COVID Update 2/3/2021
As our city, state, and country confronts a resurgence of COVID-19 and community spread, I write today to update you and your loved ones with the most important information during this ever-changing pandemic landscape. I hope you find it helpful. If you have friends or family who would like to receive this update, they can sign up here.
By the Numbers
Confirmed Cases: 26,435,557
New York State
Confirmed Cases: 1,436,788
Testing Positivity: 4.39%
New York City
(Last 7 days)
Total Cases: 34,474
Confirmed Deaths: 414
This week, the Biden Administration took additional steps to implement a comprehensive National Strategy to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. These steps include increasing the vaccine supply to states, Tribes, and territories and increasing funding to jurisdictions to help turn vaccines into vaccinations. President Biden also announced that starting next week, the first phase of the federal pharmacy program will launch with select pharmacies nationwide starting to offer vaccinations for their communities. More information below and you can read the full update from the White House here.
Expanding Vaccine Supply
The Biden-Harris Administration will increase weekly vaccine supply allocations to states, Tribes, and territories to 10.5 million doses nationwide beginning this week. This is a 22% increase since January 20.
Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination
Beginning February 11, those eligible for the vaccine will have the opportunity to be vaccinated at select pharmacies across the country. This program is a public-private partnership with 21 national pharmacy partners and networks of independent pharmacies representing over 40,000 pharmacy locations nationwide.
As the first phase of this program launches, select retail pharmacies nationwide will receive limited vaccine supply to vaccinate priority groups at no cost. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) worked with states to select initial pharmacy partners based on a number of factors including their ability to reach some of the populations most at risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Americans should check their pharmacy’s website to find out if vaccine is available. More information is available here.
Increasing Reimbursements to States
This week, President Biden announced that his administration will retroactively reimburse states fully for FEMA-eligible services – including masks, gloves, emergency feeding actions, sheltering at risk populations, and mobilization of the National Guard – back dated to the beginning of the pandemic in January 2020. This reimbursement is estimated to total $3-5 billion.
New York City Updates
To find the testing site closest to you, click here, text “COVID TEST” to 855-48, or call 212-COVID19 (212-268-4319).
Vaccinate to Jumpstart the Recovery
New York City’s Vaccine for All campaign has already vaccinated more than half a million New Yorkers and has reached a pace of one New Yorker every three seconds. With 412 vaccination sites spread across the city, from 24/7 mega vaccination sites to dozens of community health clinics, New York City will meet its aggressive goals if we receive enough supply.
New York City is staking out a radical new goal to supercharge that recovery. The City is looking to reach a high level of immunity by reaching a 5 million New Yorkers vaccinated milestone in June.
Vaccine for All Corps
With multiple workforce sites vaccinating more than 3,000 workers a day, New York City is announcing a new goal to bring back the rest of our City workforce in May. To reach these new heights, New York City will immediately recruit 2,000 new Vaccine for All Corps members.
Recruitment of these new workers will be focused in the communities hit hardest by COVID-19. Working within partnerships already established with local nonprofits, the City will aim to recruit workers to serve their own neighborhoods.
These new Vaccine for All Corps members will join the more than 3,900 current vaccination workers at NYC Department of Health sites across the city. The new Vaccine for All Corps members will serve as vaccinators as well as general staff at vaccination sites. The NYC Vaccine Command Center will oversee staffing needs by sites in real-time, shifting and adjusting staff levels to meet demand.
Where Are We Now?
A safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is now available at no cost in New York City. I am working to ensure that the vaccine is easily available to all New Yorkers.
While there is currently a shortage of vaccines that has resulted in some individuals having vaccination appointments postponed, I am working with the Biden Administration, Governor Cuomo, and Mayor de Blasio to ensure that New York receives an adequate supply. President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to accelerate the manufacture of both FDA-approved vaccines.
Please note that the current shortage should not affect any individuals waiting to receive their second dose of the vaccine.
Currently Eligible Groups
As of February 2, in addition to group 1A and those previously eligible as part of group 1B, taxi and limousine drivers (TLC licensees, including ride-hailing app drivers) and restaurant workers are also eligible.
Signing Up To Get Your Vaccine
Once New York City receives more vaccines, and if you are part of the eligible groups, you can use the NYC Vaccine Finder to find a location near you and make an appointment.
Additional COVID-19 vaccine sites will be added as they are available. You can also make an appointment by phone by calling 1-877-VAX-4NYC (1-877-829-4692).
Who is Up Next?
As more Phase 1B groups are determined eligible by New York State, NYC will make that information available to you. It is expected that additional groups eligible in Phase 1B will likely include other frontline essential workers and additional groups of high risk New Yorkers, among others.
While the vaccination process is underway, every New Yorker should continue to wear a mask, social distance, and avoid small and large gatherings. COVID-19 is now spreading rapidly in New York City and throughout the United States. This is a vital time to follow the recommended prevention guidance and do your part to stop the spread.
New York State Updates
As of January 31, New York's State's 7-day average COVID-19 positivity rate has declined for 23 straight days.
Currently, a total of 2 million vaccines have been administered in New York state. Private pharmacies will receive an additional 10% directly from the Federal Government to supplement the doses allocated to them by the state.
As of this week, New York's Health Care Distribution Sites have administered 91% of first doses received from the Federal Government, and 76% of first and second doses. The Vaccine Dashboard will update daily to provide information on the state’s vaccine program.
You can read the full update from the Governor’s office here.
Vaccine Appointments Affected By Winter Storms
It is very possible that your scheduled vaccination appointment could be rescheduled due to winter storms in New York State. You will receive an email or text message rescheduling your vaccination appointment if you fall into this category. As part of the rescheduling process (to the extent possible), timing of your new appointment will be scheduled in alignment with the original appointment's time. If that new appointment time does not work with your schedule, you will be provided with a contact number to identify a different time that may work better.
Where and How Can I Get a Vaccine Through NYS?
Vaccines are available at pharmacies, hospitals, and through local health departments statewide – please contact your provider of choice to schedule your vaccine appointment.
Additionally, there is a network of State-run sites distributing vaccines statewide – to determine eligibility and to schedule an appointment through April 16 at New York State-run vaccination sites, use the Am I Eligible app.
An appointment is required. If you visit a location without an appointment you will not receive a vaccine.
Opening Up NY
This week, Governor Cuomo announced that if New York State's COVID-19 infection rate stays on its current trajectory, indoor dining in New York City can reopen at 25 percent capacity on Valentine's Day. The reopening will be subject to strict state guidance, which can be found here.
Additionally, marriage receptions will be able to resume in accordance with state guidance on March 15. Events must be approved by the local health department. There will be a 50 percent capacity limit and no more than 150 people can attend the event. All patrons must be tested prior to the event.
Yankee Stadium Mass Vaccination Site
This week, it was announced that a mass vaccination site at Yankee Stadium is under development through a partnership between New York State, New York City, SOMOS Community Care, the New York National Guard, and the New York Yankees. With the Bronx positivity rate currently at a concerning 7.6%, this site will be reserved specifically for Bronx residents. Information concerning the opening of the facility and scheduling process will be released in the coming days.
Getting Vaccines to Underserved Communities
Governor Cuomo has announced the deployment of ten more community vaccination kits to underserved communities. Specifically, kits are being deployed to four NYCHA Senior Housing Developments, 2 public housing sites in Rochester and Hempstead, and three church and community center locations in the Bronx and Brooklyn. The establishment of the Yankee Stadium site, as well as the deployment of these ten community vaccination kits, bolster New York State's efforts to equitably distribute the COVID-19 vaccine in communities that are underserved by traditional healthcare institutions.
Following last weekend’s deployments, and as the federal vaccine supply increases, New York will continue to deploy these kits until pop-up sites have been established at all 33 NYCHA Senior Housing Developments which house more than 7,600 seniors. Pop-up locations will also continue to be established at other public housing complexes statewide, as well as at more than 300 churches and cultural centers which have volunteered to house these sites through the Vaccine Equity Task Force.
Extended Open Enrollment
As part of New York's ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the Open Enrollment Period for uninsured New Yorkers will be extended through March 31, 2021. New Yorkers can apply for coverage through NY State of Health, New York's Official Health Plan Marketplace, or directly through insurers.
Extending the Open Enrollment Period to March 31, 2021 helps to align New York with the federal Public Health Emergency which was recently extended to April 20, 2021. This extension allows individuals eligible for Qualified Health Plan insurance additional time to enroll for coverage in 2021 and means that enrollment remains open for all NY State of Health programs, which is especially important during the ongoing public health emergency.
Coverage start dates will vary:
Individuals who are eligible for other NY State of Health programs - Medicaid, Essential Plan and Child Health Plus - can enroll year-round. New Yorkers can apply for coverage through NY State of Health online at nystateofhealth.ny.gov, by phone at 1-855-355-5777, and by connecting with a free enrollment assister.
COVID Alert NY
As a reminder, New York State has launched COVID Alert NY, an app to provide COVID-19 exposure alerts to help protect your community while maintaining your privacy. More information here.
The State is strongly encouraging eligible and healthy New Yorkers to donate blood. During this crisis, we have seen severe blood shortages across NYS. Your donation could save a life. More information here.
As I make this request, I am aware of and working to reverse the antiquated three month deferral policy for MSM who wish to donate blood. Earlier this year, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and I were successful in getting the FDA to decrease the 12 month deferral period to three months, but we need to completely get rid of this policy that is not based on current science, stigmatizes the LGBTQIA+ community, and undermines crucial efforts to increase the nation’s blood supply as we grapple with the coronavirus crisis.
As always, your concerns still and always remain my top priority. Please do not hesitate to email me through my website.
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Carolyn B. Maloney