Coronavirus Vaccine Updates: Scientists concerned over New York's 'escape variant'

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Monday, March 15, 2021
Concern over New York's 'escape variant'
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Andrew Dymburt has more on the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Health officials are warning about a COVID-19 variant spreading in New York, saying the current vaccines may be less effective against the new strain as more Americans are getting the shots.

"Some scientists are calling this the 'escape variant' because it may have the ability to avoid our immune system," ABC News medical contributor Dr. Alok Patel said. "Possibly making our treatments less effective."

Meanwhile, nearly half the country is easing pandemic restrictions, eyeing a return to normal. Still, Dr. Anthony Fauci is cautioning Americans to remain vigilant against the virus.

The White House is laying out a new hopeful benchmark, with the Fourth of July as a symbolic goal to motivate Americans to keep following the rules.

More than 11% of adults are now fully vaccinated.

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Here are more of today's headlines:

UConn women's basketball head coach test positive for COVID

UConn head women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, March 14. The Hall of Famer is isolating at his home and is not experiencing any symptoms.

Connecticut to accelerate vaccine schedule

Governor Ned Lamont announced that he is accelerating Connecticut's age-based rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. The revised schedule, which tentatively plans for the vaccine to expand to all adults over the age of 16 by April 5, comes as the state was informed by the Biden administration that it should anticipate receiving a significant increase in supplies of all three federally authorized vaccines over the next several weeks.

Bethpage Air Show is on

The Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach will happen this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo says. Social distancing guidelines and masks will be enforced.

Cuomo to receive vaccine in coming days

Gov. Cuomo says he will get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at a pop-up center in the Black community in the coming days.

"I want to take the Johnson & Johnson, because I want to make the point that the Johnson & Johnson is safe," Cuomo said. "So I'm going to take mine in the coming days."

Hospitalizations below threshold in NYC

For the first time in months, the daily COVID hospitalizations in New York City were below the threshold of 200 at 154. The other indicators were still above their thresholds with daily positive cases at 3,123 and a 7-day positivity average of 6.16%. The mayor vowed to keep operating the city's 24/7 vaccination sites during overnight hours despite the state halting overnight vaccines at the state-run Javits Center location.

Manhattan DA Candidate Liz Crotty tests positive for COVID

Manhattan District Attorney candidate Liz Crotty announced she has tested positive for COVID-19.

"After feeling particularly run down last night, I took a COVID test out of caution and the test results came back positive. As New Yorkers, we all know the dangers of this virus and the uncertainty of these times," she said in a statement. "Running for Manhattan District Attorney, I've had the privilege of meeting other New Yorkers every day to listen to their concerns and to find out what they want from their next DA. Now, like so many others, I must isolate and pray to heal. It's unfortunate that during this pandemic candidates running for office were forced to petition and interact with thousands of people to gain access to the ballot. All of our lives were put at risk in order to serve the great people of New York - and now I am facing the consequences of a bad decision by those in charge/ This situation is scary, but it is also upsetting. My commitment to becoming your next DA is unwavering and when it's safe, I'll be right back on the campaign explaining why your safety and the future of our City is my biggest concern."

IRS says 'no reason to be concerned' if $1,400 hasn't hit bank account yet

Americans are starting to see the next round of stimulus payments hit their bank accounts. The payments are worth up to $1,400 per person and were included in the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill signed by President Joe Biden. The time frame is in line with how fast the December payments went out, which started being processed three days after then-President Donald Trump signed the bill. But the payments won't all go out at once. Those whose bank information is on file with the Internal Revenue Service will likely get the money first, because it will be directly deposited into their accounts. Others may receive paper checks or prepaid debit cards in the mail.

When did you realize the COVID pandemic changed everything?

Many of us had a moment, most often occurring in March 2020, when we realized that COVID-19 had completely changed our lives forever. Even though we've managed to move forward and adapt to a new normal, that memory still sticks with us. Tell us: What was that moment to you?

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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