school.

As the school system prepared last week for the reopening, less than 60 percent of the roughly 2,000 teachers who were expected to return to their buildings showed up for work, raising concerns that many teachers would stay away again this week.

Janice K. Jackson, the chief executive of the school system, which serves about 350,000 students, said on Monday that the majority of teachers were “doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing.”

Specific figures were not immediately available about how many teachers reported to work in person on Monday. Dr. Jackson said the district would release the figures later this week. She had warned the teachers on Friday that any who stayed home without permission would not be paid.

“This is probably the most contentious and unpleasant reopening in terms of how the different sides are interacting with each other,” said Emily Oster, an economics professor at Brown who has collected data on coronavirus cases in schools and has argued that reopening schools is safe under many circumstances.

In other developments around the United States:

  • While sheltering in a secure location as a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, House lawmakers may have been exposed to someone who was infected with the coronavirus, according to the Office of the Attending Physician. In an email to lawmakers on Sunday, the attending physician to Congress, Dr. Brian P. Monahan, urged them to obtain a P.C.R. test as a precaution and to continue taking preventive steps against the spread of the virus.

  • Five new coronavirus vaccination centers opened in New York, in the latest effort to accelerate the sluggish pace that has dogged the rollout in the city. Two sites are mass vaccination centers that, starting Monday, will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to the city Department of Health.

  • Delays were reported at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport after an air traffic control center that serves the area reported a coronavirus infection and closed for cleaning on Sunday, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

A lab in Bogor, Indonesia, that analyzed the Sinovac vaccine last month. The Indonesian trial found a lower efficacy rate compared with trials in Brazil and Turkey.
Credit…Ulet Ifansasti for The New York Times

Indonesia on Monday authorized emergency use of a Covid-19 vaccine made by a private Chinese company after late-stage clinical data reaffirmed that the shot is effective, clearing the way for a mass vaccination program to begin in the country.

At a news conference, Indonesia’s Food and Drug Administration said it had endorsed the vaccine developed by Sinovac, a Beijing-based vaccine maker, after its interim analysis showed that the inoculation had an efficacy rate of 65.3 percent.

Jarir At Thobari, a representative for the National Committee for Drug Assessment, said the efficacy rate of CoronaVac, the name of the Sinovac vaccine, was lower compared with the recent announcements from Sinovac’s trials in Brazil and Turkey because the Indonesia trial was made up of members of the general public, compared with the volunteers in Brazil and Turkey, who were health care workers or from high-risk groups. A higher number of people who are infected would bring the efficacy rates higher, Dr. At Thobari said.

Prof. Kusnandi Rusmil, head of the Covid-19 vaccine research team at Padjadjaran University, which is running the Phase 3 trials, said that of the 25 people who got Covid-19 during the trial, seven were vaccinated and 18 were in the placebo group.

Brazilian officials said last week that CoronaVac had an efficacy rate of 78 percent. Turkish officials said earlier that the vaccine had an efficacy rate of 91.25 percent, though it was based on preliminary results from a small clinical trial.

Inoculations are set to begin in the coming weeks with health workers, soldiers and police officers. Indonesia has recorded nearly 840,000 coronavirus cases and more than 24,000 deaths. It hopes to achieve herd immunity by vaccinating roughly two-thirds of the population in just over a year.

Indonesia has ordered vaccines from several companies, but plans to rely mostly on Sinovac, which has already delivered three million doses.

Separately, the Philippines said on Monday that it had secured 25 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine, with the first 50,000 doses set to arrive by February. The Philippine Department of Health has been accused of botching an earlier opportunity to secure 10 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as early as this month.

And in the Seychelles, an archipelago nation in the Indian Ocean about 1,000 miles east of Kenya, the government said in a statement released on Sunday that the country’s vaccination campaign had begun with President Wavel Ramkalawan, who received the Sinopharm vaccine. The United Arab Emirates, which last month became the first country to authorize a Chinese coronavirus vaccine, has donated 50,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine to the Seychelles, the statement said, while India has offered 100,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. According to the Ministry of Health, the Seychelles has recorded 531 coronavirus cases and one death.

A medical worker filling a syringe with the Sputnik V vaccine as she prepares to vaccinate a Russian Army service member at a clinic in Rostov-On-Don, Russia, last month.
Credit…Sergey Pivovarov/Reuters

The Palestinian Authority has given emergency authorization to Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine, Health Minister Mai al-Kaila announced on Monday.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund, which financed Sputnik V, said that a first batch of doses was expected to be delivered to the Palestinians in February. The organization did not say how many doses would be sent.

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip have not received any significant shipment of vaccines yet. In her statement, Ms. al-Kaila said that health workers would be inoculated first when a vaccine shipment arrives.

It was not clear whether a major Sputnik V shipment would be the first to reach the territories. Ali Abed Rabbo, a senior Health Ministry official, said last week that the Palestinians hoped to receive two million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in February. Health officials now say they expect those doses to arrive in March.

The Palestinian Authority asked Israel in late December to provide it with up to 10,000 doses of vaccine to inoculate frontline medical workers, but the Israelis turned down the request, according to Hussein al-Sheikh, the top Palestinian official in charge of coordinating with Israel.

Israeli officials have said that vaccinating Palestinians was not their obligation or responsibility. The Palestinian Authority’s foreign ministry and human rights groups argue that international law obligates Israel to give doses to Palestinians living under occupation. Israeli officials have signaled that they may send doses to the Palestinian Authority once their own vaccination campaign is complete.

Israel has administered enough vaccines for 20 percent of its population so far, the highest proportion of any country, according to the research site Our World in Data, which is based at the University of Oxford.

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‘We Have Work to Do’: More New Yorkers Receive Vaccine

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York announced on Monday that the city has begun administering coronavirus vaccines to residents aged 75 and older as well as a wider range of essential workers.

We fought hard for the freedom to vaccinate. Now we have it. Starting today, we can reach New Yorkers over 75 years old, the most vulnerable people, our seniors, our elders, we can reach them today. And we can reach so many of the people who serve us — our first responders, our essential workers. It’s a very exciting moment, a very important moment. A lot of work to do now. We’ve gotten the freedom. Now we have work to do to reach each and every person ready to get vaccinated. We have more and more sites opening up, including our 24/7 sites. And this is very exciting because there’s a lot of people ready to get the vaccine, literally all hours of the day, and we’ll be able to accommodate them in all five boroughs. For the week starting today, the goal is 175,000 New Yorkers — 175,000 doses given this week. We feel very good about that goal. We feel very good about our goal to vaccinate a million people in the course of the month of January.

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Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York announced on Monday that the city has begun administering coronavirus vaccines to residents aged 75 and older as well as a wider range of essential workers.CreditCredit…David ‘Dee’ Delgado/Reuters

New York on Monday began giving vaccines to residents aged 75 and older as well as a wider range of essential workers, as state health officials expanded the group of people eligible to receive the vaccine.

The updated inoculation guidelines came last week after days of pressure from Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City and an outcry over medical providers having to throw out vaccine doses because of challenges finding patients who precisely matched the state’s strict vaccination guidelines.

“We fought hard for the freedom to vaccinate,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference on Monday. “Now we have it.”

Among the essential workers now permitted to receive the vaccine statewide are police officers, firefighters, teachers and school administrators, public transit workers, public-facing grocery store workers and people living or working in homeless shelters who sleep or eat alongside others outside their household.

Mr. de Blasio said that 55,000 people had already scheduled appointments to be vaccinated at city-run sites. Overnight appointments between midnight and 4 a.m. were fully booked, he added.

In a television interview, the city’s police commissioner, Dermot F. Shea, said that 400 police officers received a dose of the vaccine in the first hour of the department’s vaccination efforts.

City health officials planned to push particularly hard to inoculate older New Yorkers, who are at higher risk of severe illness from the virus. To assist in this effort, the city set up a new website and phone system (1-877-VAX4-NYC) to help connect people with appointments. But Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has warned that the eligibility expansion would move slowly and that it could take until mid-April to fully vaccinate the current groups, which total about five million New Yorkers statewide.

The city has also pushed in recent days to accelerate the pace of vaccinations. Mr. de Blasio said 101,799 doses were given last week, higher than the goal of 100,000 he had previously set.

This week, city health officials aimed to see 175,000 doses of the vaccine administered. Dave Chokshi, the city’s health commissioner, said the city had 230,000 doses on hand and expected another 100,000 delivered this week.

On Saturday, state health officials abruptly loosened guidelines, allowing medical providers to administer the vaccine to any employees who interact with the public if there are extra doses in a vial and no one from “the priority population can come in before the doses expire,” the new guidelines read. A pharmacy’s “store clerks, cashiers, stock workers and delivery staff” could qualify, the guidelines said.

The new, more forgiving guidelines highlight the difficulties the state has had in balancing the need to vaccinate vulnerable populations quickly with the imperative to prevent fraud and favoritism in the distribution process.

On Monday, Mr. Cuomo said during his annual State of the State address that vaccinating the majority of New Yorkers would be one of the state’s priorities this year.

To help do so, the state will recruit 1,000 fellows for a New York State Public Health Corps that will facilitate vaccination efforts. Mr. Cuomo also announced a program to train 100,000 New Yorkers as health care emergency volunteers and vowed to provide incentives for the manufacturing of medical supplies in New York to diminish the reliance on China.

In New York, 605,677 doses of the vaccine have been administered as of mid-Monday afternoon, including 94,308 in long-term care facilities, Mr. Cuomo said on Twitter.

A medical worker preparing a dose of the Sputnik V vaccine in Moscow last month.
Credit…Pavel Golovkin/Associated Press

Russian vaccine scientists on Monday began a study to determine whether they can hasten the country’s campaign of coronavirus inoculations by providing only a single dose of its normally two-dose vaccine.

The idea, also under consideration in Britain and other countries, is that a single dose could provide more than half of the protection offered by a two-dose vaccine. While each vaccinated person would be less protected than if they had undergone the full inoculation cycle, the approach could potentially save more lives in the population as a whole.

Russia’s vaccine, called Sputnik V, uses two types of genetically modified human adenoviruses, which are common cold viruses. The new approach would administer only a single type of the cold virus in one shot, the group that developed the vaccine, the Gamaleya Research Institute, said on Monday.

The institute, part of the Russian Ministry of Health, will study the single-dose approach, called Sputnik Light, in 150 volunteers in Moscow and St. Petersburg. It was not clear when it hoped for results or when Russia might decide whether to switch tack to a single-dose strategy.

The institute’s director, Aleksandr Gintsburg, said in December that the single shot was likely to prove about 85 percent effective but would vary for different categories of patients. The two-shot regime showed an efficacy rate of 91.4 in clinical trials. President Vladimir V. Putin suggested the new tactic in December.

In the United States, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. plans to end the practice of reserving the second shots of two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for those who have received a first shot. His administration would instead distribute nearly all available vials immediately.

But Biden officials do not intend to forgo the second shot; vaccine production, they have said, is expected to ramp up to meet demand for second shots. The Food and Drug Administration has recommended against tweaking the dosage schedules, which have been carefully studied in clinical trials.

world ROUNDUP

The Harbin Ice and Snow Festival normally draws millions of visitors each year.
Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

China is experiencing its worst coronavirus flare-up in months, but that hasn’t stopped an ice and snow festival from going ahead as planned in the northeastern city of Harbin.

The annual festival, which is the largest of its kind in the world and normally draws millions of visitors, features colossal snow and ice structures that are elaborately carved over weeks by hundreds of workers and illuminated by colored LED lights. Last year, the festival shut down early after the central government imposed a strict lockdown on millions of people in Hubei Province, the central region where the coronavirus is believed to have originated. Harbin, a city of 10 million people near the Russian border, experienced its own outbreak last spring.

Though life in most parts of China has largely returned to normal, a recent outbreak in the northern province of Hebei has led the government to impose a stay-at-home order on more than 17 million people in two cities there. On Monday, officials reported 85 new locally transmitted infections, mostly in Hebei.

That announcement came one year to the day after Chinese state media reported the first known death from the coronavirus in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province. Since then, the virus has claimed the lives of more than 1.9 million people worldwide, according to a New York Times database. China’s official death toll is 4,634.

The winter festival in Harbin, which opened last month, is a popular destination during the Lunar New Year holiday, China’s busiest travel period. With the country’s borders closed to foreign tourists, most visitors this year are coming from around China. All visitors are required to show a “health code” on a contact-tracing app and have their temperatures measured before entering venues. Several events and performances that would have encouraged crowds have been canceled.

China also said on Monday that a team of investigators from the World Health Organization would be arriving on Thursday to begin an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus. Last week, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the W.H.O., took the rare step of publicly criticizing China for blocking the team from entering the country even though some members were already in transit. The details of the W.H.O. team’s visit have not yet been announced.

In other developments around the world:

  • The health care system in Britain is facing “the worst weeks of this pandemic,” the government’s chief medical officer, Prof. Chris Witty, said on Monday, adding that hospitalizations in England had already far surpassed the spring’s peak. “This is an appalling situation,” Professor Witty told the BBC, warning that the impact of the vaccines would not be felt for several weeks. Seven new vaccination centers are set to open across England this week, with the government hoping to offer a vaccine to every adult by the fall.

  • Primary schools and kindergartens in Greece reopened on Monday after a two-month closure, as the authorities moved to partially lift a lockdown that has been in place since Nov. 7. The country’s secondary schools and universities remained closed, with lessons being conducted remotely.

  • Lebanese authorities tightened a nationwide lockdown Monday, including an 11-day, 24-hour curfew, The Associated Press reported. The move comes amid a dramatic surge in coronavirus infections and growing criticism of uncoordinated policies many blame for the spread of the virus. News of the restrictions to be implemented starting Thursday morning sparked panicked grocery buying as people lined up outside of supermarkets to stock up, raising fears the crowds could further spread the virus.

  • The city of Brisbane, Australia, will lift a strict three-day lockdown enforced last week after a case of the new variant of the coronavirus was recorded. The lockdown will end Monday evening, though masks will remain mandatory in crowded spaces in the city for a further 10 days.

The second dose of coronavirus vaccine was given to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. three weeks after the first.
Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. received his second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on Monday, completing his inoculation against Covid-19.

Mr. Biden took his first dose of the vaccine on Dec. 21. At least 151,000 people in the United States have been fully vaccinated, as of Jan. 8, according to a New York Times survey of all 50 states.

“My No. 1 priority is getting vaccine into people’s arms,” Mr. Biden said after taking a quick needle jab. The president-elect said he and his advisers are finalizing a plan to accelerate mass vaccinations nationwide that he will release on Thursday.

“Three to four thousand people dying a day is just beyond the pale,” he said.

Mr. Biden lamented that mask-wearing continues to be a politically divisive issue, and said he was “appalled” to hear that, during last week’s storming of the U.S. Capitol, some Republican House members refused pleas from a Democratic colleague to don masks while they were crowded together in a secure protective location.

The United States reported 300,594 new cases on Friday and more than 4,100 deaths on Thursday, both single-day records, according to a Times database. In total, more than 374,000 have died from issues related to the virus in the United States.

The emergence of more contagious variants has added urgency to the country’s vaccine rollout, which has gotten off to a slow start.





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