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February 17, 2021

Japan began its COVID-19 vaccine drive on Wednesday, with Vice Health Minister Hiroshi Yamamoto calling it "the first major step" toward ending the coronavirus pandemic.

The first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were administered at the Tokyo Medical Center. The initial shipments of the vaccine will cover about 40,000 health workers, Reuters reports. More than 3.7 million additional medical professionals will then receive the vaccine, followed by 36 million people 65 and older.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said that in order for the Olympics to take place in Tokyo this summer, the vaccine deployment must run smoothly. To inoculate everyone in Japan, the government is aiming to get 126 million vaccines by the middle of the year. There have been 415,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Japan and 7,013 deaths. Catherine Garcia

December 16, 2020

The Food and Drug Administration announced on Wednesday evening that Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine vials are supposed to hold five doses, but pharmacists have discovered a way to get one or two extra doses out of the bottles.

The FDA had told pharmacists the vials contain five doses, but it's been found that because they are overfilled in case of spillage, each vial could hold up to seven doses. Some pharmacists threw away the extra doses because they did not want to be in violation of the FDA's emergency use guidelines, but the agency told Politico that "given the public health emergency, FDA is advising that it is acceptable to use every full dose obtainable."

This will help the U.S. as it deals with a limited supply of the vaccine, possibly expanding the nation's inventory by up to 40 percent, Politico reports. Pfizer spokeswoman Sharon Castillo explained that "the amount of vaccine remaining in the multi-dose vial after removal of five doses can vary, depending on the type of needles and syringes used." Pfizer and the FDA have both said extra vaccine from vials should not be mixed together, due to the risk of contamination. Catherine Garcia

June 30, 2020

For the first time in months, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health on Tuesday reported zero new coronavirus deaths in the state.

The first coronavirus death in Massachusetts was reported on March 20. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) reminded people during a Tuesday press conference to continue to wash their hands, wear face masks, and practice social distancing, especially during the 4th of July weekend. "We do not want to take one step forward and two steps back as we keep climbing out of this horrific pandemic," he said.

The news comes as other states, including Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas, report spikes in coronavirus cases. On Friday, there were 50 coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts, with the number dropping to 28 on Saturday and 19 on Sunday, before rising to 35 on Monday, The Boston Globe reports. There are 108,882 confirmed and probable coronavirus cases in the state, with 8,054 deaths. Catherine Garcia

June 7, 2020

There are no active cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand, the country's health ministry announced Monday.

This is the first time there have been no known cases of the coronavirus in New Zealand since Feb. 28. Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield said in a statement that the last person being monitored for COVID-19 in the country is free of symptoms, and has been released from isolation. New Zealand has reported 1,154 cases of COVID-19, and 22 deaths.

Early in the coronavirus pandemic, New Zealand went into lockdown, prohibiting large gatherings, closing the country to foreign travelers, and shutting down non-essential businesses and schools. It also conducted widespread testing. The government is expected to soon announce whether it will lift remaining social distancing and economic restrictions, Reuters reports. Catherine Garcia

April 12, 2020

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been discharged from St. Thomas' hospital in London after he spent a week there receiving treatment for the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Johnson was admitted to the hospital last Sunday with persistent coronavirus symptoms and was eventually transferred to intensive care when his condition worsened. There, he was administered "standard oxygen treatments" before moving back to a regular ward a few days later. He'll now reportedly continue his recovery at Chequers, the prime minister's country residence.

Downing Street said Johnson is making good progress, but on the advice of his medical team he won't be returning to work immediately. Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, will continue to fill in for Johnson, as he's been doing since the prime minister went into intensive care.

Johnson, in comments released to journalists, said he couldn't thank the hospital staff and the United Kingdom's National Health Service enough for their efforts. "I owe them my life," he said. Read more at Reuters and The Guardian. Tim O'Donnell

January 8, 2020

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg entered the new year with a clean bill of health.

The 86-year-old was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1999 and pancreatic cancer in 2009. In 2018, two malignant tumors were removed from her left lung, and last year, a cancerous tumor was found on her pancreas. She underwent treatment, and told CNN in an interview published Wednesday, "I'm cancer free. That's good."

Several major cases are expected to come before the Supreme Court this year, involving topics like abortion, immigration, the Second Amendment, and President Trump's tax records. For more on the year ahead, visit CNN. Catherine Garcia

December 15, 2019

The football team at Newtown High School in Newtown, Connecticut, knew it would be hard to play in the state championship on the 7th anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting, but the players agreed — they were going to hit the field.

"Obviously it was going to be difficult and we wanted to make sure they were prepared," Superintendent Lorrie Rodrigue told The Hartford Courant. "The consensus was [that] they wanted to play and this was important to them." Several players on the team attended Sandy Hook Elementary School, and linebacker Ben Pinto's younger brother was one of the 26 victims of the shooting.

The stadium was packed with family, friends, and community members, with some wearing green in honor of those killed at Sandy Hook. The game was close, but with no time left on the clock, Newtown scored with a 36-yard touchdown, defeating Darien High School 13-7. It was Newtown's first state championship in 27 years.

The win was "a little glimpse of joy on what is a sad day in our community," Newtown Principal Kimberly Longobucco said, adding, it was "just a storybook ending." Darien High School tweeted that the defeat was hard, but "the joy it is bringing [Newtown High School] and the entire Newtown community is certainly numbing our pain." Catherine Garcia

September 9, 2019

The four crew members trapped inside a cargo ship that capsized off the Georgia coast early Sunday were rescued on Monday afternoon, the Coast Guard announced.

The four men are alert and in good condition, and have been hospitalized for evaluation, The Associated Press reports. The 656-foot cargo ship, the Golden Ray, capsized just 23 minutes after leaving the Brunswick port. The vessel was headed to Baltimore, and carrying about 4,000 vehicles. Immediately after the ship overturned, 20 crew members were airlifted to safety, but fire and smoke kept the rescuers from being able to move deeper into the ship.

The rescuers on Monday had to drill into the hull's steel plates in order to get the remaining crew members out. Lt. Lloyd Heflin coordinated the rescue, and told AP this was the "best day of my 16-year career." The cause of the capsizing is still under investigation, and port officials are working to reopen the channel. The ship is owned by Hyundai Glovis. Catherine Garcia

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