Protests delay massive vaccination effort at Dodger stadium; Guantanamo vaccinations paused: Today’s key COVID updates
COVID-19 has killed more than 438,000 Americans, and infections have continued to mount despite the introduction of a pair of vaccines late in 2020. USA TODAY is tracking the news. Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates. Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates to your inbox, join our Facebook group or scroll through our in-depth answers to reader questions.
One of the nation’s largest vaccination sites temporarily shut down Saturday when dozen of protesters blocked the entrance to Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, stalling hundreds of motorists who had been waiting in line for hours.
The Los Angeles Fire Department shut the entrance to the vaccination center at about 2 p.m. as a precaution, officials told the Los Angeles Times. LAPD tweeted that the protesters were peaceful and that all scheduled vaccinations would take place.
Protesters included members of anti-vaccine and far-right groups, the Time said. Some of them carried signs decrying the COVID-19 vaccine and shouting for people not to get the shots.
“CA is working around the clock to provide life-saving vaccines to those on the frontlines of this pandemic,” Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted. “We will not be deterred or threatened. Dodger Stadium is back up and running.”
In the headlines:
►Hundreds of people gathered outside the Michigan State Capitol on Saturday to protest the pause on some high school winter sports in the state, according to local news reports. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer delayed the start of four “contact” sports until late February.
►A second U.S. state reported a case of the coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan confirmed a case of the B.1.351 variant in his state Saturday. South Carolina reported at least two cases of the variant earlier this week.
►The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued an order requiring people on airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis and ride-shares to wear a face mask while waiting, boarding, traveling and disembarking.
►After opening itself to New Year’s revelers, Dubai is now being blamed by several countries for spreading the coronavirus abroad, even as questions swirl about the city-state’s ability to handle reported record spikes in virus cases.
►Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., said she requested to move her Washington office away from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, saying the Georgia Republican “berated” her in the Capitol earlier this month over a mask altercation.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 26 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 439,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 102.4 million cases and 2.2 million deaths. About 49.2 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and 29.6 million have been administered, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: Applications to medical school for this coming fall are up 18%, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. And many school officials specifically note the number of applicants from traditionally underrepresented Americans is helping to drive the surge.
The U.S. is backing off for now on a plan to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to the 40 prisoners held at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Pentagon chief spokesman John Kirby said in a tweet Saturday that the Defense Department would be “pausing” the plan to give the vaccination to those held at Guantanamo while it reviews measures to protect troops who work there. Kirby said no prisoners had yet received the vaccination. The plan drew some criticism after The New York Times reported that the vaccination of prisoners would start in the coming days.
“We’re pausing the plan to move forward, as we review force protection protocols,” Kirby said. “We remain committed to our obligations to keep our troops safe.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says a vaccine site in Washington Heights administered shots to mostly white people who came from outside the predominantly Latino neighborhood.
“Somehow instead of focusing on the Latino community of Washington Heights, a place that really was hit hard by COVID, instead the approach was somehow conducive to folks from outside of the community coming and getting vaccinated, but not folks who live right there in Washington Heights – totally backwards,” the mayor said in a press conference, according to a transcript.
Many cities and states are lagging in vaccinating people of color although they are more likely to be hospitalized or die of the virus.