Coronavirus Vaccine Updates: Infection rates continue to dip, variant concerns remain

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- There's encouraging news about infection rates, but some doctors warn this could be the calm before the storm as variants of the novel coronavirus spread.

More states are easing COVID restrictions, but experts warn now is not the time for complacency.

"In New York, things have been trending in the right direction for at least three weeks now which is a very good sign," said Dr. Ryan Ribeira, ABC News Medical Contributor. "That said, indoor dining is a pretty high-risk activity, and opening up shortly before a busy day like Valentine's Day does seem pretty aggressive to me."

Restaurants in New York City will reopen for indoor dining at 25% capacity on Friday, and in the race to vaccinate Americans, major pharmacy chains are rolling out their programs this week. Walgreens begins accepting appointments Tuesday and CVS on Thursday.

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Here are more of today's headlines:

11 more pop-up vaccination sites coming to NY this week
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced 11 more community-based pop-up vaccination sites are coming online this week at community centers, public housing complexes and cultural centers.

The sites are expected to vaccinate more than 3,100 people throughout the week, with more sites coming online every week. Click here for the full list.

Jill Biden calls for free access to community college for COVID-19 economic recovery
Jill Biden is pushing free access to community college and training programs, saying the schools will be an important part of Biden administration efforts to rebuild the economy.

A longtime community college professor and advocate, the first lady said people struggling to get by during the coronavirus-induced economic slump need access to these schools.

Post COVID-19 brain-related symptoms may be common, study indicates
Problems remembering names and conversations, difficulty paying attention, and slower processing speeds -- these are all symptoms that people are experiencing post-COVID-19 infections. A new University of California, San Francisco study indicates these brain-related symptoms may be quite common.

NYC First Lady gets vaccines
New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray received her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday afternoon. She got the shot at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn.

McCray is 66, which makes her eligible for the vaccine now. Her husband, Mayor Bill de Blasio, is not yet eligible because he is 59.

7-day average positivity rate lowest since Dec.1 in NY
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday New York's seven-day average COVID-19 positivity rate has dropped to 4.38%, its lowest since December 1.

"Our post-holiday surge reduction is continuing, and that is the direct result of the toughness of New Yorkers who have sacrificed and done what is needed to beat back this invisible enemy," Cuomo said. "Our infection rate is the lowest it has been since December 1, so we're back to where we started on the holiday surge. Now more than ever, it's critically important we stay united and keep the momentum on our side - especially as new variants of the virus threaten to upend the progress we have made. Simultaneously, we also must continue to get New Yorkers vaccinated as quickly and fairly as possible. We've made great progress on that front, but one factor continues to hold us back - the supply. Thankfully, the new federal government has begun righting the wrongs of the past administration and the future is looking bright. If we all just stay disciplined and keep doing what we need to do, we will win this war."

WHO: Coronavirus unlikely to have leaked from China lab
The coronavirus is unlikely to have leaked from a Chinese lab and is more likely to have jumped to humans from an animal, a World Health Organization team has concluded, an expert said Tuesday as the group wrapped up a visit to explore the origins of the virus. The Wuhan Institute of Virology in central China has collected extensive virus samples, leading to allegations that it may have caused the original outbreak by leaking the virus into the surrounding community. China has strongly rejected that possibility and has promoted other theories for the virus's origins. The WHO team that visited Wuhan, where the first cases of COVID-19 were discovered in December 2019, is considering several theories for how the disease first ended up in humans, leading to a pandemic that has now killed more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

Walgreens reports outage for COVID-19 vaccine appointment website
Walgreens has reported an outage on its COVID-19 vaccine appointment scheduling website Tuesday morning. The company said in a statement, "We're experiencing a temporary outage on our scheduler/website and apologize for the inconvenience. We're working to resolve the matter as soon as possible." Users logging onto the website were directed to a page saying "Updates in progress."

House Democrats' stimulus check plan would exclude families earning more than $200k
House Democrats have rejected a Republican proposal to significantly narrow eligibility for further stimulus payments and are moving forward with legislation that would provide $1,400 stimulus payments per person. But the payments would phase out faster than earlier rounds and completely cut off individuals earning more than $100,000 and couples earning more than $200,000, according to the bill text, which the House Ways and Means Committee is set to debate Wednesday. Under the plan put forward Monday by Chairman Richard Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat, the full payment would go to individuals earning less than $75,000 a year and married couples earning less than $150,000 -- like previous stimulus checks. Joint filers would receive $2,800 plus another $1,400 per dependent.

1 million COVID vaccines administered in NYC
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city has administered more than 1 million vaccines. New York City has given out 1,032,158 vaccines to be exact as of Tuesday morning's press conference.

Citi Field Set to Open for Vaccines
Citi Field is set to open for vaccinations starting on Wednesday, February 10. Half of the doses there are reserved for Queens residents and the other half is for drivers with TLC licenses and food delivery workers. The site will be open 24 hours a day from Wednesday to Saturday. CLICK HERE for signup information or call 877-VAX4NYC.

Rockland vaccination clinic rescheduled
The Rockland County Department of Health announced that the COVID-19 2nd dose vaccination clinic scheduled for Tuesday, February 9, 2021, from 1 PM - 5 PM has been rescheduled for Wednesday, February 10, 2021, from 1 PM - 5 PM due to the weather. Anyone who has a 2nd dose appointment for Tuesday will receive a COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday at the same time as the original appointment. No new appointment will be scheduled -- come at the same time as the appointment scheduled for Tuesday.

Top 7 COVID vaccine questions answered
You had questions about COVID-19 vaccines and 7 On Your Side is getting you answers from doctors on the front line of the pandemic.


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