Coronavirus Vaccine Updates: CDC director warns of 4th wave as some states lift restrictions

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- The first doses of Johnson & Johnson's single-shot vaccine are headed to the public, but even though it's a positive sign, experts say it's not the time for a victory lap.

There are words of caution from the CDC, as at least seven states have lifted their stay-at-home orders and mask mandates.

"Please hear me clearly," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. "At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained."

Dr. Walensky is warning of a potential fourth surge of the virus, saying the numbers have stalled in several states, leveling off at 70,000 daily cases and 2,000 daily deaths.

"Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know could stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, not when we are so close," Dr. Walensky said.

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Here are more of today's headlines:



Spectators soon allowed at Suffolk County high school sports
Spectators will be allowed to attend high school sports in Suffolk County starting Monday. The decision means that two spectators per participant can attend the games.

For outdoor games, two spectators are allowed per player for both the home and away teams. However, for indoor games, the spectators are only allowed for players on the home team.

Dolly Parton gets COVID-19 vaccine she helped fund with $1M donation
Dolly Parton has received her first shot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine she helped fund with a $1 million donation to Vanderbilt University last year.

Parton chronicled the vaccination process in a video posted Tuesday to social media. In it, she sang a parody of her hit song "Jolene" with new lyrics imploring people to get vaccinated.

Biden administration to prioritize COVID-19 vaccinations for school teachers in pharmacy program
President Joe Biden is directing states to prioritize vaccinating all teachers during the month of March, and announced that the federal government will help in the effort through its partnership with retail pharmacies.

Biden said his goal is for every pre-kindergarten through 12th grade educator, school staff member and childcare worker to receive at least one shot by the end of March.

Biden says US will have enough COVID-19 vaccine for all adults by end of May
President Joe Biden said Tuesday that the U.S. expects to take delivery of enough coronavirus vaccines for all adult Americans by the end of May, two months earlier than anticipated, as his administration announced that drugmaker Merck & Co. will help produce rival Johnson & Johnson's newly approved shot.

With the bolstered supply, Biden also announced he would be using the powers of the federal government to direct all states to prioritize vaccinating teachers, and said the federal government would provide the doses directly through its pharmacy program. He challenged states to administer at least one dose of the vaccine to all teachers by the end of March as part of his administration's efforts to reopen more schools across the nation.

New York legislators will pass bill repealing Cuomo's emergency powers
State legislators are in the final stages of formulating a bill that will scale back Gov. Andrew Cuomo's pandemic powers moving forward.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced Tuesday that the Legislature will pass legislation repealing the temporary emergency powers that were granted to the governor last year at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Texas will end statewide mask mandate next week, Gov. Abbott says
Texas is lifting its mask mandate, Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday, making it the largest state to end an order intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that has killed more than 42,000 Texans.

The Republican governor has faced sharp criticism from his party over the mandate, which was imposed eight months ago, as well as other COVID-19 restrictions on businesses that Texas will also scuttle starting next week. The mask order was only ever lightly enforced, even during the worst outbreaks of the pandemic.

NJ church getting J&J vaccine
The Johnson & Johnson one dose vaccination will be administered at the New Hope Baptist Church on Monday, March 8. To register for a vaccination, please call 973-622-4547. The registration deadline is Thursday, March 4, at 1pm. The lines are extremely busy, so callers are urged to keep trying until they speak to a staff member. If you have health insurance, please have that information readily available.

Merck to produce J&J vaccine
Drugmaker Merck & Co. will help produce rival Johnson & Johnson's newly approved coronavirus vaccine in an effort to expand supply more quickly, a Biden administration official confirmed Tuesday. The announcement comes as the White House looks to speed the production of the single-dose vaccine. Officials have said J&J faced unexpected production issues with its vaccine and produced only 3.9 million doses ahead of its receiving emergency use authorization on Saturday. The company says it is on pace to deliver 100 million doses by the end of June.

CT city to vaccinate homebound residents
The Stratford Health Department is partnering with Stratford EMS in order to bring COVID-19 vaccines to residents determined to be "homebound" and unable to safely access the vaccine clinics being offered by Stratford Health. "Operation Homeward Bound" will pair EMS personnel who have been qualified as "vaccinators" through the state Department of Public Health and partnering them with another "Healthcare Professional" like a Registered Nurse to make up "vaccine teams" to deliver COVID vaccine services to those individuals determined by Stratford Health Department as being "homebound." The Stratford Health Department encourages residents over the age of 55 that believe they meet this specific definition to call 203-385-4090 or email health@townofstratford.com

Nursing home cases plummet, indicated vaccine is working
COVID cases in nursing homes are continuing to plummet, an encouraging sign that the vaccine effort has been extremely effective so far. The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, the industry group representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and long term care facilities, released a report showing the lowest number of new COVID cases since the federal government started tracking cases back in May 2020. That data shows nursing homes have seen an 82% decline in new cases among residents since the peak during the week of December 20 of last year, when there were more than 30,000 new resident cases.

Port Authority traffic down
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey reported that in January 2021, COVID-19 has continued to impact volumes across its transportation facilities. When compared to pre-COVID volumes from January 2019, airport passenger volumes are down an estimated 73%, PATH average weekday ridership is down 79%, and bridge and tunnel traffic is down 11%. The seaport continued to demonstrate resilience and ended January 2021 with an increase of 16% from January 2019. The Port Authority has estimated that these pandemic-related volume drops will result in a revenue loss of approximately $3 billion for the 24-month period beginning in March 2020. The bistate agency continues to advocate in Washington, D.C. to secure federal funding to offset this steep revenue decline.

Devils fans return to Prudential Center
New Jersey Devils fans will return to the Prudential Center for the first time in nearly a year Tuesday, when about 2,000 fans will be allowed to attend the game against the New York Islanders. Right now, the state of New Jersey is allowing larger indoor venues to operate at 10% capacity. Face coverings and social distancing will be required, and those who buy tickets together will be able to sit together.

Employees going on 'fake commutes' to help separate home and remote work
If you are working from home, you probably do not miss the commute into the office every day, but for some people, keeping their home office and their home life from colliding has been struggle. So now there is something called a "fake commute." Office worker Susan Jaworski says she started doing a "fake commute" for a very good reason.

Nurse who got COVID-19 after vaccination urges others to still get the vaccine
A nurse in California who got COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated is sharing her story because she wants people to know that even though she got sick, the vaccine works. As soon as she could, registered nurse Lisa Blais got in line to get the Pfizer vaccine.

"Vaccinations became available to us around the beginning of December," she said. "And I was vaccinated the first week they came out."

By early January, she got her second dose. But six weeks later, she started feeling sick, tired and congested. A COVID-19 test revealed she got the virus.

NYC hits 2M vaccinated milestone
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City has administered 2 million vaccines as of Tuesday morning. He also announced a new vaccination center would be opening in Co-Op City in the Bronx. It will be open at 131 Dreiser Loop, Thursday-Tuesday 8 a.m.-7 p.m.

Johnson & Johnson vaccine coming to NYCy
The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is expected to arrive in New York over the next few days, and deployment should begin almost immediately. The vaccine started shipping from a Kentucky warehouse on Monday, with an initial 3.9 million doses expected to arrive at destinations across the country within 24 to 48 hours. The state of New York expects to receive 164,800 doses this week.

WHO official says it's 'unrealistic' to think COVID-19 pandemic will end soon
A senior World Health Organization official said Monday it was "premature" and "unrealistic" to think the pandemic might be stopped by the end of the year, but that the recent arrival of effective vaccines could at least help dramatically reduce hospitalizations and death. The world's singular focus right now should be to keep transmission of COVID-19 as low as possible, said Dr. Michael Ryan, director of WHO's emergencies program.

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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