Coronavirus update: Moderna proposes way to speed up the rollout, another virus mutation

Photo (c) Kilito Chan - Getty Images

The White House and GOP are far apart on a stimulus compromise

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

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 26,330,506 (26,194,662)

Total U.S. deaths: 443,923 (441,409)

Total global cases: 103,572,661 (103,090,224)

Total global deaths: 2,243,638 (2,230,829)

Moderna proposes more vaccine per vial

Moderna, one of two pharmaceutical companies trying to keep up with demand for the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, has proposed filling vials with more of its vaccine. It says that would ease bottlenecks that have occurred in manufacturing and distribution.

Currently, each vial of the vaccine contains 10 doses. Moderna said it could easily increase that to 15 doses but would have to get permission from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is allowing distribution of the vaccine under an emergency use authorization (EAU).

"Moderna would need to have further discussions with the FDA to assure the agency's comfort with this approach before implementing," the company said.

U.K. variant mutates again

The first mutation of the coronavirus was discovered in the U.K. Now, scientists say the variant of the original virus appears to have undergone another mutation.

The BBC reports that it’s not unexpected that variants are appearing or that they will continue to change -- all viruses mutate as they make new copies of themselves to spread and thrive.

The BBC quotes Dr.Julian Tang, a virus expert at the University of Leicester, as saying the finding is "a worrying development, though not entirely unexpected."

Biden urged to reject GOP stimulus compromise

President Biden’s meeting with 10 Republican senators on Monday produced lots of smiles, but it remains to be seen if it produces a bipartisan agreement on additional coronavirus aid and stimulus. The two sides are very far apart.

Democrats are backing a $1.9 trillion package that pays all individuals $1,400, provides billions of dollars to state and local governments, and raises the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The 10 Republicans back a plan to spend $900 billion.

Democrats in Congress have urged Biden to reject a GOP compromise, believing they have the necessary votes to pass the massive spending plan as part of a budget resolution that would require only 51 votes.

Airlines celebrate federal mask rule

Since early in the pandemic, domestic airlines have required both passengers and crew to wear masks in airports and onboard aircraft. But there have been isolated cases of passengers defying airline rules.

Now those rules have the force of the federal government behind them. The Biden administration’s mask mandate for all forms of public transportation took effect today, and violators could face fines.

“We recently got good news when President Biden signed an executive order mandating face masks across interstate travel, including airports and aircraft,” Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian told employees. “This adds a layer of protection for our people who have been integral in enforcing our mask policy.”

Catholic schools mostly remain open despite COVID-19

The pandemic, now in its 11th month, has been hard on public schools. Many had to pivot to online learning or, at best, a hybrid of electronic and classroom instruction.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Catholic schools have largely been the exception, with most continuing to provide classroom instruction where it has been allowed. Because of that, there was a migration last year by many students from public to Catholic schools.

“The science is clear that there is no substitute for in-person learning, especially for poor and minority children most at danger of falling behind,” Tom Carroll, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Boston, told The Journal. “Across the nation, the Catholic school approach is to stay open wherever we are allowed.”

Around the nation

  • Louisiana: An audit of state government agencies has concluded that they had no policies in place to allow employees to work from home when the pandemic hit 11 months ago. The audit found that agencies had inadequate equipment, connectivity problems, and insufficient automation of their processes.

  • Colorado: State health officials are reducing Colorado's COVID-19 restrictions by easing the threshold that allows counties to remain in certain color-coded levels of coronavirus restrictions. The proposed changes would change the Denver area to “yellow,” loosening many business-capacity rules.

  • Minnesota: While many states struggle with vaccine shortages, state health officials say they have obtained 35,000 doses of the vaccine. They say the shots will be administered to seniors at 100 locations around the state.

Take a Home Warranty Quiz. Get matched with an Authorized Partner.