Coronavirus Vaccine Updates: US scrambles to clear backlog of vaccination delays

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- The United States is scrambling to clear the backlog of vaccination delays after the winter storms.

There is some news of positive trends. Cases are falling nationwide by 73%, and hospitalizations have dropped by nearly 55%.

Still, concerns of a new wave persist. New York reported its first case of the South Africa variant in a Long Island resident, and the vaccines may be less protective against it.

"If in fact, this becomes more dominant, we may have to get a version of the vaccine that is directed specifically against the South African isolate," Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

Dr. Fauci also predicted that Americans could be wearing masks in to 2022.

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Here are more of today's headlines:

Johnson & Johnson expects to deliver 20M doses of vaccine by end of March
Johnson & Johnson said it expects to deliver 20 million doses of its single-shot vaccine by the end of March. The vaccine could be authorized by the FDA as early as Friday.

Rapper who died of COVID honored in Bronx
A rapper was honored in his hometown one year after he died from COVID-19.

Frederick Thomas, known to fans as Fred the Godson, died last April after several weeks in the hospital at the age of 41. Friends and family braved the snow and rain Monday to see the corner of Leggett Avenue and Kelly Street be re-named in his honor.

Connecticut adjusts vaccine rollout to age-based system
Gov. Ned Lamont is making a major change to Connecticut's vaccination rollout schedule. He announced plans Monday to move to a mostly age-based system in an effort to make the rollout less complicated.

Beginning March 1, anyone aged 55 to 64 will be allowed to get a COVID-19 vaccine. They'll be followed by other groups of residents by age. However, school staff, including teachers, will be allowed to get vaccinated in March.

$1 billion in unpaid NYC rent due to COVID pandemic: Check your neighborhood
One billion dollars. That's how much tenants haven't been paying in rent in New York City alone since the pandemic started.

Landlords can't evict people in New York right now, due to a moratorium. But many of them have been filing the paperwork to do so as soon as they are legally able.

7 On Your Side Investigates found big disparities in the eviction notices that have already been filed, which are affecting more people in minority communities and in the area's poorest neighborhoods.

House Budget Committee votes to advance COVID relief bill with 3rd stimulus check
The House Budget Committee voted Monday to advance President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion relief package, setting up the legislation aimed at fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout to go to the House floor for a vote later this week.

The package includes direct aid to small businesses, $1,400 direct checks to Americans making less than $75,000 annually, an increase in the child tax credit, direct funding to state and local governments and more money for vaccine distribution. The bill also includes funding for schools both at the secondary and higher education level.

Famed rock producer finds 2nd act as bed and breakfast innkeeper
Folks looking to get out of the house and take a break during this pandemic have headed to a bed and breakfast in Massachusetts that offers peace and serenity at this stressful time. But what makes this place truly unique is the innkeeper: A former music business insider with plenty of stories to tell.

US COVID-19 death toll surpasses 500K milestone amid race to vaccinate
The United States has surpassed 500,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, according to an accounting by Johns Hopkins University.

NYC movie theaters can soon reopen for 1st time amid pandemic
Movie theaters across New York City will soon be able to reopen for the first time since they were shut down amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting March 5, theaters in New York City will be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity, which is in conjunction with the rest of New York state. COVID precautions such as assigned seating will be in place and theaters cannot exceed 50 people per screen.

NJ houses of worship, religious services increase capacity
Governor Phil Murphy announced houses of worship and religious services can operate at 50% capacity effective immediately.

Nets, Knicks, Rangers to welcome fans back to Barclays, MSG with restrictions
No more cardboard cutouts, and no more empty stands. New York City sports teams are about to welcome back fans during the coronavirus pandemic, albeit with restrictions. Nearly a year after the NBA shut down, the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks will welcome roughly 2,000 fans each to their respective games Tuesday night.

Some COVID vaccine dosages at Jones Beach improperly stored, new shots scheduled
Some COVID vaccines administered at New York state's mass vaccination site at Jones Beach State Park had exceeded the permitted temperature, officials announced Monday. All those who received the improperly stored vaccine on February 15 have been notified and have had a new shot rescheduled.

"New Yorkers' health and safety is our top priority, and due to this vaccine's very specific temperature sensitivity, we have a process in place to identify if any temperature excursions occur," New York State Department of Health Public Information Officer Jill Montag said. "This process worked, allowing us to quickly pinpoint this issue, identify the extremely small number of individuals impacted, and immediately begin taking action. The Department of Health has determined there was no health risk to New Yorkers, and we have contacted everyone involved to reschedule their appointments as soon as possible."

2 more vaccine megasites opening, state to provide busing
The state is opening two more COVID vaccination sites in New York City, and beginning Wednesday, the sites at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and York College in Queens will be able to vaccinate up to 3,000 people a day. Governor Andrew Cuomo toured the Medgar Evers site Monday, when he also announced the MTA will run enhanced bus service to connect residents of the boroughs to the two vaccination sites. Vaccines given out at the state-run sites are by appointment only and are not part of the state's weekly allocation. Booking opened Saturday morning for residents of the adjacent neighborhoods only. After one week, scheduling will open to all residents of the borough.

Overnight subway hours increase
The MTA increased overnight subway service Monday, taking one step closer to the resumption of full 24-hour service. Since May 6, the subway has been closed from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. to allow for enhanced cleaning, but the nightly closure has now been shortened to 2 a.m. to 4 a.m.

Fans can return to some NJ arenas, stadiums next Monday
Fans can return to some arenas and stadiums in New Jersey starting next Monday, March 1, Governor Phil Murphy announced Monday. Any venue that holds more than 5,000 people will be allowed to open at 10 percent capacity if it's indoors and 15% if it's outdoors. It applies to both sports and entertainment venues.

Teachers key to COVID-19 infections in 1 district, CDC study finds
A new study finds that teachers may be more important drivers of COVID-19 transmission in schools than students. The paper released Monday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies nine COVID-19 transmission clusters in elementary schools in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta in December and January. That included one cluster where 16 teachers, students and relatives of students at home were infected. In only one of the nine clusters was a student clearly the first documented case, while a teacher was the first documented case in four clusters. In another four, the first case was unclear. Of the nine clusters, eight involved probable teacher-to-student transmission. Two clusters saw teachers infect each other during in-person meetings or lunches, with a teacher then infecting other students.

Biden boosts Paycheck Protection Program lending to smallest businesses
President Joe Biden announced changes Monday to target more federal pandemic assistance to the nation's smallest businesses and ventures owned by women and people of color. Biden says a lot of these mom and pop businesses "got muscled out of the way" by larger businesses seeking federal money in the early days of the pandemic. He said changes taking effect Wednesday will provide long overdue aid to these smaller enterprises that he says are being "crushed" by the pandemic-driven economic downturn.

"America's small businesses are hurting, hurting badly and they need help now," Biden said.

World's largest snow maze nearly doubles in size to allow for social distancing
A snow maze in Canada, known as the world's largest, is even bigger this year to make sure everyone has enough room for social distancing. "A Maze in Corn" earned itself a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2019.

NYC appoints COVID Recovery Czar
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that School Construction Authority CEO Lorraine Grillo would serve as New York CIty's new COVID Recovery Czar. The mayor said Grillo's job will be to coordinate with city agencies and private business to facilitate a "recovery for all."
"Today I'm bringing forward some new leadership to make this happen. Big job, it takes someone who has accomplished so much already. Lorraine Grillo is someone who is so respected in this city. I'm naming her as our senior advisor. I'm going to refer to her as our recovery czar," de Blasio said.

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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