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The spread of Covid-19 appears to be slowing in the U.S. as the nation's seven-day average of new cases was 110,854 as of Monday, down 24% from the prior week, according to Johns Hopkins University data. But Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has warned new, highly contagious Covid variants could reverse the recent decline in U.S. cases and hospitalizations. U.S. health officials are also concerned that Covid mutations could potentially evade the protection of vaccines currently being distributed.
Here are some of the biggest developments Tuesday:
- WHO outlines Wuhan findings on origins of pandemic, says lab theory 'extremely unlikely'
- Uber, Walgreens team up to expand access to Covid vaccines
- 2.7 million U.S. homes still in mortgage delinquency, a pandemic low
The U.S. is recording at least 110,800 new Covid-19 cases and at least 3,100 virus-related deaths each day, based on a seven-day average calculated by CNBC using Johns Hopkins University data.
The following data was compiled by Johns Hopkins University:
- Global cases: More than 106.74 million
- Global deaths: At least 2.33 million
- U.S. cases: More than 27.16 million
- U.S. deaths: At least 466,991
Texas Children’s Hospital doctor says long-haul Covid symptoms should be a 'wake up call' for young people
About 10% to 30% of all Covid patients are likely to suffer from lingering symptoms, according to the latest research from Mt. Sinai's Center for Post-Covid Care. Doctors still don't know whether patients with post-acute Covid syndrome, commonly known as "long-haul Covid," will experience these symptoms for the rest of their lives or just a matter of months.
Long-haul Covid and evidence of how common it is should prove a "wake-up call" to young people, said Dr. Peter Hotez, a physician and co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital on CNBC's "The News with Shephard Smith." Even though they are less likely to die from the novel coronavirus, they will want to take great care to avoid infection.
The symptoms most commonly associated with post-acute Covid syndrome include: fatigue, chronic shortness of breath, digestive issues, cognitive defects (known as "brain fog") and a racing heart. Some Covid patients even develop type 1 diabetes after infection, Hotez said, but endocrinologists are still trying to understand exactly why this occurs.
Salesforce says most workers will work from home at least part time after pandemic
Salesforce said Tuesday that most of its workforce will work remotely at least part time once the coronavirus pandemic is over.
"As we return to the office, health and safety will remain a top priority," the company, which is the largest private employer in San Francisco, said in a blog post. "We know the vaccine is on everyone's mind and will play an important role in our path to return — but there are a lot of unknowns."
Salesforce, which employs about 50,000 people, added that some workers will work fully remotely, while "the smallest population" will be coming into the office full time.
Many corporations have taken up similar working models during the pandemic in an effort to mitigate the virus spread. This trend is also expected to continue. A survey conducted by Upwork in December found that 25% of all U.S. workers expect to work remotely in 2021.
Widespread vaccines will come in the spring, Walgreens exec says
Covid-19 vaccines should be more widely available at pharmacies across the country in the spring, said Rick Gates, Walgreens senior vice president of pharmacy and health care.
At CNBC's Healthy Returns Spotlight virtual event, he said he expects to see more doses in late March or early April.
About 43.2 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been administered across the country as of Tuesday morning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only 9.8 million people have received both doses of the two-dose regimens.
San Francisco announces expanded vaccine eligibility, Levi's Stadium opens as vaccination site
San Francisco will expand its vaccine eligibility to include some essential workers, like teachers, first responders and food and agricultural workers, beginning Feb. 26, Mayor London Breed said.
The city is now administering more than 4,300 Covid-19 vaccine a day, based on a weekly average, according to data Breed presented at a press briefing. The mayor said about 13% of city residents have received their first dose of vaccine, though that number could be higher because some people are receiving shots from other counties.
A mass vaccination site at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara opened on Tuesday with plans to vaccinate 5,000 residents a day, though that could climb to 15,000 per day once supply increases, according to NBC Bay Area.
J&J CEO says people may need annual vaccine shots for the next several years
Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky told CNBC that people may need to get vaccinated against Covid-19 annually over the next several years.
"Unfortunately, as [the virus] spreads it can also mutate," he told CNBC's Meg Tirrell during a Healthy Returns Spotlight event. "Every time it mutates, it's almost like another click of the dial so to speak where we can see another variant, another mutation that can have an impact on its ability to fend of antibodies or to have a different kind of response not only to a therapeutic but also to a vaccine."
His comment came days after J&J said it applied for an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for its single-shot Covid-19 vaccine.
Medical experts say there is a high likelihood that Covid-19 will become an endemic disease, meaning it will become present in communities at all times, though likely at lower levels than it is now. Officials will have to continuously watch for new variants of the virus, so scientists can produce vaccines to fight them, experts say.
–Berkeley Lovelace Jr.
Daily Covid deaths in the U.S.
Most nursing home staff declined Covid vaccines, Walgreens executive says
Not everyone is clamoring for a Covid vaccine. About 60% of employees at nursing homes and assisted living facilities declined the shots, according to Rick Gates, Walgreens senior vice president of pharmacy and healthcare.
Vaccine hesitancy was "higher than we expected," he said at CNBC's Healthy Returns virtual event on Tuesday. He said only 20% of residents refused the shots.
That statistic is in sharp contrast to many Americans who have waited in long lines and driven hours to get a vaccine. It highlights another challenge that the country will face in the coming months, as supply of the vaccine grows: Persuading the majority of Americans to get the lifesaving vaccine, which will help protect the broader public and allow the economy to gradually return to some degree of normalcy.
New CDC study finds nearly half of adult Americans say they intend to receive vaccine
Nearly half of adult Americans surveyed late last year said they were absolutely certain or very likely they would get vaccinated against Covid-19, an increase from September when 39.4% of survey respondents said they would get the jab, according to a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If including people who said they were somewhat likely to get vaccinated, confidence grew to as high as 68% in December, according to the study. Trust in the drugs grew the most among adults age 65 and older, who have been some of the first Americans in line to receive the shots.
Confidence differed between demographics. Younger adults, women, Black people, people living in nonmetropolitan areas, and those with lower educational attainment were more likely to say they didn't want the vaccine. People with lower income and those without health insurance were also less likely to want a vaccine, according to the study.
Adult dependents to get $1,400 stimulus check under latest relief package
College students, disabled Americans and other adult dependents are set to get a $1,400 stimulus check in the next Covid-19 relief package.
The latest relief package includes $1,400 stimulus payments for both children and non-child dependents, according to details released by the House Ways and Means Committee released Monday night. This is a major change from two previous rounds of stimulus payments, which excluded adults who are claimed as dependents for tax purposes.
Beyond dependents, the latest provisions of the Covid-19 relief package include $1,400 stimulus checks for individuals earning less than $75,000 after taxes ($150,000 for those married and filing jointly).
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden supported the income thresholds laid out by the Ways and Means Committee, adding that the total cost of the package remains at $1.9 trillion.
The legislative package is expected to pass Congress in the coming weeks through a budget reconciliation process initiated by Democrats so they can pass the legislation by a simple majority. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), the chairman of the committee, said Monday that his committee is scheduled to vote on the stimulus payment plans this week.
FEMA spending $3 billion to staff federal and state vaccine centers
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is seeking bids on two contracts worth $3 billion to hire thousands of medical personnel who are licensed to administer shots to help staff federal and state Covid-19 vaccine sites around the country.
President Joe Biden announced last month his administration's plan to deploy FEMA and other federal personnel to build and help staff Covid-19 vaccine sites in a move to ramp up the pace of vaccinations. But the number of personnel trained and certified to actually administer the shots has been an ongoing constraint.
FEMA said the $3 billion will help pay for an estimated 5,000 licensed medical workers who will be deployed to various vaccination sites across the country. The contracts will likely run for six months but could be extended to 18 months if needed, FEMA said.
2.7 million U.S. homes still in mortgage delinquency, a pandemic low
Mortgage delinquencies in the U.S. fell to a pandemic low in November, though the number is still higher than fall 2019, CNBC's Diana Olick reports.
Under 6% of all mortgages were delinquent at the end of November 2020, about 2.7 million homes, according to CoreLogic.
"The decline in delinquency means fewer distressed sales, which is both a positive for individual households and the overall housing market." said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic in a release.
About 4% of all mortgages are more than 90 days past due, or seriously delinquent, compared to about 1% a year ago.
Vaccinations are paving the way back to the office
As more Americans are vaccinated against Covid-19, they may be able to return to the office as soon as this spring.
Roughly 40% of employers that shifted to remote work at the start of the coronavirus pandemic are planning to have their workers return to the office as early as March, according to a report from The Conference Board.
Employees, on the other hand, aren't all ready to rush back to the workplace.
Experts say employers can require employees to get vaccinated but that's unlikely. Most will encourage, rather than require, vaccinations.
Equal Employment Opportunity laws do allow companies to mandate the flu and other vaccines, but employees can opt out under certain circumstances. The same may be true for Covid-19 vaccines based on early guidance.
In that case, "maybe working from home is a reasonable accommodation," said David Barron, a labor and employment attorney with Cozen O'Connor in Houston.
Of course, not all workers have the ability to work from home, even during a pandemic. And for others, particularly parents of young children, telecommuting has been particularly challenging.
Uber, Walgreens team up to expand access to Covid vaccines
Uber will provide free rides to Walgreens stores and the company's off-site clinics for people who book an appointment, but don't have a car or nearby pharmacy. The companies will kick off the pilot in major cities, including Chicago and Atlanta.
The companies are also developing an educational program with the National Urban League to reduce vaccine hesitancy. They will create in-app features that make it easier for Uber drivers to book a vaccine appointment when doses are more widely available.
Well app hopes to encourage routine medical care
Gary Loveman, CEO of health start-up Well Dot, joined "Squawk Box" on Tuesday to discuss the need to encourage regular medical care and communication amid the pandemic.
London’s iconic Oxford Street adapts to deal with Covid-fueled closures
The U.K. saw 20,000 store closures during 2020, a reality that is transforming main street, known as the high street in Britain.
Main street is experiencing significant change as customers move online and leisure activities take up more time, analysts have told CNBC.
Neil Shearing, group chief economist at Capital Economics, predicts "a shift in the use of high streets probably after the pandemic away from retail and towards particularly more things to do with leisure."
He expects the high street will have more "community activities" such as restaurants, coffee shops, cinemas and theaters.
WHO outlines Wuhan findings on origins of pandemic, says lab theory 'extremely unlikely'
An international team of investigators led by the World Health Organization outlined their initial findings on the origins of the coronavirus pandemic after nearly a month of meetings and site visits in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected.
Dr. Peter Ben Embarek, the WHO's food safety and animal disease specialist and chairman of the investigation team, said at a press briefing that the "most likely" pathway for Covid was a crossover into humans from an intermediary species.
A theory that the coronavirus was leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology was discredited by the team of investigators. Ben Embarek said this hypothesis was "extremely unlikely" and would not be suggested for future studies.
The team said further research was needed into how and whether the disease circulated in animals before infecting humans, describing the research as a "work in progress."