Credit score…Oliver Contreras for The New York Instances

A global effort to hurry up the manufacture and distribution of coronavirus vaccines across the globe acquired a lift Thursday on two fronts: White Home officers stated the Biden administration would make good on a U.S. promise to donate $4 billion to the marketing campaign over the subsequent two years and the pharmaceutical firm Novavax pledged to finally donate 1.1 billion doses of its vaccine.

Mr. Biden will make his announcement on Friday throughout a digital assembly with different leaders from the Group of seven, the place he’s additionally anticipated to name on different nations to step up their contributions. The $4 billion was accepted final 12 months by a Republican led-Senate when President Donald J. Trump was nonetheless in workplace.

Public well being consultants usually say that until everyone seems to be vaccinated, it’s as if nobody is vaccinated. One of many officers, who spoke anonymously to preview the president’s announcement, famous that the transfer was additionally within the curiosity of worldwide safety for the USA to assist with efforts overseas to decrease the affect of the pandemic.

International locations like India and China are already utilizing the coronavirus vaccine as a diplomatic device; each are gifting away doses to different nations in an effort to develop their world affect. The US has but to do the identical, though the officers stated that if it reached a degree the place it had surplus doses of vaccine — which appears probably by the autumn — the Biden administration intends to donate them to nations in want.

However, an official stated, the USA will be unable to share vaccines now, whereas the American vaccination marketing campaign remains to be persevering with to develop.

The worldwide vaccine effort, often called Covax, has been led by the public-private well being partnership often called Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, in addition to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Improvements and the World Well being Group. It goals to distribute vaccines which were deemed secure and efficient by the W.H.O., with a particular emphasis on to low- and middle-income nations.

The White Home officers stated the cash can be delivered in a number of tranches: an preliminary donation of $500 million the close to future adopted by one other $1.5 billion to be delivered within the close to time period. The remaining $2 billion will delivered by the tip of 2022.

The president’s engagement within the world combat in opposition to the pandemic stands in stark distinction to the strategy of Mr. Trump, who withdrew from the World Well being Group and disdained international help, pursuing a international coverage he appreciated to name “America First.” Mr. Biden rejoined the World Well being Group instantly after taking workplace in January.

One of many officers stated Mr. Biden would name on different nations to make important pledges to Covax.

Thus far, the USA has pledged greater than every other nation; the official stated the objective was to translate the second tranche of $2 billion into as a lot as $15 billion — the quantity the administration believes is important to spice up the provision of vaccine all over the world and to distribute it.

The Novavax announcement was greeted with enthusiasm by these main the Covax effort. Dr. Seth Berkley, the chief govt of Gavi, stated in an announcement that the donation would assist the marketing campaign “shut in on our objective of delivering two billion doses in 2021.” He stated it will additionally develop the vary of vaccines it could possibly depend on to “construct a portfolio appropriate for all settings and contexts.”


United States › United StatesOn Feb. 17 14-day change
New instances 70,176 –43%
New deaths 2,471 –34%

World › WorldOn Feb. 17 14-day change
New cases 430,138 –28%
New deaths 13,299 –20%

U.S. vaccinations ›

Where states are reporting vaccines given

Video

transcript

transcript

Women Leaving Work Force Is a ‘National Emergency,’ Harris Says

In a meeting with women leaders, Vice President Kamala Harris said high numbers of women being pushed from the work force by the pandemic can be largely addressed by the Biden administration’s coronavirus relief plan.

“Our economy cannot fully recover unless women can participate fully. So I believe, I think we all believe, this is a national emergency — women leaving the workforce in these numbers, it’s a national emergency, and it demands a national solution. We do believe that the American Rescue Plan is a very big part of the solution to this issue. And in many ways; one, it will get immediate relief to women workers, including $1,400 checks to those who need it. And at least $3,000 in tax credits to parents for each of their children. And the beauty of the significance of this is by doing that, we will lift up nearly half of the children who are living in poverty in our country. The American Rescue Plan will also provide funding to help schools safely reopen, and make a big investment in child care to help providers keep their doors open. And it will get America vaccinated. So simply put, the American Rescue Plan will help get women back to work.” “Women are not opting out of the workforce. They are being pushed by inadequate policies. So we have an opportunity not just to throw money at a problem, but to build that architecture for the future. Use this as a moment to address the serious inequities that have been further exposed by the coronavirus pandemic.” “Do not underestimate the impacts from enhanced unemployment benefits, pandemic unemployment assistance and economic payments that have come directly into our families. They are a lifeline and we have to continue this.”

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In a meeting with women leaders, Vice President Kamala Harris said high numbers of women being pushed from the work force by the pandemic can be largely addressed by the Biden administration’s coronavirus relief plan.CreditCredit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Vice President Kamala Harris said on Thursday that the 2.5 million women who have left the work force since the beginning of the pandemic constituted a “national emergency,” one that she said could be addressed by the Biden administration’s coronavirus relief plan.

That number, according to Labor Department data, compares with 1.8 million men who have left the work force. For many women, the demands of child care, coupled with layoffs and furloughs in an economy hit hard by the pandemic, have forced them out of the labor market.

The vice president painted a dire picture of the reality that millions of American women are facing during the pandemic. “Our economy cannot fully recover unless women can participate fully,” Ms. Harris said on a video call held with several women’s advocacy groups and lawmakers.

As part of its $1.9 trillion relief plan, the Biden administration has outlined several elements that officials say will ease the burden on unemployed and working women, including $3,000 in tax credits issued to families for each child, a $40 billion investment in child care assistance and an extension of unemployment benefits. Ms. Harris said that the package would “lift up nearly half of the children that are living in poverty” in the United States, a claim backed by a Columbia University analysis of the plan.

A recent Quinnipiac poll showed broad support for the Biden administration’s proposal. It has no Republican support in Congress, but Democrats aim to pass the plan using a fast track budgetary process, known as reconciliation, which would allow them to push it through the Senate with a simple majority.

Female employment began plummeting almost immediately once the virus took hold last spring, according to a report published last year by researchers at the University of Arkansas and the Center for Economic and Social Research at the University of Southern California.

Non-college educated women and women of color have been disproportionately affected. Another report, published last fall by the Brookings Institution, showed that nearly half of all working women have low-paying jobs, which are more likely to be held by Black or Latina women and in sectors, including dining and travel, that are among the least likely to return soon to a degree of normalcy.

People arrive to get vaccinated at the Maccabi Health vaccination centre in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv-Jaffa.
Credit…Jack Guez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Israel has raced ahead with the fastest Covid-19 vaccination campaign in the world, inoculating nearly half its population with at least one dose. Now its success is making it a case study in setting rules for a partially vaccinated society — raising thorny questions about rights, obligations and the greater good.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet voted this week to open shopping malls and museums to the public, subject to social distancing rules and mandatory masking. For the first time in many months, gyms, cultural and sports events, hotels and swimming pools will also reopen, but only for some.

Under a new “Green Badge” system that functions as both a carrot and a stick, the government is making leisure activities accessible only to people who are fully vaccinated or recovered starting from Sunday. Two weeks later, restaurants, event halls and conferences will be allowed to operate under those rules. Customers and attendees will have to carry a certificate of vaccination with a QR code.

Israel is one of the first countries grappling in real time with a host of legal, moral and ethical questions as it tries to balance the steps toward resuming public life with sensitive issues such as public safety, discrimination, free choice and privacy.

“Getting vaccinated is a moral duty. It is part of our mutual responsibility,” said the health minister, Yuli Edelstein. He also has a new mantra: “Whoever does not get vaccinated will be left behind.”

Four million Israelis — nearly half the population of nine million — have received at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and more than 2.6 million have gotten a second dose. But about two million eligible citizens aged 16 or over have not sought vaccines. The average number of new daily infections is hovering around 4,000.

Israel’s central government — eager to bring the country out of its third national lockdown without setting off a new wave of infections — was spurred into action by local initiatives. Chafing under the country’s lockdown regulations, an indoor shopping mall in the working-class Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam threw its doors open last week for customers who could prove that they had been vaccinated or had recovered from Covid-19.

In Karmiel, the mayor made a similar decision to open his city in the northern Galilee region for business. Other mayors want to bar unvaccinated teachers from classrooms while some hoteliers threatened unvaccinated employees with dismissal.

Mr. Edelstein, the health minister, said on Thursday that vaccination would not be compulsory in Israel. But his ministry is now proposing legislation that would oblige unvaccinated employees whose work involves contact with the public to be tested for the virus every two days. And he is promoting a bill that would allow the ministry to identify unvaccinated people to the local authorities.

A line for coronavirus tests in Los Angeles. The life expectancy gap between Black and white Americans grew during the pandemic to six years, the largest figure since 1998.
Credit…Philip Cheung for The New York Times

Life expectancy in the United States fell by a full year in the first six months of 2020, the federal government reported on Thursday, the largest drop since World War II and a grim measure of the deadly consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

Life expectancy — the average number of years that a newborn is expected to live — is the most basic measure of the health of a population, and the stark decline over such a short period is highly unusual and a signal of deep distress. The drop comes after a series of troubling smaller declines driven largely by a surge in drug overdose deaths. A fragile recovery over the past two years has now been wiped out.

Thursday’s figures give the first full picture of the pandemic’s effect on American expected life spans, which dropped to 77.8 years from 78.8 years in 2019. It also showed a deepening of racial and ethnic disparities: Life expectancy of the Black population declined by 2.7 years in the first half of 2020, after 20 years of gains. The gap between Black and white Americans, which had been narrowing, is now at six years, the widest since 1998.

“I knew it was going to be large, but when I saw those numbers, I was like, ‘Oh my God,’” Elizabeth Arias, the federal researcher who produced the report, said of the racial disparity. Of the drop for the full population, she said, “We haven’t seen a decline of that magnitude in decades.”

Still, unlike the drop caused by the extended, complex problem of drug overdoses, this one, driven largely by Covid-19, is not likely to last as long because virus deaths are easing and people are being vaccinated. In 1918, when hundreds of thousands of Americans died in the flu pandemic, life expectancy declined 11.8 years from the previous year, Dr. Arias said, down to 39. Numbers fully rebounded the following year.

Even if such a rebound occurs this time, the social and economic effects of Covid-19 will linger, researchers noted, as will disproportionate effects on people of color. Some researchers said that drug deaths, which began surging again in 2019 and 2020, may continue to lower life expectancy.

Dr. Mary T. Bassett, a former New York City health commissioner who is now a professor of health and human rights at Harvard, said that unless the country better addressed inequality, “We may see U.S. life expectancy stagnate or decline for some time to come.”

She noted that life expectancy here began to lag behind other developed countries in the 1980s. One theory is that growing economic disparities affected health. Life conditions that have exacerbated Covid-19 rates, like overcrowded housing and inadequate protections for low-wage workers, will only add to that trend, she said.

In Thursday’s figures, Black and Hispanic Americans were hit harder and the fatalities in these groups skewed younger. Over all, the death rate for Black Americans with Covid-19 was almost twice that for white Americans as of late January, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the death rate for Hispanics was 2.3 times higher than for white non-Hispanic Americans.

The 2.7-year drop in life expectancy for African-Americans from January through June of last year was the largest decline, followed by a 1.9-year drop for Hispanic Americans and a 0.8-year drop for white Americans.

Dr. Bassett said she expected life expectancy for Hispanic people to decline further over the second half of 2020, when Covid-19 death rates for that demographic continued to rise even as they dropped for white and Black Americans.

A woman waits for her vaccination in Bates Memorial Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., on Friday, the first day that Norton Healthcare offered shots in predominantly Black areas of the city.
Credit…Jon Cherry/Getty Images

Rates of vaccination in Black and Latino communities in New York are lower than rates in largely white communities, new data shows, the latest evidence that suggests they aren’t getting equal access to vaccines, even though they have been disproportionately been affected by the coronavirus.

The picture is hazy because accurate national data on race and ethnicity is lagging. But experts and leaders in these communities say the data shows that Black and Latino Americans are being vaccinated at lower rates because they face obstacles like language and technology barriers, disparities in access to medical facilities and getting to a site.

Some Black and Latino Americans face other problems, too, including social media misinformation and hesitancy to get the vaccine because of mistrust in government officials and doctors.

Data released on Tuesday on the 1.3 million vaccines administered in New York City showed lower rates of vaccination in predominantly Black areas. New York State also reports Latino and Black residents to be behind in vaccination totals.

President Biden has repeatedly said that racial equity is at the center of his response to the coronavirus pandemic and he appointed an adviser, Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, to tackle that. The Biden administration announced a program last week that began to ship vaccines to federally funded clinics in underserved communities.

The federal government also sent one million doses to about 6,500 retail pharmacies beginning last week. But researchers who did a county-level analysis, which included community pharmacies, federally qualified health centers, hospital outpatient departments and rural health clinics, found that more than one-third of U.S. counties have two or fewer of those facilities.

This makes access to vaccines more difficult, according to the study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy and West Health Policy Center.

While vaccine hesitancy may play a role in Black and Latino communities, Sean Dickson, the director of health policy at the West Health Policy Center, said that the study shows evidence of effects from systemic health infrastructure issues.

“It’s important that we don’t rest on vaccine hesitancy as a crutch,” Mr. Dickson said, adding that it could sometimes be used to blame Black and Latino communities. “If we don’t do anything to better affirmatively distribute the vaccines in these communities, then it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

In the Brownsville area of Brooklyn, Renee Muir, the director of development and community relations at the BMS Family Health Center, said she is developing a survey to gather evidence of the challenges affecting the community. Many residents have been deeply affected by the virus because of adverse health conditions and unemployment.

“Now you’re talking about people making decisions to spend $6 round trip, or eating, or paying a phone bill,” Ms. Muir said about residents traveling to get a vaccine.

On messaging platforms like WhatsApp and on social media, Latinos have been exposed to vaccine misinformation, said Dr. Valeria Daniela Lucio Cantos, an infectious disease specialist at Emory University. She has been working to help Latinos understand the vaccine and make appointments.

“There’s this emphasis on the risk and not enough on the benefits of the vaccines,” she said.

But while many older Americans struggle with the online system to register for a vaccine, sites only available in English presented an additional barrier, Dr. Cantos said.

“It feels like the system built for vaccine distribution did not have the Latinx community in mind,” she said, using the gender-neutral term for Latinos. She added that vaccine sites asking for Social Security numbers or insurance numbers made it difficult for undocumented immigrants to feel safe.

As vaccine supplies ramp up, Dr. Paulina Rebolledo, an assistant professor at Emory, hopes that officials begin to rethink their approach by mobilizing with organizations within Black and Latino communities that are trusted by residents and speak various languages.

“We, on the provider side or the health care side, can try to do more to reach patients and have them hear our voices,” she said. “It’s their overall health we’re trying to work on, and this is just an integral part of the movement.”

Traveling nurses working at a field hospital in Cranston, R.I. Baccalaureate nursing program enrollment rose by 6 percent last year.
Credit…David Goldman/Associated Press

As the pandemic was starting to overwhelm hospitals last year, some nursing school officials feared that the crisis would deter prospective applicants from pursuing nursing careers. But preliminary enrollment data from 2020 shows the opposite to be true: Baccalaureate nursing program enrollment rose by 6 percent last year, according to a survey of 900 schools by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Deb Trautman, president of the organization, attributes the increased interest to the visibility of medical workers over the last year, as television and social media tributes have highlighted their roles on the front line.

“There was an opportunity for the public to see the contributions nurses are making,” Ms. Trautman said. “They’re participating in vaccinations, in care, in helping patients and families communicate and stay connected.”

The interest wasn’t limited to nursing: Medical school applications rose 18 percent for the class entering in fall 2021, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

People who lost jobs during the pandemic may also be enrolling in nursing programs as they look for new career paths, according to Donna Meyer, chief executive of the Organization for Associate Degree Nursing. She said nursing work had proved potentially more lucrative than before the pandemic, especially given the increased need for traveling nurses. While hospital nurses typically make about $80,000 a year, traveling nurses have made as much as $10,000 a week during pandemic.

The survey was reported on in Kaiser Health News on Thursday.

Historically, nursing programs have been limited in the number of students they can admit each year, because of constraints on the clinical training opportunities they can offer. In 2019, bachelor’s and graduate degree programs rejected over 80,000 qualified applicants. But this year, many nursing programs made the transition to training students virtually and were able to increase capacity, according to Dr. Beverly Malone, president of the National League for Nursing.

“It was like a war call,” Dr. Malone said, referring to the pandemic. “You see what’s going on and you say, ‘I’m going to help.’”

Lorraine Wilner, a 78-year-old retiree with metastatic breast cancer, at her home in Lancaster, S.C. Instead of making longer drives into North Carolina as frequently, she can now have her blood drawn at a lab near her home and review the results with researchers over a video call.
Credit…Travis Dove for The New York Times

When the pandemic hit last year, clinical trials took a hit. Universities closed, and hospitals turned their attention to battling the new disease. Many studies that required repeated, in-person visits with volunteers were delayed or scrapped.

But some scientists found creative ways to continue their research even when face-to-face interaction was inherently risky. They mailed medications, performed exams over video chat and asked patients to monitor their own vitals at home.

Many scientists say this shift toward virtual studies is long overdue. If these practices persist, they could make clinical trials cheaper, more efficient and more equitable — offering state-of-the-art research opportunities to people who otherwise wouldn’t have the time or resources to take advantage of them.

“We’ve discovered that we can do things differently, and I don’t think we’ll go back to life as we used to know it,” said Dr. Mustafa Khasraw, a medical oncologist and clinical trial specialist at Duke University.

According to one analysis, nearly 6,000 trials registered on ClinicalTrials.gov were stopped between Jan. 1 and May 31, roughly twice as many compared with non-pandemic times.

Remote trials are likely to persist in a post-pandemic era, researchers say. Cutting back on in-person visits could make recruiting patients easier and reduce dropout rates, leading to quicker, cheaper clinical trials, said Dr. Ray Dorsey, a neurologist at the University of Rochester who conducted remote research for years.

The shift to virtual trials could also help diversify clinical research, encouraging more low-income and rural patients to enroll, said Dr. Hala Borno, an oncologist at the University of California, San Francisco. The pandemic, she said, “does really allow us to step back and reflect on the burdens that we’ve been placing on patients for a really long time.”

But virtual trials are not a panacea. Researchers will have to ensure that they can thoroughly monitor volunteers’ health without in-person visits, and be mindful of the fact that not all patients have access to, or are comfortable with, technology.

And in some cases, scientists still need to demonstrate that remote testing is reliable; homes are uncontrolled environments. “Maybe there’s a cat crawling on them or grandchildren in the next room,” he said.

A rare winter storm that dumped a foot of snow on Seattle couldn’t keep Fran Goldman from her first appointment for the coronavirus vaccine on Sunday.
Credit…Ruth Goldman/Ruth Goldman, via Associated Press

To get her coronavirus vaccination last weekend, Frances H. Goldman, 90, went to an extraordinary length: six miles. On foot.

It was too snowy to drive at 8 a.m. on Sunday when Ms. Goldman took out her hiking poles, dusted off her snow boots and started out from her home in the Seattle neighborhood of View Ridge. She made her way to the Burke-Gilman Trail on the edge of the city, where she then wended her way alongside a set of old railroad tracks, heading south. Then she traversed the residential streets of Laurelhurst to reach the Seattle Children’s Hospital.

It was a quiet walk, Ms. Goldman said. People were scarce. She caught glimpses of Lake Washington through falling snow. It would have been more difficult, she said, had she not gotten a bad hip replaced last year.

At the hospital, about three miles and an hour from home, she got the jab. Then she bundled up again and walked back the way she had come.

It was an extraordinary effort — but that was not the extent of it. Ms. Goldman, who became eligible for a vaccine last month, had already tried everything she could think of to secure an appointment. She had made repeated phone calls and fruitless visits to the websites of local pharmacies, hospitals and government health departments. She enlisted a daughter in New York and a friend in Arizona to help her find an appointment.

Finally, on Friday, a visit to the Seattle Children’s Hospital website yielded results.

“Lo and behold, a whole list of times popped up,” she said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “I couldn’t believe my eyes. I went and got my glasses to make sure I was seeing it right.”

Then came the snow, which would ultimately drop more than 10 inches, in one of Seattle’s snowiest weekends on record. Wary of driving on hilly, unplowed roads, Ms. Goldman decided to go to the hospital on foot. She took a test walk part of the way on Saturday to get a sense of how long the trip might take.

And on Sunday, she trekked all the way to the hospital to get her vaccine.

“I hope that it will inspire people to get their shots,” she said. “I think it’s important for the whole country.”

The rollout in Washington State, like many around the country, has been complicated by failures of technology, shortfalls in equity and a persistent imbalance of supply and demand. State officials have struggled to set up the infrastructure necessary to schedule and vaccinate the millions of people who are already eligible.

Ms. Goldman is scheduled to receive her second dose of the vaccine next month. She plans to drive.

Lawmakers in California on Thursday proposed a $12.6 billion package to fast-track teacher vaccines and provide incentives to public schools to reopen classrooms by April 15.

The legislation, which is virtually assured of passage early next week, would restore about 10 weeks of in-person class for the regular school year, and then only for elementary and special needs students. In most districts, California’s school year ends in late June.

But it would also include money for summer school. More important, the plan would establish California’s clearest road map yet for restoring in-person instruction. Most of the state’s large school districts, including the Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco districts, have been operating remotely for the vast majority of students for nearly a year.

Mr. Newsom had called for schools to reopen this month under a similar incentive structure, citing federal guidelines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued new guidelines saying that teacher vaccination need not be a prerequisite to reopening schools, as long as other health measures were enforced.

However, teachers unions have demanded greater workplace safety, including vaccinations, surveillance testing and extensive improvements to ventilation systems. The 300,000-member California Teachers Association, a powerful player in the state’s Democratic-dominated Capitol, aired statewide television ads this week calling for “safety first” in classrooms and warning that the pandemic is “still a threat.”

Under the legislative plan, $8 billion in state and federal money would be distributed to districts willing to provide in-person teaching by April 15 for students in kindergarten through sixth grade and for high-needs students through 12th grade.

Those districts — and their local health authorities — would be required to offer vaccines to teachers and staff before they returned to classrooms. Schools would also have to comply with strict distancing, masking and other safety requirements. Families would be given the option of remaining in distance learning.

The state would also make available $4.6 billion to underwrite summer school, tutoring, extended school days and other remedial efforts to make up for the academic toll of the pandemic.

Districts that failed to reopen by April 15 would be required to return the funds.

“These clear guidelines from the state will help reopen schools in the safest way possible,” the superintendent of the Los Angeles school district, Austin Beutner, said in a statement.

Mr. Newsom, who is facing a Republican-led recall movement fueled, in part, by the pandemic-related school closures, had no immediate comment about the legislation, but has said repeatedly that he wants to reopen schools.

A subway station platform in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn earlier this month.
Credit…Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

After warning that draconian cuts to public transit could be on the way, including a 40 percent decrease in subway service, New York transit officials on Thursday announced that they had avoided major reductions for the next two years after a new infusion of federal aid and better than expected tax revenues helped steady the system’s finances.

The improved financial outlook is a major dose of good news for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the subway, buses and two commuter lines and has seen fare revenues plunge after the pandemic emptied public transit of riders.

The agency had been warning of drastic reductions, not just to the subway but also to buses, in part to pressure Congress into providing more help. The $1.9 trillion stimulus package President Biden is pushing Congress to approve includes as much as $30 billion for public transit.

Of that, the M.T.A. can expect to receive at least $6 billion, according to Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, who is now the Democratic majority leader and who played a critical role in securing financing for transit agencies during stimulus negotiations last year.

While the agency said it would avoid major cuts in 2021 and 2022, it still faces an $8 billion deficit over the next four years and the possibility of cuts in the near future without additional federal aid.

“In the short and midterm there is significant relief, but we still have a long-term structural, fiscal problem that we have not dealt with,” said Andrew Rein, the president of the Citizens Budget Commission, a financial watchdog. “The bottom line is we are not out of the woods, but we can see the light through the trees.”

The latest round of federal aid, which directed around $4 billion to the M.T.A., provided more money for day-to-day operations and freed the agency to commit more toward its capital plan for major upgrades. The agency also received around $4 billion from the first federal emergency relief package last year.

Still hanging in the balance is the agency’s sweeping $54 billion plan to modernize the system, including replacing an antiquated signal system that is a major cause of delays and disruptions. That plan was suspended after the pandemic hit but parts of it will be revived this year, according to transit officials.

Making the system more reliable is a crucial step to luring back riders as New York struggles to recover from the financial crisis set off by the outbreak.

Empty syringes wait to be filled with the coronavirus vaccine. Apple is removing the drops of blood at the end of its syringe emoji.
Credit…Jon Nazca/Reuters

As millions get vaccinated, Apple is making a design change to its syringe emoji, swapping an image with drops of blood at the end of the emoji’s needle for one that looks more like a vaccine.

The redesigned emoji is available only to members of the company’s beta program but will be publicly available with iOS 14.5. While new emojis are more difficult to approve, changing an emoji’s design can enact a similar result on a faster timeline, according to Keith Broni, the deputy emoji officer at Emojipedia, a service that archives the design and usage trends of emojis.

The syringe emoji dates to 1999 and had been used mainly to illustrate blood donations in Japan. The emoji was often used in discussions around blood donations and even tattooing, Mr. Broni said.

“When you provide someone with a communication tool, they will use it as they see fit,” Mr. Broni said. “We’ve seen many different emojis take on many different connotations.”

Mr. Broni said he had started to notice a spike in the usage of the emoji late last year, and saw that the conversations people were having on Twitter while using it had pivoted to talk about coronavirus vaccines.

Mr. Broni said he expected the change from Apple to be a permanent one, and that other technology companies would be likely to follow suit. He said the emoji that resembles a vaccine injection could be used more readily and that removing the blood would make the emoji more flexible and less intimidating.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic has created a rift with state lawmakers, including some fellow Democrats.
Credit…Pool photo by Mary Altaffer

The Democratic leaders of the New York State Senate are moving to strip Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of unilateral emergency powers granted during the pandemic, setting up an unusual rebuke by members of his own party.

The measures, which could come to a vote next week, underscore the deepening division between Mr. Cuomo and state lawmakers since he acknowledged having intentionally withheld critical data on virus-related deaths from them.

The F.B.I. and the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York have opened an inquiry into the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic. The inquiry, which was confirmed by three people familiar with the matter, is in its earliest stages, and it is not clear whether it is focused on any individual.

The inquiry, first reported in The Times Union of Albany, was another indication of the shift in Mr. Cuomo’s position since March, when he emerged as a prominent national voice in a crisis through his daily briefings. Now, much of that good will has evaporated.

The Senate’s action also illustrates fatigue in the Democratic-controlled State Legislature over his use of powers that gave him broad control over the state’s response to the virus, from ordering shutdowns to managing vaccine distribution.

Lawmakers discussed limiting his powers earlier this year but did not take any steps. On Wednesday, State Senator Gustavo Rivera, a Democrat and chairman of the health committee, said it was now time for action. “We need to remind them that state government is not one big branch: There’s three of them,” he said.

The tension was out in the open on Wednesday, with Mr. Cuomo attacking critics, singling out Assemblyman Ron Kim, a Queens Democrat, who said the governor had threatened him last week — an accusation the governor’s staff called a lie.

Earlier this week, a group of State Assembly Democrats circulated a letter seeking support for revoking Mr. Cuomo’s powers and suggesting the administration had broken federal law — an accusation the governor denied on Wednesday. That came less than a week after 14 Senate Democrats signed a statement saying that “it’s clear that the expanded emergency powers granted to the governor are not applicable.”

Senate leaders now intend to cross a invoice that will restrict the governor’s means to supersede state legal guidelines and would set up a fee of state lawmakers to guage future pandemic-related directives and suspensions of legal guidelines.

The final month has been certainly one of turmoil for Mr. Cuomo, who is thought for his combative politics. After a scathing report from Letitia James, the state legal professional common, that steered the dying toll at nursing houses had been undercounted, the official variety of residents of nursing houses and comparable establishments was elevated from about 8,500 to greater than 15,000.

Because the virus claimed the lives of 1000’s of nursing residence residents, the state rely had disregarded those that had died in hospitals relatively than on the houses.

The governor acknowledged on Monday that there had been “a delay” in releasing the complete story.

Nicole Hong and William Ok. Rashbaum contributed reporting.

Among the people who will be able to sign up for a vaccine on Thursday are grocery store and manufacturing workers. As many as 160,000 people with certain medical conditions could be newly eligible next month.
Credit score…Alex Edelman/Agence France-Presse — Getty Pictures

Washington, D.C., residents employed in grocery shops or manufacturing had been added Thursday night to the roster of employees who can join a Covid-19 vaccine, and metropolis officers stated inoculations will quickly widen additional to cowl individuals with a variety of medical circumstances.

The subsequent growth, on March 1, is for individuals of any age with a coated medical situation,  together with bronchial asthma, sickle cell illness, most cancers, developmental disabilities, some coronary heart circumstances and extra. It may make as many as 160,000 extra individuals eligible for the vaccine, Dr. LaQuandra S. Nesbitt, the director of town’s well being division, stated at a news conference.

Dr. Nesbitt stated officers had been optimistic that they might be capable to deal with the inflow of eligible residents. Earlier this week, New York State expanded its standards to cowl individuals with power well being circumstances, resulting in a flood of calls from New Yorkers looking for appointments, a few of whom had bother getting one.

Washington’s newly introduced guidelines additionally cowl pregnant and overweight individuals, however they don’t embrace people who smoke or people who find themselves chubby, two teams that had beforehand been thought of for this part of vaccinations, The Washington Publish reported.

Dr. Nesbitt indicated that well being officers had been making an attempt to steadiness the necessity for vaccinating at-risk populations with the truth that vaccine doses are restricted.

About 23 p.c of metropolis residents could have medical circumstances that can make them eligible, although Dr. Nesbitt famous that some could have already been in a position to get a vaccine below the standards of earlier phases, resembling if they’re older than 64 or an important employee. Folks will “self-attest” to their medical circumstances after they register or whereas on the vaccination website, Dr. Nesbitt stated.

Along with grocery retailer staff, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser stated, Thursday’s growth may even cowl outreach employees within the in well being and human companies or social companies fields and individuals who work in meals packaging.

A man gets the coronavirus vaccine at an outdoor vaccination site on Wednesday in Bradenton, Fla.
Credit score…Chris O’Meara/Related Press

It was meant to be a feel-good occasion, like the 2 or three that Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida holds across the state every week: a pop-up coronavirus vaccination website the place the governor may present how his administration was getting the photographs to individuals 65 and older.

However when Mr. DeSantis arrived on Wednesday on the website in Manatee County, he confronted sharp questions from native reporters about why his workers had chosen to do it in Lakewood Ranch, an prosperous and largely white group developed by a Republican political donor.

The Bradenton Herald reported that the vaccinations in Lakewood Ranch can be restricted to residents of two ZIP codes — the 2 wealthiest within the county — at a time when vaccination charges in much less prosperous Black communities within the state had been lagging far behind.

Florida’s inhabitants is sort of 17 p.c Black, however solely about 5.4 p.c of the greater than 2.4 million Floridians who’ve gotten at the least one of many two required vaccine doses up to now have been Black, in response to information from the Florida Division of Well being.

Mr. DeSantis, a Republican, defended the location’s location. He stated the state wished to focus on communities with many retirees, particularly in counties the place the share of older individuals who have already been vaccinated is lower than 42 p.c, the statewide common.

“If Manatee County doesn’t like us doing this, we’re completely effective with placing this in counties that need it,” he stated, citing a number of close by counties in southern Florida: “If you would like us to ship to Sarasota subsequent time, or Charlotte, or Pasco, tell us. We’re pleased to do it.”

Late on Wednesday, extra reporting by The Herald revealed that Vanessa Baugh, the county commissioner who had helped set up the vaccination website, had created a V.I.P. record of vaccine recipients that included herself and the developer of Lakewood Ranch, Rex Jensen. Mr. Jensen additionally helped set up the vaccination website, together with Patrick Ok. Neal, an area residence builder who has donated $125,000 to Mr. DeSantis’s political committee since 2018. Final week, Mr. DeSantis visited a pop-up vaccination website at Kings Gate, a group in Charlotte County developed by Mr. Neal.

Ms. Baugh informed The Herald that she didn’t get vaccinated or obtain an appointment. Ms. Baugh and Mr. Jensen didn’t instantly reply to interview requests from The New York Instances on Thursday. A spokeswoman for Mr. Neal declined to remark and directed inquiries to the governor’s workplace.

Florida was one of many first states to open up eligibility to everybody 65 and older. It has additionally provided vaccination to some individuals with underlying well being circumstances, and to frontline well being care employees. However in contrast to most different states, it has not but begun vaccinating different classes of important employees like academics or grocery employees, a coverage that has drawn some criticism.

Mr. DeSantis opened one other pop-up website on Thursday, this time in Pinellas Park, a largely white middle-income group close to St. Petersburg. Earlier than he spoke to reporters there, a person yelled, “Disgrace on you, Governor!”

Mr. DeSantis stated questions on any preferential remedy in Lakewood Ranch ought to be directed to officers there, saying that the state merely identifies the pop-up websites, leaving particulars about who might be vaccinated to native leaders.

“We belief them to have the ability to signal individuals up,” he stated.

Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts toured a sports arena in Worcester in December as it was being readied for use as a field hospital during a  peak period of the pandemic.
Credit score…Pool photograph by Nancy Lane

Thursday was presupposed to be an ideal day for Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, whose vaccination effort was starting to hit a stride after stumbling badly in January.

At 8 a.m., virtually one million extra residents of the state — these between 65 and 75, and people with two or extra medical circumstances — had been to turn out to be eligible to e book vaccinations on-line.

Besides — not.

When the large second got here, as an alternative of getting appointments, many 1000’s of customers acquired a message that the state’s new net software, vaxfinder.mass.gov, had crashed.

Overwhelmed by quantity, the location intermittently returned to life over the subsequent three hours —  but it surely turned out that, due to the web site issues, the state had not been in a position to put up 50,000 of the 77,000 newly obtainable appointments.

Not for the primary time, Twitter grew to become a clearinghouse for widespread frustration.

Governor Baker stated on Thursday that web site technicians “did a variety of state of affairs work” upfront, however “clearly it didn’t put together the location.”

“My hair is on hearth about the entire thing,” he informed WGBH, a Boston public radio station. “Individuals are working actually laborious to get it fastened.”

He added, “Folks did a variety of work making ready for this, however clearly they didn’t do sufficient.”

He has stated federal vaccine provide constraints had been holding again the state’s effort, and stated on Thursday that he was contemplating sending Nationwide Guard troops to Kentucky and Tennessee to choose up shipments that could be stalled there due to unhealthy climate.

A well-liked Republican who spent a lot of his profession as a well being care govt, Governor Baker got here below intense public criticism for the gradual, patchy availability of vaccinations within the state in January.

The state gave precedence to employees in hospitals and nursing houses, however a lot of them refused the photographs, a lot of the state’s preliminary stockpile of doses sat unused in chilly storage. Six weeks into the trouble, Massachusetts trailed most of New England, and ranked beneath common nationally, within the share of its inhabitants that had been vaccinated by that point.

The state opened mass vaccination websites in February and rapidly improved its efficiency, rising to rank ninth within the nation, in response to a New York Instances database.

Increasing eligibility was an indication of that progress, since Massachusetts did so after crossing an vital threshold, with greater than half its residents over 75 having acquired at the least one of many two required vaccine doses. Final week the state additionally started a first-in-the-nation experiment, providing vaccinations to those that accompany people who find themselves 75 and older to mass vaccination websites.

Nonetheless, lawmakers criticized the trouble as inequitable, rising the benefit of rich households with working automobiles and free time to move elders to be vaccinated at distant sports activities stadiums. The Democratic-controlled legislature has scheduled oversight hearings on the vaccine program later this month.

world roundup

A line for coronavirus testing in Hong Kong on Wednesday.
Credit score…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Instances

The Hong Kong authorities stated on Thursday that it had accepted Sinovac’s coronavirus vaccine, a drug manufactured by a mainland Chinese language firm that has confronted scrutiny all over the world over delivery delays and spotty information disclosures.

Hong Kong’s well being authorities stated the primary million doses of the vaccine, known as CoronaVac, would arrive on Friday and that vaccinations would start subsequent week, beginning with important employees and folks over 60.

The announcement is notable as a result of Hong Kong is certainly one of only some governments in Asia to have accepted CoronaVac to be used. A number of different nations have stated they might solely achieve this after receiving full trial information from the producer.

Malaysia and Singapore, as an example, have each ordered doses from Sinovac. However officers in each nations have needed to reassure their residents that they might approve a vaccine provided that it had been proved secure and efficient.

In January, officers in Brazil stated that the efficacy price of CoronaVac was simply over 50 p.c, barely above the World Well being Group’s threshold for an efficient Covid-19 vaccine. The corporate stated the efficacy price was weaker than anticipated as a result of the trial had been carried out amongst well being care employees, who had a better danger of contracting Covid-19, and included individuals with “gentle signs.”

Sinovac has given government-appointed consultants in Hong Kong late-stage trial information for CoronaVac displaying a 62.3 p.c efficacy price after two photographs, Lau Chak Sing, the spokesman of a coronavirus vaccine advisory panel, informed reporters on Tuesday. The advisers reviewed the info and decided that vaccine’s advantages outweighed the dangers, he stated.

Sinovac didn’t launch the info publicly.

Pitching CoronaVac to the Hong Kong public could possibly be powerful: A latest ballot carried out by the College of Hong Kong confirmed that fewer than three in 10 residents would take it, due to worries about its weak efficacy. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had the best stage of acceptability, at 55.9 per cent.

Hong Kong’s well being authorities accepted the Pfizer vaccine in late January, and the primary doses are anticipated to reach in late February.

Beijing officers as soon as hoped that Sinovac and different Chinese language-made vaccines would burnish the nation’s world popularity. A minimum of 24 nations, most of them low and center earnings, signed offers with the Chinese language vaccine corporations as a result of they provided entry when richer nations had claimed many of the doses made by Pfizer and Moderna.

Now Beijing is on the defensive, and China’s state-run media has been waging a misinformation marketing campaign in opposition to the American vaccines, questioning their security and selling the Chinese language ones.

In different information from all over the world:

  • India would require vacationers arriving from Brazil and South Africa to endure a coronavirus check, to stop variants from spreading. The Well being Ministry stated on Thursday that India had recorded one case of the variant circulating in Brazil, 4 variant instances from South Africa and 187 from Britain. India has recorded practically 11 million instances through the pandemic. Its dying toll of 156,014 is the world’s third-highest after the USA and Brazil, in response to a New York Instances database.

  • Nepal on Thursday accepted a vaccine manufactured by Sinopharm, a state-owned vaccine maker from China. The Sinopharm vaccine is the second to be accepted for emergency use in Nepal after Covishield, the Indian-made model of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Nepal, which borders each China and India, is without doubt one of the locations the place the 2 nations are competing to distribute vaccines. Nepal accepted Sinopharm’s vaccine days after the Chinese language international minister, Wang Yi, had pledged to donate 500,000 doses. India has already despatched one million Covishield doses. As of Thursday, greater than 400,000 frontline well being employees and different important employees had been vaccinated.

  • China has begun requiring that vacationers isolate for 14 days earlier than flying in from some nations in Africa and Asia, in response to notices posted on Chinese language embassies’ web sites this week. Locations affected embrace Egypt, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. China already required anybody getting into from overseas to quarantine for a number of weeks upon arrival, as do quite a few different nations. Obligatory quarantine earlier than journey seems to be far rarer.

  • Spectators had been allowed again into the Australian Open on Thursday, hours after the state of Victoria ended a five-day lockdown it had imposed to include an outbreak in a Melbourne quarantine resort. The tennis event’s director, Craig Tiley, stated that 7,477 followers can be allowed in for every session, about half capability. Followers are required to put on masks whereas indoors or when they’re unable to socially distance.

  • Zimbabwe started its first vaccinations utilizing 200,000 Sinopharm doses donated by China. The nation’s every day new instances have slowed down after a latest wave, and the federal government relaxed some lockdown guidelines on Monday. Zimbabwe has recorded 35,423 instances and 1,418 deaths, in response to a New York Instances database.

  • Nearly a 12 months because the nation’s first confirmed case, New Zealand on Friday started its first vaccinations, which went to the well being employees who will inoculate individuals working at airports and in quarantine accommodations on Saturday. The nation final week acquired round 60,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the one one accepted by the federal government up to now.

Rita Alba, right, a registered nurse, directs Alba Carrasco to the recovery area after giving her the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine at a pop-up vaccination site at the Bronx River Addition NYCHA complex in January.
Credit score…Mary Altaffer/Related Press

Slightly-known program that enables New Yorkers to get a Covid-19 vaccination in the event that they volunteer at vaccine distribution websites has stopped accepting new candidates who shouldn’t have expertise in well being care.

Vaccine distribution started in New York State in mid-December. To fill out staffing shortages, New York Metropolis had enlisted its Medical Reserve Corps, a volunteer community that responds to public well being emergencies. With out fanfare, the company recruited volunteers — medical and nonmedical workers alike. In trade for 36 hours of service, volunteers had been eligible to obtain their first dose of the vaccine.

On Thursday, the Medical Reserve Corps informed The New York Instances in an electronic mail that it will solely settle for well being care professionals going ahead. “The NYC MRC has historically been used for medical/well being care volunteers. Because the variety of volunteers swelled — together with metropolis staff serving within the hubs — we went again to limiting MRC to recruitment of healthcare professionals,” the company stated.

Volunteering was a manner for a lot of New Yorkers who usually are not but eligible for vaccination to leap to the entrance of the road, as receiving the vaccine has proved elusive. In response to information gathered by The New York Instances, about 10 p.c of 11 million eligible New Yorkers have acquired their first dose.

The duty of vaccinating is daunting: A single vaccination website would possibly require individuals to behave as administrative staff, safety officers, medical greeters, translators, emotional help staffers, schedulers, visitors displays and, in fact, vaccinators.

Some volunteers bristled on the thought of working three 12-hour shifts with out receiving a single penny from town, even when they did obtain the vaccine in trade.

Others, although, thought they struck gold. “I believed that it was the most effective deal on the planet, the three shifts,” stated Seth Rosen, the director of improvement on the Nationwide LGBT Bar Affiliation. He volunteered within the South Bronx. “I used to be pleased to try this as a way to be vaccinated.”

However practically all volunteers complained that signing up was opaque and convoluted.

Enrollment directions on town’s web site are focused solely to licensed scientific professionals. In response, numerous unauthorized paperwork outlining the sign-up course of for common workers started popping up on the web: circulating round social media or forwarded amongst associates.

Adam, a filmmaker who didn’t need to use his final identify as a result of volunteers had been informed to not communicate to the press, registered for his volunteer service after receiving an unofficial doc. It detailed the steps required for registration over 4 separate web sites, every one requiring totally different accounts and passwords. Customers had been taught how one can create an account on town’s official web site; then how one can register on ServNY, the state’s volunteer program; then how one can register with the state’s Division of Well being Public Account Administration System; and, lastly, how one can create an account for the Public Well being Responders program.

In all, it required 32 steps.

“It was so bureaucratic — proper out of Kafka,” stated Adam.

And now it’s over.

The town Medical Reserve Corps despatched an electronic mail to volunteers on Thursday saying common staffing roles had been “at capability for the foreseeable future.”

“Management has determined that NYC workers might be filling within the gaps shifting ahead,” the e-mail stated. “Given the place we had been with staffing 4 weeks in the past, having this position completely coated is a big accomplishment — and a aid. As soon as once more, thanks.”

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