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COVID-19 updates: Pete Buttigieg in quarantine after security agent tests positive



(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 106 million people worldwide and killed over 2.3 million, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Here’s how the news developed Monday. All times Eastern:

Feb 08, 7:54 pm
Hospitalizations continue to decline

The COVID-19 hospitalization rate in the U.S. continues to see a downward trend, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

There are 80,055 people in the hospital with coronavirus symptoms, according to the health data. Hospitalizations peaked at around 130,000 a few weeks ago, according to the tracking project.

“The number of people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 has dropped by 21k in 10 days. In the last week, hospitalizations have decreased by 10% or more in 40 states,” the tracking project tweeted.

Feb 08, 5:57 pm
Pete Buttigieg in quarantine after staffer tests positive

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg is in quarantine after a member of his staff tested positive for the coronavirus, his office announced Monday.

An agent who is part of Buttigieg’s security detail and has had close contact with the newly confirmed cabinet member as recently as Monday morning tested positive, DOT Chief of Staff Laura Schiller said in a statement.

Buttigieg, who has received his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, tested negative Monday, according to Schiller.

“Secretary Buttigieg will take all necessary steps to ensure there is no spread, including quarantining for a period of 14 days and will continue to follow all other CDC guidelines,” she said in a statement.

The secretary will receive his second dose after the quarantine period, according to Schiller.

Another member of Buttigieg’s security team who was in close contact with the infected agent is also quarantining, the DOT said.

Feb 08, 4:42 pm
COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to fall in California

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 in California have fallen 34% over the past two weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a Monday press conference at Petco Park in San Diego, which has been turned into a mass vaccination site.

A month ago, California was logging more than 50,000 new cases each day, the governor pointed out. Today, new cases fell to 10,414 daily infections and the average testing positivity rate was at 5%, down from 14% last month.

“Hopeful signs continue,” Newsom wrote on Twitter Monday.

Feb 08, 3:07 pm
Nearly three million children have tested positive since the pandemic started

More than 117,000 cases of COVID-19 among children were reported last week, representing a 10% increase in cases between Jan. 21 and Feb. 4, according to a report released Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

The report, which compiles state-by-state data on infections among kids, found that 2.9 million children have tested positive since the start of the pandemic. In total, children represent 12.9% of all cases in states that report COVID-19 data by age.

Feb 08, 1:11 pm
Facebook announces campaign to promote authoritative COVID-19 information

Facebook announced a global campaign to promote authoritative COVID-19 sources and push back on disinformation, the company announced Monday.

The effort will including helping people find out where and when to get vaccinated; expanding its efforts to remove false COVID-19 information from Facebook and Instagram; and giving $120 million in advertising credits to health ministries, NGOs and UN agencies. Facebook also said it would provide data for education to help build trust in COVID-19 vaccines, as well as to inform vaccine delivery efforts.

Feb 08, 11:51 am
10% of US population has received 1 or more vaccine doses

Ten percent of Americans, or 31.6 million people, have received one or more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a Department of Health and Human Services planning document obtained by ABC News. Three percent of the population, or 9.1 million people, have gotten both shots of the two-dose vaccine.

President Joe Biden has pledged to get 100 million shots into Americans’ arms during the first 100 days of his presidency. Since his Jan. 20 inauguration, 24.6 million doses have been administered.

Feb 08, 11:20 am
Republican Congressman dies of COVID-19

Rep. Ron Wright, R-Texas, has died of COVID-19, his office confirmed on Monday. Wright, who had lung cancer, was diagnosed with the coronavirus on Jan. 21 and admitted to Baylor Hospital in Dallas.

Wright, who died on Feb. 7, was 67 years old.

“Over the past few years, Congressman Wright had kept a rigorous work schedule on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and at home in Texas’ Congressional District 6 while being treated for cancer,” his office said.

Wright is the second lawmaker to die after testing positive for COVID-19. In late December, GOP Rep.-elect Luke Letlow of Louisiana passed away at age 41, just days before he was due to be sworn in.

Feb 08, 11:04 am
Delta to block out middle seats through April

Delta will continue blocking out middle seats and limiting capacity on flights because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline announced in a statement Monday. The extra space will last through April 30, 2021.

“We’ll continue to reassess seat blocking in relation to case transmission and vaccination rates,” Bill Lentsch, chief customer experience officer, said in a statement.

Delta, which has blocked out seats and limited capacity on flights since last April, is currently the only U.S. airline still blocking out middle seats because of the virus.

Feb 08, 10:33 am
Some UNC classes to go virtual due to crowds flooding street after basketball win

Some UNC-Chapel Hill classes have the option to go virtual for nearly two weeks after university officials received hundreds of complaints following Saturday night’s crowd that rushed Franklin Street.

“As you are no doubt aware, last night hundreds of Carolina fans — many, presumably students — flooded Franklin Street to celebrate our men’s basketball victory over Duke,” university officials wrote in a statement. UNC-Chapel Hill students have agreed to adhere to COVID-19 rules like state gathering restrictions, mask-wearing and physical distancing, the officials noted.

“Those standards do not include exceptions for winning basketball games,” the officials said.

The timing of the crowd fell the weekend before students returned for in-person learning for spring semester. While in-person instruction will continue Monday, faculty are allowed to teach virtually and return to in-person learning on Feb. 17, according to the university. Students who attend in-person classes are required to be tested twice a week.

Feb 08, 9:43 am
South Africa halts AstraZeneca vaccines due to new variant

South Africa halted its rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine following trial results that found the vaccine provided “minimal protection” against mild-to-moderate sickness from the new virus variant spreading in South Africa. The trial did not assess whether the AstraZeneca vaccine protects against severe illness and death caused by the new variant, known as B.1.351.

On Monday, an AstraZeneca spokesperson said that the company believes its vaccine will protect against severe disease caused by the B.1.351 variant.

“This was a small study with predominantly young (average 31 years) healthy adults, where severe disease is not predominant. No severe disease or hospitalization was observed in the vaccine or control participants,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“We are working closely with the South African Ministry of Health on how best to support the evaluation of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca against severe disease of the B.1.351 variant, and how to bring this vaccine to the South African people,” the spokesperson added.

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