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Feds aim to send 1.7M weekly COVID-19 vaccine doses to New York by end of April

Melville resident Andrea Warmbrand, a financial aid counselor

Melville resident Andrea Warmbrand, a financial aid counselor at Nassau County Community College, gets her second shot of the COVID-19 vaccine from Eileen McCarthy, a registered nurse, on Tuesday at the college site in East Garden City. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin/Debbie Egan-Chin

This story was reported by Robert Brodsky, Matthew Chayes, Bart Jones and David Olson. It was written by Jones.

The state is set to receive a 33% increase in vaccine distribution that could rapidly accelerate its time frame for inoculating all New Yorkers, federal officials announced Friday.

The state will receive on average 1.65 million weekly doses of the vaccine by the end of April — a third more than it previously has gotten and 3.5 times the amount from Jan. 20 when President Joe Biden took office, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the White House’s COVID-19 vaccine coordinator.

The additional number of people who will be able to get the shots against the virus, Schumer said, would fill Yankee Stadium to capacity.

"New York’s COVID-19 vaccine supercharge is now underway and it’s going to make it easier and quicker for many more people to get a vaccine," Schumer said at a news conference, held outside a community health center in Manhattan.

The recently passed federal stimulus package includes $160 billion in funding to increase vaccine allocation and distribution, including $500 million in direct funds to New York.

Funds from the American Rescue Plan will be used to set up vaccination sites at 200 community health centers across the state — predominantly in communities of color — and to hire 5,000 more public health workers to administer the vaccines. A list of current program participants does not include any Long Island sites, but Schumer's office said some of that supply eventually will go to a health center in Ronkonkoma.

"We are moving very quickly to get the money out the door," said Jeff Zients, Biden’s vaccine coordinator. "Because of all of these acts — more vaccines, more vaccinators and more places to get vaccinated — we are making real progress."

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Zients said vaccines soon will be available at 20,000 neighborhood pharmacies, up from the current 14,000.

To date, the United States is averaging about 2.5 million doses administered each day, with the pace likely to dramatically increase with an expected surge in supply. Biden announced last week that all American adults will be eligible to receive a dose by May 1.

On Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the Biden administration had surpassed its initial goal of administering at least 100 million vaccination shots within 100 days of taking office. The administration has revised its goal upward to 150 million doses in that time frame.

According to the CDC, as of 6 a.m. Friday, more than 118 million shots had been administered, counting first and second doses. It was day 58 since Biden took office.

In New York, virus positivity levels remained largely steady in test results from Thursday, according to state data.

The statewide daily positivity rate was 2.97% out of 278,590 completed tests. The seven-day average of new positives was 3.26% statewide, 4.46% on Long Island and 4.1% in New York City.

The number of new confirmed cases was 702 in Nassau County, 711 in Suffolk County and 4,569 in New York City.

Statewide, 59 people died of COVID-19-related causes on Thursday, including six in Nassau and nine in Suffolk.

Looser CDC guidelines, allowing desks to be placed 3 feet apart in classrooms, are prompting the New York City public school system to invite families who had chosen to have their children attend all-remote classes to apply to return to in-person instruction, Mayor Bill de Blasio said late Friday afternoon.

A new opt-in period begins next week for all grades, with students through sixth grade due to return in late April for the remainder of the semester. The plan for the upper grades’ return is forthcoming, de Blasio said. He said the goal is to offer five-day-a-week schooling in person, but he promised only the "maximum days we can."

As New York and other states work to get residents vaccinated, a Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 30% of health care workers either don’t plan on getting vaccinated or are undecided.

Fifty-two percent of health care workers have received at least one dose of a vaccine, and 19% are either scheduled to get vaccinated or plan to do so, according to the survey. Eighteen percent don’t plan on getting vaccinated, and 12% are unsure.

Hesitancy to receive a vaccine was higher in those with low-paying jobs such as home health aides, employees with less education, Republicans and Black health care workers. Polls of the general public also have found that Republicans and Black Americans are less likely to plan to get vaccinated, with resistance among some Black people attributed in part to current and past bias and abuse in the health care system.

The survey of 1,327 health care workers nationwide, described as the most comprehensive of its kind, included those working in hospitals, assisted-living facilities and people’s homes. It was taken from Feb. 11 to March 7 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3%.

A national Kaiser survey last month of the general public that had questions that were worded differently found that 15% of Americans would not get vaccinated, 7% would do so only if required for work, school or other activities, and 22% wanted to "wait and see" how the vaccine worked in others.

On Long Island, 80% of hospital employees have received at least one vaccine dose, and 74% are fully vaccinated, according to state health department data. Statewide, 78% of hospital workers have received at least one dose, and 73% are fully vaccinated, the state data shows.

In New York, Cuomo has launched a campaign to encourage all residents to get vaccinated. The governor has said the state is in a race to get enough people vaccinated before more contagious and possibly more deadly variants of the virus take root.

On Friday, three new mass vaccination sites run by the state opened on Long Island: at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood, Stony Brook University at Southampton and SUNY Old Westbury.

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.

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