This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Saturday, January 2nd, 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 Monday, December 14th. After beingshut 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. Certain parts of Staten Island remain under a zoned shutdown.

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.

Though New York City’s seven-day positivity rate average for COVID-19 remains below 9%—Governor Andrew Cuomo’s trigger to impose greater restrictions—rates in the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island have inched above 7%, according to statistics released by Cuomo on Saturday.

Manhattan and Brooklyn's seven-day positivity rate average for COVID-19 stood at 3.8% and 6.35% respectively.

The state’s total seven-day positivity rate average for COVID-19 is 7.55%, with Mohawk Valley and the Finger Lakes regions showing seven-day positivity rates for the virus above 10%. Cuomo has previously stated that if any of the 10 regions hit 9% on the state’s seven-day positivity rate, it would trigger a a systemwide school closure in that region. There has not been an announcement on whether schools will shift to full remote learning in the Mohawk Valley and Finger Lakes regions. New York City’s seven-day positivity rate for COVID-19 has steadily climbed and was 6.17% on Friday, according to state figures.

Of the 202,446 tests submitted to the state on Friday, 15,074 came back positive, a rate of 7.45%. The state reported 128 people dead from the virus on Friday, with four deaths in the Bronx, 12 in Brooklyn, four in Manhattan, eight in Queens, and four in Staten Island.

In a statement released Saturday, Cuomo reiterated that there's a "light at the end of the tunnel" to eradicate the virus given the presence of the vaccine that's still in the early stages of rollout.

"The state is working around the clock with the medical community to not only ensure vaccines are distributed as quickly and efficiently as possible, but to also continue growing bed capacity so hospitals do not become overwhelmed," Cuomo said. "As daunting as it may seem after all this time, it's critical that the rest of us remain tough and keep up our efforts to slow the spread."

Pfizer Vaccine Trial Participants Who Received Placebo Can Get Real One By March 1st

12 p.m.: Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine trial participants who unknowingly received a placebo will be offered a real dose by March 1st.

“Vaccine doses for placebo recipients have been secured, and our aim is that that all participants 16 years and older who received the placebo will have the opportunity to receive their first dose of the investigational vaccine within the study by March 1, 2021, if they choose this option,” said the vaccine trial website run by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech. Pfizer's trial began last July and involves 43,448 participants in 150 sites in six countries, half of whom were randomly selected to receive placebos.

While the FDA has asked Pfizer and Moderna, another pharmaceutical giant holding vaccine trials, to keep their participants on placebos for a longer period to collect more data, the companies say they need to offer the vaccine for ethical and practical reasons, STAT reported Friday.

“Among some trial participants, the issue had become fraught, with many protesting further delays in heated messages on social media and in letters to media organizations, including STAT,” the outlet reported.

The vaccine trials also have recruited many health care providers as participants, posing an ethical dilemma of withholding the vaccine from people who could be the most exposed.

In normal trials, crossover policies would allow placebo recipients to get the treatment at the end of the study. But part of the complication was how quickly the vaccine trials were launched last summer, which left little time for the Food and Drug Administration and the federal Operation Warp Speed to develop placebo crossover policies, STAT noted: “Consent forms given to volunteers, obtained by STAT, made no mention of when or if those who received placebo would get the two-dose vaccine.”

The head of Operation Warp Speed also said he personally believes placebo recipients should get the vaccine quickly because of their participation in the trial.

Pfizer said any placebo recipient can choose to remain in the two-year study instead of switching to the vaccine.