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NY's supply of Johnson & Johnson vaccines will plummet next week 

Why NY will get fewer Johnson & Johnson vaccines

New York, outside New York City, will receive only 19,800 doses of the one shot vaccine next week, compared with 167,600 it received this past week. New York City will get only 15,100 doses, compared with 127,200, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Suffolk County received 1,700 Johnson & Johnson doses this week but "we’re expecting zero for next week," said county spokesman Derek Poppe.

Johnson & Johnson destroyed about 15 million vaccine doses after it was discovered that the large batch produced for it by Emergent BioSolutions in a Baltimore facility did not meet the company’s quality standards.

The COVID-19 vaccine by Johnson & Johnson is only one dose, while the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses spaced several weeks apart.

The New York Times reported that Emergent had mixed up ingredients for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine with those from the AstraZeneca vaccine, which hasn’t been authorized for use in the United States.

Need a vaccine appointment? These resources may help you book one.

The number of new positives reported today: 668 in Nassau, 731 in Suffolk, 4,368 in New York City and 9,014 statewide.

This chart shows how many patients are hospitalized for coronavirus each day across the state.

Search a map of new cases and view charts showing the latest local trends in vaccinations, testing, hospitalizations, deaths and more.

When will life get back to normal?

Life could be back to normal a year from now, though it will depend on how many people get vaccinated against the coronavirus — and booster shots could be necessary, some health experts said.

"My hope is we will be at a place where the [winter] holidays will look potentially somewhat like they were in the past," said Perry Halkitis, dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health in New Jersey.

Halkitis and three other health experts were surveyed on when life will return to normal, and although three of the four predicted that it will likely will be by late this year or early 2022, their answers were filled with caveats about the many unknowns.

Among them: the effect of virus variants; the length of immunity the vaccines will provide; how many of the 20% to 30% of Americans who polls say are reluctant to get vaccinated may eventually get the shot; and when young children will be eligible for vaccines.

Halkitis said the key to normalcy is reaching herd immunity -- when enough people are vaccinated or naturally immune that the virus no longer spreads widely. Experts nationwide have placed the number needed for herd immunity at between 70% and 90%.

Changes to LIRR, low ridership likely here to stay

Having just posted its highest annual ridership and on-time performance figures in years, the Long Island Rail Road was predicting another strong year in 2020 — until the pandemic hit, leading to unprecedented drops in ridership and revenue.

A year later, the LIRR remains vastly changed by COVID-19, and there’s evidence that some of those changes are here to stay.

Even as the railroad tries to lure back riders with technological innovations, intensified cleaning efforts and new ticket options, many lapsed commuters remain leery about returning, deterred by ticket prices, the thought of crowded trains and reduced service.

"Ultimately, the question is not whether ridership returns. It’s whether there is as much travel as there was before, and whether travel that used to be considered inelastic is now considered discretionary," said Danny Pearlstein, policy director for the Riders Alliance, a nonprofit commuter advocacy group.

Even as businesses continue to reopen, and vaccination rates rise, as many as 20% of former LIRR riders won’t be back even by 2025, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s projections. Other agencies, including credit rating firm Moody’s, has predicted a permanent 20% loss in MTA ridership.

Athletes create website to help people schedule vaccine appointments

After a year of living through the realities of pandemic life, Will Kurka and Noah Lika wanted to do something to help get their world back to normal.

The Bay Shore High School seniors have a knack with computers and saw a way to help their parents and grandparents, who were having trouble getting vaccine appointments online.

Kurka and Lika, who both compete for the Bay Shore track and field team, created a free website launched last month that aims to help senior citizens and those with underlying conditions schedule vaccination appointments without the hassle or frustration of navigating the New York State website.

"A lot of our parents were having technical difficulties," said Kurka, 18, of Fire Island. "It’s extremely hard to navigate the NYS website sometimes. We want to simplify the process as much as possible with our one-stop website. We do the complicated part."

Website users fill out a form with all the information required to schedule an appointment as they would through the New York State website. That information is then fed to Kurka and Lika, who go to work on making the appointments.

More to know

Nassau County is creating a plan to help prevent anti-Asian and other hate crimes in an effort to address cultural and language needs in vulnerable communities, police Commissioner Patrick Ryder and county legislators said Thursday.

A recent survey found that 81% of meeting planners have plans to hold their next in-person event sometime this year with most of that activity (59%) occurring in the second half of 2021, according to Northstar Meetings Group.

Roger Waters, the former lead singer/bassist of Pink Floyd, is following suit with many major touring artists by moving his "This Is Not a Drill Tour" to 2022.

Consumer confidence in the metropolitan area continues to recover from its dramatic fall a year ago when the coronavirus struck, according to the latest poll from the Siena College Research Institute.

Longtime Islanders radio play-by-play voice Chris King will miss at least two more games as he remains in COVID-19 protocol.

The application portal for a federal grant program to help hard-hit independent movie theaters, concert halls and other live performance spaces was shut down hours after it opened on Thursday.

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COVID-19 showed the urgency of investing in public health. Will we listen? J.M. Opal, an associate professor and department chair of history and classical studies, and Steven M. Opal, a research scientist and clinical professor of medicine, write for The Washington Post: Two hundred years ago, America made a bad decision about infectious diseases and national priorities.

In 1798, the English physician Edward Jenner had shown that an injection of cowpox — variolae vaccinae — protected people from the horrors of smallpox. The good doctor wanted to share the liberating power of vaccination with the entire world. An overjoyed Thomas Jefferson put aside his fear and loathing of England to thank Jenner on behalf of "the whole human family."

And yet, in 1822, Congress sank a promising effort to vaccinate Americans nationally. What went wrong? And how can we avoid a similar mistake today, as the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic appears poised to recede? Continue reading.