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The C.D.C. says the style and improved fit of the mask increase protection.

Dr. Rochelle P. Walenski, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says wearing close-fitting masks or masks that overlap increases the effectiveness of Covid 19 prevention.

Studies have shown that the number of infections and deaths due to Covida 19 virus decreased when a policy requiring everyone to wear a mask was implemented. Since the number of hospitalizations and deaths is still very high, this is not the time to abolish the requirement to wear a mask. I have also seen many well-meaning people wearing masks that don’t fit them well or don’t fit them at all. In fact, the latest data from the Porter Novelli survey shows that of the adults who have worn a mask in the past week, half have not done so properly in public. The new findings, published today in the C.D.C., underscore the importance of wearing masks correctly and making sure they fit properly over the nose and mouth. The C.D.C. is updating the mask information on its website to provide the public with new ways to improve the fit of masks. For example, a mask can be worn with a molded nose wire, earrings can be attached to the mask, or a fabric mask can be worn over a procedure mask or disposable mask. Consumers also have new options called “mask fitters,” small reusable devices that can cut the fabric or medical mask and create a tighter fit on the face, improving the effectiveness of the mask. The bottom line is that masks work best when they fit properly and are worn correctly.

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Dr. Rochelle P. Walenski, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that wearing closer-fitting masks or masks that overlap increases the effectiveness of Covid 19 prevention.CreditCredit…Philip Cheung for the New York Times

Wearing a mask – any kind of mask – reduces the risk of contracting the coronavirus, but wearing a tighter surgical mask or placing a cloth mask over a surgical mask can significantly increase the protection of the wearer and others, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Wednesday.

New research by the agency shows that transmission can be reduced up to 96.5% when infected and non-infected people wear tight-fitting surgical masks or a combination of cloth and surgical mask.

Dr. Rochelle P. Walenski, director of the C.D.C., announced the findings Wednesday during a briefing on coronaviruses at the White House and linked them to a call for Americans to wear a “tight-fitting mask” made of two or more layers. President Biden urged Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days of his presidency, and Dr. Walenski said the masks were particularly important given concerns about new traffic possibilities.

“With the number of hospitalizations and deaths still very high, this is not the time to abolish mandatory masks,” she said, adding, “The important thing is that the masks work, and they work if they are put on and worn properly.

The number of virus-related deaths, which peaked in the United States in November and remains high, appears to be steadily declining; the number of new virus cases and hospitalizations began to fall last month. But researchers warn that a more contagious variant of the virus, first discovered in Britain, is doubling in the United States about every 10 days. Last month, the CDC warned that it could become the dominant variant in the country by March.

As of February 1, 14 states and the District of Columbia have implemented a universal shielding mandate; shielding is now mandatory on federal lands and in national and international transportation. Although masks are known to reduce droplets and aerosols exhaled by infected carriers and protect uninfected carriers, their effectiveness varies widely due to air leakage at the edges of the mask.

“Any mask is better than no mask,” said Dr. John Brooks, lead author of the new CDC study. “There is strong and compelling evidence that wearing a mask reduces spread, and fewer new infections are acquired in communities that use masks.

But, he added, new research shows how protection can be strengthened. The agency’s new laboratory experiments are based on ideas from Linsey Marr, an expert on aerosol transmission at Virginia Tech, and Dr. Monica Gandy, who studies infectious diseases at the University of California, San Francisco.

One way to reduce transmission is to wear a fabric mask over a surgical mask, the agency says. Another solution is to fit the surgical mask more snugly on the face by “tying and pinning” – attaching two strands of earrings together where they attach to the rim of the mask – and then folding additional fabric around the rim of the mask and flattening and pinning it to create a tighter fit.

Dr. Brooks cautioned that the new study was based on laboratory experiments and that it is unclear how these masking recommendations would work in the real world (the experiments used surgical and tissue masks in three layers). “But this is clear evidence that the more masks we wear and the better they fit, the more each of us benefits,” he said.

Other effective options that improve fit include using a mask attachment – a frame that fits over the face – over the mask or wearing a clear nylon stocking cuff around the neck and pulling it over a tissue or surgical mask, the C.D.C. said.

Although vaccines have been slow to spread across the country, the emergence of new variants that may respond differently to treatment or escape the immune system to some extent has prompted health officials to emphasize that Americans must continue to take protective measures, such as concealment.

United States of America United States February 9 14 day invoice
New business 96,488 –35%  
New deaths 3,170 –20%  
The World World On February 1, February 9. 14 day invoice
New business 398,538 –26%  
New deaths 14,751 –13%  

American Vaccinations

Where states are reporting vaccines given

A vaccination site at Citi Field in Queens on Wednesday.

Vaccination at Citi Field in Queens on Wednesday. The credit … Kena Betancur/Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said the state’s major arenas and stadiums may open as early as Feb. 23 for spectator games with very limited capacity. Participants must test negative for coronavirus.

Places with a population of 10,000 or more may take 10% of their normal capacity, if approved by the State Department of Health.

Participants must present a negative P.C.R. test, taken within 72 hours prior to the event, before being admitted to the event. Headgear is required, as well as face coverings and temperature checks.

While keeping the spread of the coronavirus under control, the state must at the same time “reasonably open up this economy,” Cuomo said, adding that “this is part of the balance of a safe reopening, and again, the P.C.R. test is as safe as it gets.

The governor cited the success of a recent Buffalo Bills playoff game, in which about 6,700 people had to test negative for the coronavirus before being allowed to participate in the game, as inspiration for his decision. A negative test result is a glimpse of the ability to detect the virus if a person is infected, and may miss people who are infected but do not yet have enough virus in them for the test to come back positive.

“Testing is essential,” Cuomo said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Cuomo said the Barclays Center in Brooklyn will reopen on February 23 for the Brooklyn Nets’ game against the Sacramento Kings.

But Bills Stadium, unlike Barclays Center, is outdoors. According to health experts, the quality of ventilation is critical at indoor gatherings, as the virus spreads more easily indoors.

During his press conference, Mr. Cuomo gave no details about the ventilation, but an email from his office later stated that in order to reopen to professional sports, venues “must meet improved standards for filtration, ventilation and air purification.”

Attending an event indoors is risky, even with good ventilation and other precautions, says Saskia Popescu, epidemiologist at George Mason University.

“Bringing thousands of people to a place of screaming and socializing is not ideal at this time,” Dr. Popescu said in an email.

As for the games taking place at places like Citi Field or Yankee Stadium, which are used as vaccination sites, the governor joked that “between innings, people get vaccinated.”

Gareth Rhodes, a member of the governor’s Covid 19 task force, said the state plans to work with groups to keep the vaccinations going.

A vaccination center at Citi Field opened Wednesday, serving eligible Queens residents and cab and food workers from all five boroughs. The vaccination site will serve 200 people per day for the first week and will provide 24-hour service starting next Wednesday, officials said. Starting next week, 4,000 doses of vaccine per week can be administered, Mayor Bill de Blasio said during his speech at the stadium. It could provide 5,000 doses a day if the city has more reserves, he added.

“This spot is the beginning of something very big,” de Blasio said. “The Mets are doing something very important for the people of Queens today.”

The opening was scheduled for the week of January 25, but was postponed due to a shortage of vaccines.

The mayor also said that mass vaccination sites are still planned at Empire Outlets on Staten Island and at the Barclays Center, but he did not give an opening date.

The AstraZeneca vaccine being administered in Brazil on Tuesday.

AstraZeneca vaccine is launched in Brazil on Tuesday.Credit…Bruno Kelly/Reuters

A group of World Health Organization experts recommended Wednesday that the vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, be used in countries where new variants of the coronavirus are circulating.

The recommendation comes days after South Africa decided to suspend, at least temporarily, its plans to introduce AstraZeneca’s vaccine.

The decision was announced after a small clinical trial showed that the vaccine may not protect against mild to moderate cases caused by a viral strain first found in that country. Researchers could not determine whether the variant, known as B.1.351, affects the vaccine’s ability to prevent serious illness.

Although AstraZeneca’s vaccine has been recommended for widespread use, WHO scientists have acknowledged that each country must take into account the status of the virus and the types of variants that spread within it.

The WHO has not yet established a list for emergency use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which would allow it to be used in many low- and middle-income countries.

The W.H.O. will examine two vaccine manufacturers separately: AstraZeneca and Serum Institute, an Indian manufacturer that will provide many doses for the Kovacs initiative to bring vaccines to the poorest regions of the world. The W.H.O. will comment next week on these decisions, which are expected by mid-month.

Late last year, the WHO approved Pfizer’s vaccine. The decision on AstraZeneca’s vaccine is eagerly awaited, as countries around the world count on a product that is cheap and can be easily stored.

The first tranches of AstraZeneca’s Covax vaccine are expected to be delivered to countries before the end of February.

WHO is increasingly concerned that certain variants may reduce the effectiveness of Covid 19 vaccines and treatments. So far, variant B.1.351 is the most worrisome variant. AstraZeneca’s vaccine and other major vaccines still appear to provide strong protection against another, more infectious variant of coronavirus, first identified in the UK and known as B.1.1.7.

However, the scientists cautioned against drawing definitive conclusions from the preliminary data.

“We are in the early stages of understanding what a particular change in the virus means for the function of a particular vaccine or vaccines in general,” said Katherine O’Brien, director of immunization, vaccines and biologics at W.H.O. at a news conference Wednesday.

South Africa now plans to begin vaccinating health care workers next week with Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, which has prevented hospitalizations and deaths in clinical trials in the country. The vaccine is not yet licensed there, but officials said they will use it in ongoing clinical trials.

Regarding AstraZeneca’s vaccine, South African health officials said Wednesday that they are considering selling or exchanging millions of doses of the vaccine for different vaccines. Scientists at the W.H.O. said they were open to discussing such plans as part of the Covax initiative.

The WHO expert group that made recommendations Wednesday, known as the Strategic Advisory Group of Immunization Experts, also recommended that AstraZeneca’s vaccine be given to adults regardless of age, breaking with several European countries that have decided to limit its use to young people.

The W.H.O. team has also recommended that two doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine be administered at four to 12 week intervals. This follows the publication last week of an article showing that the vaccine appears to work better if the second dose is delayed. The UK and other countries have decided to delay the second dose of the vaccine to get more of the first dose into the population.

The University of California campus  in Berkeley.

University of California, Berkeley campus. Credit… Jeff Chiu/Associated Press…

On the Berkeley University campus, it took at least a month for university life to return to normal. Some students who had been sent home last year returned to their dormitories in January. The first full-time classes since the pandemic began were scheduled to resume on February 1.

Instead, a wave of infections with the coronavirus has plunged the campus into unprecedented isolation.

Since the beginning of the month, about 2,000 students have been locked in their rooms 24 hours a day and cannot even visit their roommates. Students are allowed to go to the bathroom, eat and are tested for coronavirus twice a week. (There are also exceptions for rare medical needs or emergencies).

In the near future, courses will be taught through distance learning.

Restricted students are even prohibited from going outside to sunbathe or exercise, although the university is in discussions with city health officials to ease this ban.

“It’s a little difficult,” said Veronica Roseboro, a first-year student who was quarantined in one of the eight-story dormitories on Wednesday, “but the university is doing everything it can to make sure everything is in order.

The lockdown was ordered after the university reported 44 new cases of infection among its staff and more than 43,000 students on January 30. Since then, 183 more cases have been identified, bringing the total number of cases in September from 9 to 724.

The number of new infections has decreased since the quarantine began, officials said, but the lockdown will not end until February 15.

Forty-somethings are not the only ones on a college campus. (The University of Wisconsin-Madison had 2,000 students in two dorms last year, and schools across the country are battling epidemics.) But that may be the hardest part.

Dormitory security has been strengthened to detect rule violators and unwanted visitors. A cell “badge” (green for those already tested, yellow for a missed test, orange and red for those quarantined and Covid-19 positive) is monitored by so-called “health ambassadors.”

Non-compliance can be costly. Violators may be suspended and student organizations may be barred from registration.

But some students are not deterred by the sanctions.

“Some may disagree with me,” said one student who said he regularly leaves the house to talk to friends (“I make sure they have a test”).

“My mental health is very important,” the student said.

A hospital worker put a warning label on a body bag holding a deceased patient at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Los Angeles last month.

Last month, a hospital employee put a warning sticker on the body bag of a dead patient at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Los Angeles. Credit … Jae S. Hong/Associated Press

The number of deaths from the coronavirus, which has risen sharply since November in the United States and remains high, appears to be steadily declining after the number of new cases and hospitalizations began to fall last month.

The country recently reported about 2,800 deaths per day, an average that does not take into account an abnormal day last week when Indiana announced a large backlog of obituaries. This national average is still well above the level of early November, before the recent national peak, when about 825 deaths were reported daily. But it is well below the peak of a few weeks ago, when the average was more than 3,300 per day.

New cases of coronavirus are a key indicator of mortality, and this statistic improved significantly during the month. The country reported 96,400 new cases on Tuesday, the third consecutive day with fewer than 100,000 new cases, a figure not seen since early November.

The seven-day average of the number of new cases-a more reliable indicator of the direction of the pandemic-has fallen by more than 50% since its peak on January 8.

We don’t know if this will continue. Researchers warn that a more contagious variant of the virus, first discovered in Britain, is doubling in the United States about every 10 days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned last month that it could become the dominant variant in the country by March.

The mortality rate is usually several weeks behind the number of new cases, and daily statistics can be subject to fluctuation. It has been difficult for some time to see clear signs that mortality is beginning to decline. But today the national trend is unmistakable: the daily average has fallen by about 18 percent since January 12.

While the number of deaths continues to rise in some states, including Alabama and South Carolina, the number is steadily declining in many others. In the past two weeks, deaths from viruses have dropped by more than 40 percent in New Mexico and by more than 30 percent in Arkansas, Colorado and Connecticut.

The slowdown is encouraging, but that’s not why people are letting their guard down, said Bill Hanage, epidemiologist and associate professor at Harvard University.

Dr. Hanage stated that the increase in new cases and deaths in December and early January is likely due to the increased vacation schedule and the onset of winter. Influenza and most types of coronavirus infections peak in winter, and there is no reason to believe that this is different for Covid-19. (Influenza is not a coronavirus infection, as previously thought).

The infectious nature of the Covida 19 virus and the emergence of variants that can spread even more easily remain a major reason for caution, he said.

“If people relax in response to these declines, it is entirely possible and expected that the declines will subside and even rise again,” he said.

A New York Times analysis shows that about half of the approximately 465,000 people killed in the Covid 19 have fallen since the violence began in November.

Maggie Owens and her children, Louise and August, playing in their Chicago home. The city’s teachers approved a deal early Wednesday that would send students, including Louise, back to classrooms.

Maggie Owens and her children, Louise and August, play at home in Chicago. City teachers reached an agreement early Wednesday to send the students, including Louise, back to their classes. The credit… Jamie Kelter Davis for The New York Times.

After a two-week hiatus from full-time classes, Chicago’s teachers union announced Wednesday that its members had reached an agreement to reopen classes in the country’s third-largest public school system.

More than 20,000 ballots were cast, with 13,681 members voting in favor and 6,585 voting against, the union said.

According to this agreement, kindergarten students and some special education students will return to school on Thursday. Kindergarten staff through grade 5 will return on February 22, and students in these grades will return on March 1. Staff from grades 6 through 8 will return on March 1, and students on March 8.

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As part of the agreement, the city has pledged to distribute 2,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine this week to staff in classrooms scheduled to reopen Thursday, and to all other staff who deal with people at high risk of contracting the virus. Thereafter, 1,500 doses per week will be distributed to school staff for weeks at a time.

Teachers who do not have students teaching face-to-face could continue to teach remotely, and teachers who are unvaccinated could take an unpaid leave of absence for the next semester instead of teaching in person. The agreement also sets thresholds beyond which districts and individual schools or classes must temporarily return to distance education.

“This plan is not what any of us deserve,” Jesse Sharkey, president of the Chicago Teachers’ Union, said in a statement. “This deal is what we should have started months ago, not what happened.”

“We will protect ourselves by creating school safety committees established under this agreement to organize and enforce C.P.S. safety standards and mitigation protocols,” Sharkey said. “The safety committees will monitor compliance with this agreement, have access to information and have the ability to change unsafe practices in their schools.”

Sharkey criticized Mayor Lori Lightfoot for her handling of the situation and said the stewards voted a vote of no confidence in the mayor and the school board Monday night.

Ms. Lightfoot and district director Janice K. Jackson said, “This vote confirms the strength and fairness of our plan, which gives families and staff the confidence to return to school and ensures the best health and safety protocols.”

Ms. Lightfoot, a Democrat, and the union are embroiled in one of the most acute disagreements about reopening in the country. The mayor said the city’s most vulnerable students should have the opportunity to return to school in person, while the union called the plan to reopen unsafe.

Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff hosted a series of phone calls on Wednesday with nurses’ unions.

Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff made a number of phone calls to nurses’ associations on Wednesday.Credit…Chandler Photo Office West/White House

Jill Biden, the first lady, and Doug Emhoff, the second-in-command, had a series of phone conversations Wednesday with nurses’ unions, one of which represents several rural areas of the country fighting the advance of the coronavirus, an administration official said.

In one phone call, nurses in Huntington, Washington, expressed concern about dozens of colleagues they said were infected with the virus at a local hospital. In Columbus, Ohio, nurses told health care workers to share and reuse N95 masks and feared their ranks would be strained by the infection.

Nurses are at particularly high risk of contracting the virus, according to the Federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Nurses, doctors and other front-line workers also report high rates of depression, injury and burns during the pandemic.

And the lack of protective equipment remains a chronic problem.

In the conversations, Dr. Biden and Mr. Emhoff “told them that this government is fighting for them,” according to the first lady’s spokeswoman. But most importantly, they listened to the nurses and promised to share what they learned with President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

In conversations that lasted 10 to 20 minutes each, the nurses said they were grateful for the administration’s work but reiterated the need for more protective equipment and larger doses of vaccine. According to the spokesperson, the conversations sometimes became emotional.

These calls came as Dr. Biden’s expanded platform began to emerge in her husband’s first weeks.

The first lady said she had publicly praised the aid workers. After Biden’s installation at the White House, one of her first official acts was to record a video of her and the military thanking them for securing the inauguration. (She was still wearing her inauguration gown when she shot the video.)

Every four years we celebrate the beginning of a new government. It is the beginning of a new and wonderful chapter. A time when we all come together. I am very grateful to everyone who has worked to create an incredible day, especially in this particularly challenging year. pic.twitter.com/P3L7OYoANR

– Jill Biden (@FLOTUS) January 21, 2021

Dr. Biden also created a video with a message from her husband, which aired during last weekend’s Super Bowl.

“We wanted to thank all of the frontline health care heroes, both during the competition and while monitoring across the country,” the First Lady said. “You and your families have carried us this year with courage, compassion and kindness.”

DemeTech, in Miami, Fla., and other businesses that have jumped into making masks must overcome the ingrained purchasing habits of hospitals, medical supply distributors and state governments.

DemeTech in Miami, Florida, and other companies that have jumped on the bandwagon must overcome the entrenched purchasing habits of hospitals, medical distributors and state governments. The credit… Scott McIntyre for The New York Times.

A year after the pandemic began, the virus-filtering disposable N95 mask is still a highly coveted protective device. An ongoing shortage has forced doctors and nurses to reuse their N95s, and ordinary Americans have searched the Internet – mostly in vain – for N95s.

But Luis Arguello Jr. has a lot of N95s for sale – 30 million to be exact, which his family business, DemeTech, has produced at its Miami factories. He can’t find any buyers.

After the pandemic revealed a huge need for protective gear and China closed its supplies to the rest of the world, the medical suture company DemeTech began trading masks. The company invested tens of millions of dollars in new equipment and then went through a nine-month government approval process to sell the masks.

But demand is so low that Mr. Arguello is preparing to lay off some of the 1,300 workers he has hired to increase production.

“It’s crazy that we can’t provide these masks to people who desperately need them,” he said.

In one of the most confusing gaps between the laws of supply and demand, many of the more than two dozen small U.S. companies that have recently entered the N95 market are facing an abyss – unable to penetrate the market despite promises by former President Donald Trump and President Biden of “buy American” and rapid domestic production of medical supplies.

These companies must overcome the entrenched purchasing habits of hospital systems, medical distributors and state governments. Many consumers are hesitant to try new masks from the United States, which are often more expensive than masks made in China. Another obstacle is posed by companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google, which have banned the sale and promotion of N95 masks to prevent recipients from diverting vital medical equipment needed by front-line medical personnel.

Health care experts and industry leaders say an ambitious strategy, which includes federal loans, grants and procurement guidelines, is needed to ensure the long-term viability of the domestic industry, which is important to the national interest.

“The government should call outsourcing the supply of American masks a matter of national security,” said Mike Bowen, owner of Prestige Ameritech, a Texas-based mask manufacturer, who testified before Congress about the need to support domestic manufacturers.

Residents waited in their cars to get the Pfizer vaccine at Ratliff Stadium in Odessa, Texas, in January.

Residents waited in their cars to receive the Pfizer vaccine at Ratliff Stadium in Odessa, Texas, in January…Credit…Eli Hartman/Odessa American, via Associated Press

The White House, in an effort to step up mass vaccination against the coronavirus, has opened five new vaccination centers, three in Texas and two in New York City, specifically targeting people of color, officials said Wednesday.

President Biden has repeatedly stated that racial equality will be central to his response to the coronavirus, but there are glaring racial disparities in the vaccination campaign. In some cities, wealthy whites are flocking to clinics that primarily treat blacks and Latinos because they are running out of scarce supplies of vaccines.

And the government’s efforts to collect data on race and ethnicity of the vaccinated are waning.

“This is an excellent example of how we are putting our work for equality into action, and it shows the potential we have to get it right across the country,” Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, chair of Mr. Biden’s Equality Task Force, said Wednesday at a press conference with New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, speaking about the new centers.

“This is a courageous step to take as a sign of hope,” Cuomo said.

On his first day in office, the president asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to begin setting up federal government-supported immunization centers, with the goal of having 100 operational within a month. On Tuesday, the government announced its intention to deliver one million doses of vaccine weekly to government-supported health centers in underserved areas.

Biden told CBS News’ Nora O’Donnell Sunday that National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell has extended a government proposal to use the league’s 30 stadiums to distribute Covid-19 vaccines.

Experts say people living in disadvantaged areas face several barriers to getting vaccinated, including phone connections and websites that can take hours to navigate, as well as lack of transportation or work interruptions to get to an appointment. And people of color, especially blacks, are unlikely to be eager to be vaccinated given the history of unethical medical research in the United States.

But Mr. Cuomo said he rejected the term “indecisiveness about vaccines,” adding, “Let’s call a spade a spade. It is a lack of confidence – for obvious reasons.

According to Cuomo, the New York centers will be located at York College in Queens and Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and will be able to vaccinate 3,000 people per day. The federal government will provide special doses for these centers, which will be staffed jointly by the federal government, the military and National Guard personnel.

Last week, the government announced the construction of two mass vaccination clinics in California – one in Los Angeles and one in Oakland. The Texas clinics will be located in Arlington, Dallas and Houston, according to the White House.

Dr. Evan Saulino, a family physician in Portland, Ore., called for multiple strategies to distribute vaccines.

Dr. Evan Saulino, a family physician in Portland, Oregon, has advocated for different strategies for administering vaccines… Tojo Andrianarivo for the New York Times

Family physicians are becoming increasingly frustrated with their exclusion from national vaccine distribution, their inability to find reliable coverage even for their elderly patients, and their lack of basic information about vaccine distribution planning.

“The emphasis should be on primary care,” says Dr. Wayne Altman, chief of the Department of Family Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine, who also sees patients in Arlington, Massachusetts. State officials there use Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium as places for mass immunization, rather than offering practices like coronavirus vaccination to high-risk patients.

“Extending the vaccine to all of these methods and circulating them at this rate will significantly speed up the implementation process,” Dr. Altman said.

There are about 500,000 family physicians in the United States who traditionally administer nearly half of all adult vaccinations and immunize their patients against pneumonia, influenza and other infectious diseases. Although most doctor’s offices cannot stock Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine because it requires special freezers, doctors say they can easily administer the Moderna vaccine with proper storage measures, along with some other vaccines that will likely be available soon.

“We’re ready,” says Dr. Elizabeth Kozak, an internist in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In early January, she received a license to distribute the Soverna vaccine. “We haven’t seen anything yet, but we’re ready.”

Although some doctors say they have received a small amount of vaccine, many say they are still waiting for an indication of when they will be able to receive the doses and how they will fit into a long-term schedule for wider distribution.

Doctors say they are essential in reaching people who otherwise would not be vaccinated because they cannot or will not visit the mass vaccination sites or even their local pharmacy.

“We can’t have just one or two strategies for administering the vaccine,” said Dr. Evan Saulino, a family physician in Portland, Oregon, who spoke with patients, including black and Hispanic patients, who are unsure whether they want the vaccine. Some of his patients don’t trust the government and don’t want a syringe from someone in uniform.” One person he spoke with would not go to a pharmacy, but was able to get the vaccine at his clinic.

Dr. Kozak, a Michigan internist, agrees, saying doctors like her can focus on people who are struggling to navigate the current system. “We may not be able to get these numbers, but we can do it for the more vulnerable and at-risk groups,” she said.

World cycle

Travelers at Heathrow airport in London last month.

Travelers at London Heathrow Airport last month. The credit… Holly Adams/Getty Images

Vacations abroad may not be possible for British residents until all adults in the country are vaccinated, a government official said Wednesday, raising questions about how the travel industry can deal with such restrictions and dashing the hopes of many citizens who had hoped that Britain’s relatively successful vaccination would allow them to enjoy their trips abroad this summer.

Transport Minister Grant Shapps said on British television that international travel is only possible if “everyone in the UK” is vaccinated and that the restrictions could remain in place until other countries make significant progress on vaccination.

“We will have to wait for other countries to follow our lead to make this a broader international disruption,” Shaps said.

By Wednesday, more than 12.5 million doses of the vaccine had been administered in the United Kingdom, representing about 18% of the population and one of the highest rates in the world. At the current rate, the country plans to administer the first two doses of vaccine against the coronavirus to the entire population by the end of June.

Authorities report a sharp drop in the number of infections in recent days, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce a possible easing of restrictions later this month.

But on Wednesday, Shapps called for caution regarding plans for this year and advised people not to book vacations, either in Britain or abroad. “I’m afraid I can’t give you a definitive will to go on vacation,” he told Sky News.

Mr. Shapp’s warning came on the day authorities announced new travel restrictions, including prison sentences of up to 10 years for anyone traveling to Britain who lies about their whereabouts.

Mr. Shapps described the measures, including detention, as “proportionate.” Among the other restrictions that take effect Monday is that British residents arriving in England from more than 30 countries where variants of the coronavirus are prevalent will have to pay up to 1,750 pounds ($2,410) for up to 40 days in government-run hotel rooms.

The United Kingdom had 114,000 deaths from the coronavirus, the fifth highest number in the world.

At other events around the world.

  • Mexico has approved the use of the Chinese vaccine Sinovac Covid-19 in emergency situations, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatelli said, Reuters reported. Earlier this month, the country also approved the use of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V against the coronavirus.
  • Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday that the country will begin a vaccination program next week, starting with health workers.
  • Leaders of the World Health Organization and UNICEF, the UN children’s organization, warned in a joint statement that the huge gap in global vaccination “will cost lives and livelihoods, give the virus new opportunities to mutate and escape vaccines, and undermine global economic recovery.” Of the 128 million doses of vaccines administered worldwide, more than three-quarters have been administered in just 10 countries, while nearly 130 others have not yet introduced any, the statement said.

A seizure of counterfeit masks at a port warehouse in El Paso, Texas.

The seizure of counterfeit masks at a port warehouse in El Paso, Texas.Credit…U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, via Associated Press.

Many of them were smart people.

They were stamped with the 3M logo and shipped in boxes that read “Made in USA.”

But the so-called N95 masks were not made by 3M, nor were they manufactured in the United States, federal investigators said Wednesday.

The items were junk and millions of them were purchased by hospitals, medical institutions and government agencies in at least five states, federal authorities said, announcing an investigation.

Homeland Security Investigations has stated that the masks are dangerous because they may not provide the same protection against the coronavirus as the real N95.

“We don’t know if they meet the standards,” said Brian Winehouse, special agent for internal security investigations.

Cassie Sauer, president and CEO of the Washington State Hospital Association, said that about two million counterfeit masks may have entered the state. These were “very good fakes,” she said.

“They look, feel, fit and breathe like a 3M mask,” Sauer said.

News of the investigation came on the same day that the Homeland Security intelligence community warned law enforcement agencies that criminals were selling fake coronavirus vaccines on the black web for “hundreds of dollars per dose.”

Berlin and the rest of Germany have been in lockdown since before Christmas with nonessential stores and schools closed.

Since Christmas, Berlin and the rest of Germany have been under quarantine, with stores and schools closed. The credit… Lena Mucha for the New York Times.

Germany will remain isolated for at least another month because of the risk of an infectious version of the virus, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and governors decided Wednesday.

“We know that this change is now a reality and we know that it will become even more pronounced,” Mrs. Merkel said after a meeting with the governors of Germany’s 16 federal states. “The question is how fast it will rise.”

Although the sharp decline in the number of daily new infections shows that the curb, which has lasted almost two months, is having an effect, authorities are concerned about the spread of more infectious variants. Nearly 6% of positive coronavirus cases in Germany were caused by more infectious variants, with the variant found in the UK being dominant.

The purpose of the barrier extension is to prevent water vapor from entering the infectious options.

Most stores, museums and services will remain closed until the number of new infections reaches an average of 35 cases per 100,000 people per week, a figure expected to be reached in March if current trends continue. Last week there was an average of 68 cases per 100,000 people. The reopening of schools and kindergartens, which the government considers a priority, is being monitored by the states and should take place earlier. Under strict supervision, hair salons were allowed to reopen on March 1. The opening of other businesses, such as gyms, bars and restaurants, will be discussed at a future meeting, Merkel said.

According to the New York Times database, an average of 8,887 new cases per day were reported in Germany last week, far fewer than the approximately 25,000 cases per day during the Christmas period.

Lock-up rules are in effect until March 7. Merkel and the governors of the states will meet again on March 3 to decide on further measures.

Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, addressing lawmakers in Brussels on Wednesday.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen addresses lawmakers in Brussels on Wednesday.Credit…Johanna Gueron/Reuters

A senior EU official said Wednesday that the European Union “is not where we want to be” in the fight against the pandemic, after mistakes in aligning vaccine shipments led to the EU falling behind other countries.

“We are too late for approval,” Ursula von der Leyen, an official at the European Commission, the bloc’s executive body, told reporters in Brussels.

“We were too optimistic about mass production and perhaps too confident that what we ordered would actually be delivered on time,” she said. “We have to ask ourselves why this is so.

However, she believed that purchasing in bulk doses of the vaccine was the right decision.

“I can’t even imagine what would happen if a handful of big players – the big member states – rushed in and everyone else came up empty-handed,” she said, adding that this would mean “the end of our community.”

Her comments stemmed from criticism that Ms. von der Leyen was negotiating with pharmaceutical companies to supply vaccines to the 450 million people in the 27 countries of the Union.

While the United Kingdom and the United States have made progress in delivering vaccines, the European Union has been more cautious and costly, creating a crisis after vaccine producers claimed they were late in submitting orders.

Tensions rose with Britain, which left the bloc’s sphere of influence late last year, after the commission canceled an attempt last month to limit vaccine exports to that country through Northern Ireland.

“The bottom line is that mistakes were made in the process that led to the decision,” von der Leyen said Wednesday. “And I deeply regret that. But at the end of the day, we did the right thing.

More than 17 million people, about 4% of the neighborhood, have received at least one dose of the vaccine, she said.

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