Coronavirus Vaccine Updates: Human behavior causes more spread than variants, study finds

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- Researchers say despite COVID-19 variants being more easily transmissible, the bigger impact on the spread of the virus comes from human behavior.

A new study at the University of Washington found one variant spread faster in counties where officials were slower to order lockdowns and other measures.

The study looked at thousands of virus samples from between February and July 2020.

The findings were published in the journal "Science Translational Medicine."

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Here's how NJ residents can get free rides to COVID-19 vaccine sites
New Jersey Transit is working to make it easier for people to get vaccinated. It kicked off a partnership Tuesday that offers complimentary rides to and from vaccination sites.

The "Vaxride" program is funded through sponsors and will provide about 11,000 New Jerseyans with two free round trips to get vaccinated.

Man from New Jersey stuck in COVID-ravaged India
A man from New Jersey who traveled to India to care for his sick father is now stuck there as a second wave of COVID-19 ravages the country.

The U.S. on Tuesday began restricting travel from India, with the White House citing the devastating rise in coronavirus cases in the country and the emergence of potentially dangerous variants.

When Ashu Mahajan left the U.S. in mid-April to care for his 75-year-old father, who was hospitalized with COVID in New Delhi, it was just supposed to be short term trip. Sadly, by the time he arrived, his dad had been intubated and never regained consciousness. Now, he doesn't know when he can get home.

Calls for help increase at domestic violence center during COVID
Domestic violence incidents have increased during COVID and during the first month of the pandemic, the call lines went silent at a help center in Bergen County when it was assumed they were closed.

The Center for Hope and Safety then put out word they were open and calls for help flooded in like never before.

US to shift COVID-19 vaccines amid waning demand
The Biden administration will begin shifting how it allocates COVID-19 shots to states, moving doses from states with lower demand to those with stronger interest in vaccines, an administration official said Tuesday. The change away from a strict by-population allocation comes as demand for the coronavirus vaccines has dropped nationwide, but especially precipitously in some areas, with some states turning down part or all of their weekly dose allotments. The federal government will now shift some of those doses to areas with higher demand, in an effort to speed shots in those areas. The administration says that when states decline the vaccine they have been allocated, that surplus will shift to states still awaiting doses to meet demand. Those states would have the shots available whenever demand for vaccines in their states increases - a key priority of the Biden administration.

Vaccination rates in these NJ communities are lagging, state says
As New Jersey prepares to move ahead with its reopening plans, including the elimination of some restrictions later this month, the state says there are still some large towns and cities that are falling behind when it comes to vaccinating residents. Gov. Phil Murphy highlighted 16 communities with populations over 10,000 that have fewer than 40% of residents with one dose. Murphy said having the numbers out there is important to "ensure everyone is working and pulling together."

"This is not going to be a competition between towns and communities, or meant to shame any community," Murphy said.

Businesses plan for May 19's major reopening in NY
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a "major reopening" of New York state scheduled for May 19, when capacity limits will be fully lifted for retail stores, restaurants, bars, gyms, fitness centers, recreational venues, hair salons, offices, and more. Businesses are trying to plan and get things in place for that day, although many say it will be sometime before they are able to return to normal. The move is being made in conjunction with New Jersey and Connecticut, though there are some differences in how the states will operate.

No more snow days in 2021-2022 New York City schools calendar
The New York City Department of Eductation released their calendar for the next school year, and there are some pandemic practices from this past year. The most notable change is that there will be no more snow days.

"The DOE will shift all students to remote instruction in lieu of canceling schools due to severe weather conditions," the Department of Education said.

Another big change, Election Day will be a remote learning day for students as well. The 2021-22 school year will begin on September 13 and, per state law, includes 180 days in session, inclusive of four staff development days during which students will not be in attendance.

Ex-NY Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver released from prison on furlough
Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been released from a federal prison on furlough while he awaits potential placement to home confinement. Silver has served less than one year of a 6 1/2-year sentence, but the Bureau of Prisons has leeway to release prisoners who are at heightened risk of death due to coronavirus. The 77-year-old Silver was being held at FCI Otisville in Orange County and began serving his sentence in August after years of fending off going behind bars in a corruption case.

NJ offers free brews to those who get vaccinated this month
A vaccination card will be the ticket for a free brewski in the Garden State this month. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced a "Shot and a Beer" program that provides a free glass of beer at participating locations to anyone over 21 who gets their first vaccination dose this month. The plan is part of Murphy's multipronged approach to increasing the state's vaccination numbers and reach its goal of 4.7 million residents vaccinated by the end of June.

How many people in your area are hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Most states have opened up COVID-19 vaccination to everyone 16 and older, but not everyone is lining up to get the shot. With the recent temporary pause on the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, doctors worry about an increase in vaccine hesitancy that may not be warranted. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey, the CDC found that as many as a third of adults in some areas reported being hesitant about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. These rates are highest in the states of Wyoming and North Dakota, and lowest in Massachusetts, Vermont and California.

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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