This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Monday, February 8th, 2021. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here.
New York City is in Phase 4 of reopening now, which includes zoos, botanical gardens, museums, and gyms. Citing rising hospitalization rates, Governor Andrew Cuomo suspended indoor dining in NYC starting December 14th, but it's slated to return with limited capacity on Valentine's Day.
After being shut down for several weeks, NYC public schools partially reopened on December 7th for 3K-5th grade students, with students with special needs returning on December 10th.
Get answers to questions you may have with our "Ask An Epidemiologist" series, or learn more about NYC COVID-19 testing options with our explainer. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.
Here's the latest:
1:31 p.m. New Yorkers with pre-existing health conditions can begin making appointments for COVID-19 vaccines at state-run sites starting this Sunday, February 14th. Governor Andrew Cuomo listed the details at Monday’s coronavirus press briefing.
Cuomo said anyone who qualifies must bring a doctor's letter or proof of their medical condition. They can also sign an affidavit in order to receive the vaccine.
“This is a precious resource. There will be fraud. There will be mistakes. There will be inefficiency,” Cuomo said. “We understand that. But we will also audit to make sure the rules are followed.”
The upcoming expansion includes 13 disease categories including chronic conditions like cancer, kidney disease, liver disease, and serious lung issues such as severe asthma or cystic fibrosis. The full list was released on Friday and reiterated during Monday’s briefing. People with severe obesity, diabetes and heart conditions also qualify, as well as those who are immunocompromised or pregnant.
Smokers were omitted even though they’re more likely than the average person to be hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even though smoking rates have been declining since 2002, there are 2.2 million smokers across the state and about a million in the city. New Jersey has included smokers in its latest expansion.
Biden And Congressional Dems Make Plans For Kids, Moms, and NFL Stadiums
11:45 a.m. Accelerating the nation’s COVID-19 vaccine response will require an all-hands-on-deck approach to address the public health and economic crises left in the pandemic’s wake. Over the weekend, President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats laid out three proposals for tackling these dual issues.
Democrats want to pay American parents $3,000 to $3,600 per child under a potential revision to Biden’s economic relief package, which is currently under deliberation. As first reported by The Washington Post, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee Richard Neal (D-Mass.) is expected to introduce the bill known as the enhanced Child Tax Credit. The IRS would be charged with identifying the eligible families based on their income, but the Post reports that some parents could get $3,600 a year for every child under age 6, and $3,000 per child between the ages 6 to 17. The current proposal would phase out the benefit for single parents with an annual income above $75,000 and couples with a combined income over $150,000.
In an interview with CBS Evening News on Saturday, Biden mentioned another option for propping up hard-hit families: Getting women back into the labor force. The COVID-19 recession has been particularly hard on women, especially Black women and mothers. The latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows 3 million left the labor force over the past year. American women are also less likely to hold jobs that allow telecommuting and more likely to be single parents. New Yorker and Girls Who Code CEO Reshma Saujani is advocating for a Marshall Plan for Moms.
In the same interview with CBS’s Norah O’Donnell, Biden said he would accept a recent offer from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to turn the league’s 30 stadiums into mass vaccination sites. Seven of these arenas are already serving the immunization campaign, according to ESPN.