More  than 9,000 virus patients were sent into New York nursing homes; Biden says US is securing 600 million vaccine doses by July

More than 9,000 recovering coronavirus patients in New York state were released from hospitals into nursing homes under a controversial directive that was scrapped amid criticism it was accelerating outbreaks.

That’s according to new records obtained by the AP, report Bernard Condon and Jennifer Peltz.

The new number of more than 9,000 recovering patients sent to hundreds of nursing homes is more than 40% higher than what had been previously released by the state health department.

And it raises new questions as to whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s March 25 directive helped spread sickness and death among residents. That’s a charge his administration disputes.

Overall, New York has lost more than 45,000 people to the virus, more than any other state except California.

U.S. Vaccination Drive: President Joe Biden says the U.S. will have enough supply of the vaccine by the end of the summer to inoculate 300 million Americans. Biden toured the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the sprawling National Institutes of Health complex just outside Washington that created the COVID-19 shots now manufactured by Moderna. Biden says the U.S. had secured contractual commitments from Moderna and Pfizer to deliver the 600 million doses of vaccine by the end of July — more than a month earlier than initially anticipated, Zeke Miller and Jonathan Lemire report.

Australian city of Melbourne begins third lockdown due to cluster; Portugal’s relief at falling cases tempered by fear; Pandemic’s toll on exhausted UK funeral directors 

Australia’s second-largest city of Melbourne will begin its third lockdown due to a rapidly spreading coronavirus cluster centered on hotel quarantine. The five-day lockdown will be enforced across Victoria state to prevent the virus spreading from the state capital.

The Australian Open tennis tournament will be allowed to continue but without spectators.

Only international flights that were already in the air when the lockdown was announced will be allowed to land at Melbourne Airport.

A population of 6.5 million will be locked down from 11:59 p.m. until the same time on Wednesday because a contagious British variant of the virus first detected at a Melbourne Airport hotel has infected 13 people. Some Australian states have imposed border restrictions on travelers from Melbourne.

Portugal’s Peak: After about two weeks last month as the world’s worst-hit country by size of population, the anxiety in Portugal over the recent pandemic peak has eased slightly. The number of COVID-19 patients in hospital and in intensive care fell for the third straight day. But Portugal’s seven-day average of daily deaths remained the world’s highest, at 2.05 per 100,000 people. One doctor had a nagging fear as the Iberian nation’s January surge of cases threatened to overwhelm his intensive care unit at the capital’s Curry Cabral Hospital: He was afraid he wouldn’t be able to care for his patients. Helena Alves reports from Lisbon.

Britain’s Undertakers Under Pressure: Funeral home staff are under intense pressure in many countries, but the burden is especially intense in Britain, where more than 115,000 people with the virus have died. That’s one of the highest per-capita death tolls in the world.

One London funeral director says her phone hasn’t stopped ringing, and she worries that “I don’t have what it takes.” Undertakers, embalmers and others who deal with death for a living often regard the burden on them as less important than the pain felt by bereaved families. But many are exhausted by the sheer amount of mortality they have faced, and the pandemic is increasing awareness that their own mental health also deserves consideration, Jill Lawless and Jo Kearney report from London.

Brazil Vaccination-Amazon: Traveling to remote communities in the Amazon is only the first challenge for health workers vaccinating Indigenous and riverine people. They can also face deep skepticism about receiving the shot. Much of that stems from the doubts that Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro repeatedly sowed about the efficacy of the vaccines. Although Indigenous communities have gained greater access to technology and the internet in recent years, information often arrives in a very distorted way, Diane Jeantet and Fernando Crispim report.

Coronavirus Cases:

108,358,209

Deaths:

2,380,471

Recovered:

80,409,652
Highlighted in green
= all cases have recovered from the infection
Highlighted in grey
= all cases have had an outcome (there are no active cases)

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February 12 (GMT)

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  • 10,677 new cases and 1,474 new deaths in Mexico [source]