Latest news on coronavirus cases and vaccines

Gottlieb says Covid masks still important for now

Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC he thinks Americans need to keep wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus spread, but stressed that in the not-so-distant future, the guidance may change.

“We need to be careful this month. I don’t think that this is the time to start lifting … the simpler mitigations like wearing masks, things like that,” the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner said on “Squawk Box.”

Eventually, as more Americans are vaccinated and new coronavirus cases decline further, it will be sensible to forgo masks in public, Gottlieb contended.

“If infection levels get low this summer, which I believe they will, and we fully vaccinated 50% or 60% of the adult population, we’re not going to be wearing masks on the beach on July 4th. We’re not going to be wearing masks, probably, in indoor settings unless we want to,” Gottlieb said.

Kevin Stankiewicz

Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and is a member of the boards of Pfizer, genetic testing start-up Tempus, health-care tech company Aetion and biotech company Illumina. He also serves as co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ and Royal Caribbean’s “Healthy Sail Panel.”

CDC shortens social distancing guidelines for kids in school to 3 feet with masks

Giani Clarke,18, a senior at Wilson High School, takes a test in her AP Statistics class. The desks are doubled as a way to provide more social distancing.

Ben Hasty | MediaNews Group | Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its guidance on social distancing in schools, saying most students can now sit three feet apart instead of six feet apart so long as they are wearing masks.

The agency’s recommendation is for all K-12 students, regardless of whether community transmission is low, moderate or substantial. In communities where transmission is high, the CDC recommends that middle school and high school students remain at least six feet apart if schools aren’t able to keep students and teachers in assigned groups.

The updated guidance comes after a study published last week in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases suggested public schools could safely reopen as long as kids were three feet apart and other mitigation measures, such as wearing masks, were enforced.

Some schools had complained that maintaining a six-foot rule was not feasible. The World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics have both approved three-foot social distancing.

—Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

Biden and Harris to meet with Asian American leaders, CDC experts in Atlanta

President Joe Biden, from left, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, and U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, wear protective masks while arriving to an event in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Friday, March 12, 2021.

Jim Lo Scalzo | Bloomberg | Getty Images

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are set to meet with Asian American leaders in Atlanta in the wake of the shooting rampage that left eight people dead, including six Asian women.

The violent attack in Georgia came amid a rise in violence and hate-crime incidents against Asians and Asian Americans during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The president and vice president are also scheduled to receive an update on the coronavirus crisis from experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hannah Miao

Boat dealers and manufacturers struggle with increased boat demand amid the pandemic

The boating industry is facing a massive uptick in sales and dealers are still struggling to keep up as people flock to outdoor activities amid the pandemic.

Steve Arnold, owner of two marinas and a boat club franchisee in Maine, said he’s never seen anything like it during his 18 years working in the business. His boat sales across the board — used, new and rental boats — skyrocketed last year and he’s still trying to keep up with wait times that increased from a few weeks to a few months.

People are turning to boats during the pandemic because of its unique way of bringing people together outdoors, while still allowing for social distancing.

“I think Covid changed society for the better in terms of looking towards your family and your relationships in your discretionary time,” said Arnold, noting that this trend will stick in the boating industry for years to come.

Even, Brunswick Corp., owner of major brands like Sea Ray and Boston Whaler, had to increase production capacity in three of its facilities to keep up with the increased demand.

—Katie Tsai

Pandemic pushed 75 million more people into poverty in India, study shows

A Pew Research Center analysis showed about 75 million more people in India fell into poverty last year because of the pandemic-induced economic recession, reports CNBC’s Yen Nee Lee.

That number for India accounts for nearly 60% of the global increase in poverty in 2020, the analysis showed. It defined the poor as people who live on $2 or less daily.

The increase in poverty in India “claws back several years of progress on this front,” Rakesh Kochhar, senior researcher at Pew Research Center, wrote in a report.

—Melodie Warner 

Retro Fitness CEO on easing Covid restrictions

Andrew Alfano, CEO of Retro Fitness, joined CNBC’s “Worldwide Exchange” to discuss the process of reopening gyms in New Jersey and across the country.

UK PM to receive Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, says others should do the same

Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives an update on the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic during a virtual press conference inside 10 Downing Street on March 18, 2021 in London, England.

Tolga Akmen – WPA Pool | Getty Images

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to receive the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.

Johnson, 56, has sought to reassure the public that the shot is both safe and effective following safety concerns around the world. Several countries in Europe had suspended the vaccine as a precautionary measure after reports of blood clots in some vaccinated people.

U.K. and EU regulators have said there was no evidence the Covid-19 vaccine had caused blood clots.

Johnson was himself treated in hospital for Covid-19 in April last year and spent days in an intensive care unit.

— Sam Meredith

Dr. Peter Hotez backs Fauci in his showdown with Sen. Paul over masks

Dr. Peter Hotez sided with one of the nation’s top doctors following a showdown between Republican Sen. Rand Paul and Dr. Anthony Fauci on Capitol Hill over masks.

“Dr. Fauci is absolutely right, Senator Paul is absolutely wrong, and that’s the way it’s been for the last 14 months,” Hotez said.

Paul claimed on Thursday that people who already have Covid antibodies aren’t at risk and don’t need to wear masks. The Kentucky Senator also accused Fauci of wearing two masks simply as “theater.”

The White House chief medical advisor emphatically pushed back against Paul’s comments saying, “I totally disagree with you.”

Emily DeCiccio

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:

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