NEW YORK (WABC) -- The rollout of the first COVID-19 vaccine is underway, marking a major turning point in the United States' fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The FDA approved emergency authorization of Pfizer's vaccine for last week, and this week, officials have made significant progress toward approving a second.
The optimism comes as the nation hits a startling new surge in cases, with more than 100,000 Americans in a hospital battling the virus.
Just days ago, the nation experienced its deadliest day of the pandemic with 3,309 lives lost, and on Monday, the US passed the grim milestone of 300,000 deaths.
What to know about coronavirus:
Here are more of today's headlines:
Behind the scenes at Northwell Health's massive storage, distribution center
Northwell Health, New York's largest healthcare provider, gave Eyewitness News a behind-the-scenes look at how they're preparing for the massive task of vaccinating New York City, Long Island and Westchester County for COVID-19.
It's a complicated chain, with many supplies and workers leading to the end product of a patient receiving a shot. At the complex in Bethpage, you can feel the hustle and bustle, kind of like Santa's Workshop for PPE.
NYE to go on in Times Square without revelers
Like the Thanksgiving parade and other iconic events in 2020, New Year's Eve in Times Square is happening this year without the crowd, the Times Square Alliance announced Tuesday.
The program will take place but without the million people that ordinarily cram into the "Crossroads of the World" to watch the iconic ball drop.
NYC Health & Hospital testing sites to have limited hours due to impending storm
New York City Test and Trace testing sites will have limited hours Wednesday and Thursday due to the approaching winter storm. On Wednesday, all sites will close at 2 p.m., and Thursday all sites will resume testing at 12 p.m.
New York, NYC headed for another shutdown, Cuomo and de Blasio warn
Mayor Bill de Blasio suggested "right after Christmas" would be the best time to shut down non essential business in New York City, which appears all but inevitable as coronavirus hospitalization rates continue to rise along with continued warnings from him and Governor Andrew Cuomo.
"I don't say it with anything but sorrow, but I do think it's needed," he said. "We are going to need to some kind of shutdown in the weeks ahead, something that resembles the pause we were in in the spring...If we implement that, my nomination would be right after Christmas. If we implement that, with some good luck and hard work and with the vaccine starting to help us, we could be out of that in a matter of weeks."
Still, the mayor said his preference would be to keep schools open.
ER nurse is recipient of NJ's 1st COVID-19 vaccine
The first COVID-19 vaccinations are being given in New Jersey Tuesday, with the first recipient a nurse who got the shot at University Hospital in Newark. Maritza Beniquez has had a front-row seat to the devastation the coronavirus pandemic has wrought on communities of color in New Jersey, so the 56-year-old ER nurse jumped at the chance to take the vaccine that is being hailed as a potential turning point in a long and grueling battle against the deadly virus.
"I'm happy that in another month and a half, I won't have to be afraid to go into a room anymore," she said. "I won't have to be afraid to perform chest compressions or be present when they're intubating a patient. I don't want to be afraid anymore, and I don't want to have that risk of taking it home to my own family and my own friends."
Governor Phil Murphy and other officials were on hand to witness the event, billed by the governor as a "momentous day."
Stimulus update: Talks escalate on new COVID-19 relief
Talks on a long-delayed COVID-19 aid package intensified Tuesday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi summoned other top congressional leaders for a potentially critical meeting. Pelosi, D-Calif., spoke with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for more than an hour, her office tweeted, and Mnuchin will join the make-or-break meeting of Capitol Hill's "big four" leaders by phone. The uptick in activity could be a sign that an agreement is near, though COVID-19 relief talks have been notoriously difficult. Pelosi hasn't met with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in months. The Kentucky Republican is playing a strong hand in the lame-duck session and is pressuring Democrats to drop a much-sought $160 billion aid package for states and local governments struggling to balance their budgets because of the pandemic.
Over-the-counter home COVID-19 test kit gets FDA authorization
The first home test for COVID-19 that doesn't require a prescription will soon be on U.S. store shelves. U.S. officials Tuesday authorized the rapid coronavirus test which can be done entirely at home. The announcement by the Food and Drug Administration represents another important - though incremental - step in U.S. efforts to expand testing options. The agency's action allows the test to be sold in places like drugstores "where a patient can buy it, swab their nose, run the test and find out their results in as little as 20 minutes," said FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, in a statement. Regulators granted emergency use for a similar test last month, but that one requires a doctor's prescription.
FDA releases positive review of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine
Hundreds more U.S. hospitals geared up to vaccinate their workers Tuesday as federal regulators issued a positive review of a second COVID-19 vaccine needed to boost the nation's largest vaccination campaign. The Food and Drug Administration said its preliminary analysis confirmed the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine developed by Moderna and the National Institutes of Health, bringing it to the cusp of U.S. authorization. A panel of outside experts will offer their recommendation Thursday, with a final FDA decision expected soon thereafter.
NYC to halt outdoor dining during winter storm Wednesday
Restaurants in New York City that just lost indoor dining are facing a double whammy after the Department of Sanitation issued a Snow Alert saying outdoor dining must cease on Wednesday at 2 p.m. They're asking that restaurants also remove any tables, chairs, or heaters in the roadway.
You can find your COVID zone at NYC.gov/covidzone.
Submit a News Tip