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Officials: COVID-19 vaccinations canceled at state and municipal sites due to snow

The state, Nassau County and New York City

The state, Nassau County and New York City had postponed COVID-19 vaccinations Monday due to weather disruptions. Aside from the mass vaccination sites, the state has supported vaccination outreach in minority communities, including on Jan. 26 at Memorial Presbyterian Church in Roosevelt. Credit: Office of the Governor / Kevin P. Coughlin

This story was reported by Robert Brodsky, Matt Clark, Bart Jones and David Reich-Hale. It was written by Jones.

Appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine were canceled on Monday and Tuesday in sites run by the state, Nassau County and New York City due to the storm bringing copious amounts of snow to a large swath of the state, officials said.

Nassau said it didn't have any scheduled vaccine appointments for Monday and that appointments for Tuesday already had been rescheduled for later in the week.

New York City canceled all vaccination appointments for Monday and Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at his daily news conference. Those will be rescheduled for later this week.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said vaccine shots were being halted at sites run by the state, including Jones Beach and Stony Brook University, though no one will lose their appointment.

"It's really going to get rescheduled in any state-run facility," Cuomo said during a Monday morning news briefing.

Other state vaccine sites in the region that will remain closed Tuesday are the Aqueduct Racetrack, the Javits Center and the Westchester County Center. Appointments will be rescheduled via emails or text messages, the state said.

Suffolk County said its sites had been scheduled to close Monday and Tuesday anyway, due to lack of vaccine supply.

Despite the shutdowns, Cuomo said the state is closing in on administering 2 million vaccines, combining first and second doses. A total of 1.86 million vaccinations have been injected.

The state is sending out vaccines to hospitals, pharmacies, state-run vaccination sites and other locations as fast as it receives them from the federal government, but the problem remains insufficient supply — currently about 300,000 doses a week, he said.

De Blasio said the city was being cautious and would be able to return to its vaccination efforts on Wednesday, despite continued supply shortages.

"Getting around the city will be difficult" Tuesday, he said. "It will be icy. It will be treacherous. We do not want seniors, especially, out in those conditions. We will come back strong on Wednesday. We will be able to catch up quickly because we have a vast amount of capacity. But we don’t have enough vaccine."

In total, the city vaccinated 815,193 people in January, falling short of its goal of 1 million vaccinations, because of a lack of supply, de Blasio said.

City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi said the city is expecting 150,000 doses of the vaccine this week, with the bulk scheduled to arrive Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The storm, he said, will not interfere with those deliveries.

The mayor on Monday also reiterated that to increase the supply, at least 27 national pharmaceutical companies should be directed to produce the existing vaccine — despite the patents being held by vaccine-makers Pfizer and Moderna.

"There is no reason why we are living by traditional lines of corporate self-protection," de Blasio said. "There is no reason that profit is dominating this discussion instead of the needs of people. There is no reason that people are more concerned about patents instead of saving lives."

Downward trend in cases

The level of positivity in COVID-19 tests statewide continues to drop after a post-holiday spike, falling for the 24th straight day, Cuomo said.

The statewide level was 4.9% from 175,038 tests reported, with Long Island again registering the highest level of any region in the state, with a 6.2% positivity rate.

But Cuomo said the good news is that the levels continue a steady decline statewide.

After the spike, "New Yorkers did a good job of keeping that number down low," he said. "In many other states, the infection rate went higher, and they’re in serious trouble."

Cuomo added: "I think it’s evidence of the fact that New Yorkers get it and New Yorkers care about each other, and they’ve been smart."

A total of 141 people died statewide on Sunday of causes related to the virus, including 10 in Nassau and 10 in Suffolk. The number of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in test results Sunday was 919 in Nassau, 839 in Suffolk and 4,194 in New York City.

Hospitalizations resulting from the virus increased slightly on Sunday to 8,003 patients statewide, up 27 people. On Long Island, the number of patients with COVID-19 has decreased by 10 people, or 0.7%, in the last 30 days, according to a Newsday analysis of health metrics.

Cuomo said the vaccination campaign, while temporarily halted, will continue. The state has administered 90% of the first doses it has received from the federal government, or 1,393,064 out of 1,554,450.

GETTING COVID-19 VACCINES IN NY

Who qualifies for COVID-19 shots?

The State of New York has expended its eligibility list for vaccines against COVID-19 several times, expanding the groups of people included in the phases. This is a summary of the eligible groups. The following are the qualifying categories, as revised on March 29.

Group in Phase 1A

The state said about 2.1 million state residents belong in this group, including:

  • Health care workers at hospitals who interact with patients.
  • Residents and staff at nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
  • Dentists, psychologists and others deemed health care workers with direct contact with patients.
  • Employees of Federally Qualified Health Centers.
  • EMT volunteers and staff.
  • Coroners, medical examiners, some funeral workers.
  • Staff and residents of state facilities for people with developmental disabilities, mental health care and addiction services.
  • Employees at urgent care centers.
  • Individuals administering COVID-19 vaccines, including local health department staff.
  • Staff at ambulatory centers.
  • Home care and hospice workers.
  • Residents and staff at other congregate care facilities.

Group in Phase 1B

The state estimated about 3.2 million residents belong in this group, including:

  • People 75 years of age and older.
  • Teachers and education workers, including in-person college instructors, substitute teachers, student teachers, school administrators, paraprofessional staff, support staff, contractors in schools and bus drivers.
  • First responders, including police; firefighters; state police; sheriff’s offices; county, town and village police departments, and other law enforcement offices.
  • Public safety workers, including dispatchers and technicians.
  • Public transit workers, including airport, railroad, subway, bus, ferry and Port Authority employees.
  • Corrections officers.
  • Other sworn and civilian personnel, such as court and peace officers.
  • Grocery store workers dealing with the public.
  • Individuals living in homeless shelters.

Following federal recommendations:

Added at the discretion of local governments:

  • Taxi drivers.
  • Restaurant workers.
  • Residents of facilities for developmentally disabled people.
  • Hotel workers who interact with the public.

Other expansions of eligibility:

  • State residents age 60 and older (Since March 10, 2021).
  • “Public-facing” government and public employees (Since March 17, 2021).
  • Workers for not-for-profit organizations who provide “public-facing” services (Since March 17, 2021).
  • Building service workers who are “public-facing” employees (Since March 17, 2021).
  • State residents age 50 and older (Since March 23, 2021).

Since March 30, 2021:

Since April 6, 2021:

SOURCE: New York State, Northwell Health.

Rescheduling Northwell appointments

Northwell said Monday that anyone who had a vaccination appointment canceled at its Belmont Park site in Elmont because of the snowstorm should call 844-919-VACC to reschedule.

Its website warned people of potential cancellations on Tuesday: "Due to inclement weather, Northwell vaccination locations may be closed on Tuesday, February 2nd."

Separately, Northwell said the number of COVID-19 patients at its hospitals continues to drop throughout New York, including on Long Island.

The New Hyde Park-based health system said it had 1,193 hospitalized COVID-19 patients statewide, down from 1,316 at the same time last week.

Northwell, the largest health system in the state, said it had 584 COVID-19 patients at Long Island facilities, down from 645 the week prior.

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