Coronavirus Vaccine Updates: Infection more widespread in US than official count, study finds

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- A new study suggests COVID-19 infections in the United States were far more widespread than the official count due to the many asymptomatic infections.

Researchers tested healthy adults for antibodies and found that 6.6% of those tested were positive, even though they never had symptoms.

That suggests there were 16 million asymptomatic cases before the end of last September.

Johns Hopkins University at that time reported a total of just 7.2 million cases, asymptomatic or otherwise.

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Here are more of today's headlines:

NYC COVID variants update
The NYC Health Department has released the updated data on variants.

Portion of new cases caused by:

- B.1.526 (NYC): 45.1%
- B.1.1.7 (UK): 17.6%
- B.1.429/7 (CA): 2.4%

In total 65.1% of new cases in most recent week are caused by variants, up from 52.4% in prior week.

Rangers coaching staff to miss game due to COVID protocols
The entire New York Rangers coaching staff will miss Wednesday's game against the Philadelphia Flyers due to COVID protocols, the team announced on Twitter. They have called up coaches from their minor league team to coach the game.

Corey Johnson quarantining following exposure
Speaker of the New York City Council Corey Johnson says he is quarantining following exposure to COVID-19.

"Today I learned that I was exposed to COVID-19," he said in a statement. "After speaking with medical professionals, I immediately got tested for COVID and am awaiting the results. I have begun quarantining, per CDC guidance. Going forward, I will continue following CDC guidelines. Fortunately, I have no symptoms and I'm feeling great. I already have received my first vaccine shot, and am excited to get the second dose soon. I will continue my City Council work from home in the coming days. Take care everyone -- this isn't over. Please continue to wear a mask, wash your hands and get vaccinated if you're eligible."

Columbia University says students coming back this fall
Columbia University says it is planning to return students to in-person instruction this fall, University President Lee Bollinger announced in an email. Bollinger said that appears possible because students will be vaccinated.

"We expect to have the capacity and supply to vaccinate all Columbia affiliates," Bollinger said. "Many students, faculty, and staff will have been vaccinated in other locations, including abroad."

The university will return to in-person instruction and research and resume full capacity in residence halls for undergraduate and graduate programs.

Indoor fitness classes to resume, curfews lifted for some businesses
Gov. Cuomo announced indoor fitness classes, primarily in New York City, can reopen on Monday, March 22. He also announced the 11 p.m. curfew for casinos, movie theaters, bowling alleys, billiard halls, gyms, and fitness centers have been lifted. Curfew for restaurants and bars remains in place, and will be reevaluated "in April."

NY cluster zones to be lifted
Starting Monday, March 22, the final five yellow zone clusters in New York will be lifted, Gov. Cuomo says. The remaining clusters are in east bronx, west Bronx, Manhattan, Newburgh, New Windsor, Queens Kew Gardens and Forest Hills.

All NJ schools expected to be fully open for start of 2021-2022 academic year
Governor Phil Murphy said Wednesday that New Jersey expects to have all schools open for full-time in person learning by the start of the 2021-2022 academic year. The state has now distributed more than 3 million COVID-19 vaccines, with 1.1 million people fully vaccinated, and Murphy said the focus on vaccinating teachers will only increase safety at schools that are already showing low transmission rates. He said there have only been 800 cases linked to in-person learning since August 1, out of 565,000 confirmed cases statewide. He also said the biggest shift back to in-person learning has been in the last week, and more than half of all schools are at least on a hybrid system.

"(Thursday) marks one year since all of our schools closed and transitioned to all-remote learning," he said. "Now is the time for all of our schools to meaningfully move forward with a return to in-person instruction, whether it be full-time or through a hybrid schedule."

3M vaccines administered in NYC
New York City has now administered 3,019,434 COVID vaccination doses. Daily hospitalizations in the city were again above the threshold of 200 at 274, the number of confirmed cases of COVID was 3,001 for Tuesday, and the 7-day positivity average was 6.44%.

NY public-facing workers eligible for vaccine
Starting today March 17, public-facing public employees are eligible for the COVID vaccine. That includes government employees, not-for-profit workers, and essential public-facing building service workers. A state official confirmed to Eyewitness News that postal workers are eligible for the vaccine under the new guidance.

NYC's St. Patrick Day parade, mass live-streamed amid pandemic
This St. Patrick's Day, St. Patrick's Cathedral is open at 25% capacity, but Mass was once again live-streamed. The annual celebration of the patron saint of Ireland was not held in person last year as the pandemic began to shut down New York. Mayor Bill de Blasio attended Mass at 8:30 a.m., but he had to get up early because before that, he attend a virtual St. Patrick's Day parade. It began on Lexington Avenue near East 26th Street at 6:30 a.m. A small but significant group of marchers in this year's parade included first responders and essential workers, two groups that the parade honored to mark the ongoing pandemic and the 20th anniversary of the Sept 11th attacks.

"We're so happy to be here today to celebrate St. Patrick's Day and to honor this New York institution and more importantly to honor all the first responders and essential workers," said Hilary Beirne, Chairman, St. Patrick's Day Foundation. "We are in essence, the sign of a new beginning."

Trump assures supporters that COVID-19 vaccine is safe
Former President Donald Trump again urged people to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, saying he would recommend vaccination to "a lot of people that don't want to get it, and a lot of those people voted for me." In an interview Tuesday night on Fox News, Trump acknowledged that people were free to decide for themselves whether they would be vaccinated against COVID-19.

"We have our freedoms and we have to live by that, and I agree with that also," he said. "But it is a great vaccine. It is a safe vaccine, and it is something that works."

MTA Heroes: Mask checkers, traffic surveyors keep us safe
Each week, we are recognizing MTA heroes among us. They've been on the front lines during the pandemic. And last June, when the agency started to require masks for all riders, teams got to work to start enforcement. Essential to that work are 50 traffic checkers and mask surveyors. The unit canvasses the system daily to track mask usage among customers. The data is used to help the MTA plan its enforcement campaigns like the "mask force" and signage you see on the platforms and inside trains. According to their results, 99% of customers wear masks on buses and 98% on subways.

How our daily language has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic
Major events often add to our collective vocabulary, but most of those events are short-lived. That has not been the case with the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, this is the longest major event in the lifetime of everyone in the world--unless that person is well over 100 years old and can remember the 1918 flu pandemic.

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.


Positive COVID-19 cases by zip code - New York City

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