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:
9 p.m. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the federal government is increasing the supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses by 20% for the next three weeks—and decided that local governments can dictate the further expansion of the phase 1b vaccination group.
The governor says he will let local municipalities choose whether to offer vaccines to restaurant workers, taxi drivers, and those in developmentally disabled facilities. "I’m leaving it up to the local governments to determine what fits their situation," he said during a Tuesday press conference that followed Mayor de Blasio's.
A spokesman for de Blasio said, "We’re glad that the discussion around expanding eligibility for more New Yorkers continues to move forward. We need as many New Yorkers to be vaccinated as quickly as possible and the City is looking at these new allowances."
Previously the federal government had promised a 16% increase in vaccine supply.
De Blasio Says Restaurant Workers Should Be Vaccinated Before Indoor Dining Resumes
12 p.m. Mayor Bill de Blasio wants the state to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to include restaurant workers before indoor dining resumes in New York City.
While Governor Andrew Cuomo said last Friday that restaurants could resume welcoming indoor guests at 25% capacity starting on Valentine’s Day, he offered no details on when restaurant workers would get the authorized vaccines.
De Blasio believes that's not safe, because this workforce regularly interacts with groups of people not wearing masks while eating.
“The state made a decision. Now, follow through on the decision and add those folks to the [phase] 1b category,” Mayor de Blasio said during his daily press briefing on Tuesday.
On Monday, Cuomo said there aren't enough doses for people who are currently eligible, given the fact that 7 million can now sign up for the vaccine but only 300,000 doses arrive per week. He said that calls to give restaurant workers priority are part of a "cheap and insincere discussion."
UK Variant Picks Up Dangerous Mutation Seen In South African Strain
10:40 a.m.: British officials released a briefing late Monday stating that the UK variant has picked up an additional mutation that’s thought to allow the coronavirus to bypass our immune defenses.
The mutation—known scientifically as E484K—features in two other variants that emerged in South Africa and Brazil, respectively. Research shows that this genetic change can keep our antibodies from recognizing the virus, not only raising the odds of reinfection but potentially weakening the vaccine response. In England, health officials are launching a door-to-door campaign to test for the South African variant and curb its spread.
Vaccine companies are rushing to determine if their vaccine products still work against these three variants of concern, all of which have been detected in several dozen countries including the United States. Both Pfizer and Moderna released preliminary reports last week that claimed recipients of the vaccines can build immunity against the variants. However, those studies relied on coronavirus mimics, which are safer to handle, rather than the actual variants.
On Friday, two drug companies—Novavax and Johnson & Johnson—revealed their vaccine candidates can protect against the original coronavirus and the UK variant but were severely impaired when facing the South African variant.