Coronavirus update: Frigid weather delays vaccine distribution, CDC advises consumers not to travel

Photo (c) Andriy Onufriyenko - Getty Images

New York officials are suing Amazon over its safety policies

Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 27,762,686 (27,703,142)

Total U.S. deaths: 488,352 (486,520)

Total global cases: 109,659,317 (109,285,411)

Total global deaths: 2,423,307 (2,411,745)

Winter storms complicate vaccine distribution

States were having a hard enough time securing ample supplies of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine before winter storms socked much of the nation. Now, the frigid weather is delaying vaccine distribution to a number of states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In Florida, the Department of Emergency Management said the storm has prevented the scheduled delivery of 200,000 doses of vaccine. The shipment was supposed to arrive Tuesday, but now officials say it won’t arrive until Thursday.

In Colorado, state officials have reported that winter storms delayed the shipment of 133,000 expected doses of the vaccine. 

CDC advises against travel

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging Americans to postpone travel plans for the immediate future. The guidance follows an investigation into several cases of the U.K. coronavirus variant in Minnesota in late December and early January.

The patients had all recently engaged in foreign and/or domestic travel. Three people had a history of international travel during the 14 days before illness onset, including two who traveled to West Africa and one who traveled to the Dominican Republic. Three had traveled to California.

So far, the CDC has documented at least 1,277 COVID-19 cases with the U.K. variant, known as B.1.1.7., in the U.S. The variant, which is highly contagious, has been found in 42 states.

New York sues Amazon over COVID-19 safety practices

New York Attorney General Letitia James is suing Amazon. Regulators say that the company’s workplace policies have failed to provide adequate health and safety measures for employees at the company’s New York facilities.

The suit also claims that the company has taken retaliatory actions against multiple employees who voiced safety concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic and violated New York State labor laws. 

“While Amazon and its CEO made billions during this crisis, hardworking employees were forced to endure unsafe conditions and were retaliated against for rightfully voicing these concerns,” James said.

Johnson & Johnson seeks European approval of its vaccine

Johnson & Johnson says it has filed papers to receive conditional European approval of its vaccine. The request was submitted to the European Medicines Agency and follows a similar request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this month.

Health officials around the world are hopeful that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will win speedy approval and quickly supplement the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. Some health experts have called the Johnson & Johnson candidate a potential game-changer.

“It’s such a flexible vaccine,” said Will Humble, the executive director for the Arizona Public Health Association and former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. Arizona was one of the states where the vaccine was tested.

Late payments on the rise during the pandemic

President Biden’s announcement Tuesday that the administration will extend the COVID-19 moratorium on home foreclosures was no doubt welcome news for struggling homeowners. But it turns out Americans are also struggling to pay their credit card bills.

A survey by personal finance site WalletHub shows that more than 18 percent of respondents said they believe they will miss at least one credit card due date in 2021. That works out to about 47 million Americans.

The survey also showed that the number of consumers asking their credit card company to waive a late fee rose last year by 16 percent. Nine out of ten respondents said their credit card company complied with their request.

Around the nation

  • Florida: Beckyjack's Food Shack in Hernando County has gone viral on social media after posting a sign on the door to the restaurant telling patrons they don’t have to wear a mask. But it was the way the restaurant said it that’s causing a sensation, referring to masks as “face diapers.”

  • Tennessee: While some states struggle to administer vaccines, state health officials in Tennessee say they are now ready to open eligibility to teachers and people age 65 and older. Officials say over 1 million shots have been administered so far.

  • Michigan: One good thing about holding online classes for school students is that you don’t have to worry about “snow days” when there’s bad weather. But a few school districts in the state raised some eyebrows this week when they declared a virtual snow day, canceling online classes for the day.

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