COVID-19 Reports and Vaccine Rollout: February 22–26

Christina Knight | February 22, 2021

A still from a PBS NewsHour Weekend segment on Sunday, February 21, 2021.

THIRTEEN and PBS offer regular, in-depth reporting on the coronavirus pandemic’s COVID-19 cases and the vaccine rollout and distribution, as well as repercussions on employment, social services, the economy and politics. Here is the most recent information from infectious disease doctors and medical professionals, government officials, and journalists who cover news about COVID-19 and its impacts. This page will be updated as reporting continues.

Recent COVID News and Numbers

Click for National, State, and City Hotlines and Resources

On Monday, the House of Representatives plans to schedule a vote on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sites in Brooklyn and Queens, open daily 8 a.m.–8 p.m. daily, will begin vaccinations on Wednesday, February 24. For the first week of scheduling, appointments are reserved for eligible people living in areas with low vaccination rates (see zip codes served). After one week, appointments at each site will be open to all eligible residents of the site’s borough.

A person in Nassau County has New York’s first confirmed case of the South African COVID-19 variant.

The FDA will meet February 26 to review the Janssen Biotech single-dose vaccine application from Johnson & Johnson. The public can livestream the meeting on the U.S. FDA YouTube channel.

We’re offering updates via email or mobile on the coronavirus now through the duration of the pandemic. Sign up for email alerts here, or text UPDATES to 30644 for mobile notifications.

Re-Openings

Sports and entertainment events in major stadiums and arenas in New York with a capacity of 10,000 or more people can re-open with limited spectators beginning February 23.

Movie theaters can reopen at 25% capacity—or 50 people maximum—on March 5.

Beginning March 15, weddings and catered events can resume statewide. Venues are restricted to 50 percent capacity, with no more than 150 people per event. All attendees and patrons must be tested prior to the event.

Firing Line with Margaret Hoover

Firing Line is broadcast Fridays at 8:30 p.m., Saturdays at 10 a.m. and streams live.

February 19: Epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm


Epidemiologist Dr. Osterholm says new COVID-19 strains will likely cause cases to surge in March. Dr. Osterholm, who was on Biden’s transition task force, says the U.S. needs to revise its vaccine and mask strategies now to save lives.

GZERO WORLD with Ian Bremmer

Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. and streams live.

February 27: Dr. Fauci’s Pandemic Prognosis


Dr. Anthony Fauci, known to many over the past year as “America’s doctor,” joins the show to talk vaccines, school re-openings, and when—and how—the pandemic may finally end.

PBS NewsHour Reports

PBS NewsHour is broadcast weeknights at 7 p.m. and weekends at 6 p.m. and streams live. Listen to half-hour broadcasts on 88.3 WLIW-FM weeknights at 6 p.m.

February 25: Why Many Health Care Workers Are Delaying Vaccinations


COVID-19 vaccines were developed with record-breaking speed, and by late last year they were rolled out to frontline health care workers across the country. But despite being first in line many of those workers have decided to delay getting the shot. Amna Nawaz reports on the critical effort to vaccinate America’s health care professionals.

February 23: Why the U.S. Vaccine Rollout Has Been Slower Than Expected


So far, 65 million Americans have received at least one shot of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. As a country, the U.S. has recently picked up the pace of vaccinations, but there are concerns over supply and demand, which was the subject of a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

February 22: U.S. Death Toll from COVID-19 Reaches 500,000


The U.S. on Monday marked a new, watershed moment in the COVID-19 pandemic with 500,000 confirmed deaths. It comes even as daily increases in infections and deaths have slowed sharply in recent weeks. William Brangham reports, and Judy Woodruff speaks with Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Georgetown University Center for Global Health Science and Security, to learn more.

February 21: When Will Children Be Vaccinated for COVID-19?


As COVID-19 vaccinations continue to expand to new groups of people, there is the question of when children can begin to get shots. Dr. Fauci recently said children as young as first-graders may be vaccinated by the start of school in September. Caroline Chen covers public health at ProPublica, and joined Hari Sreenivasan for more on what we know about kids and COVID-19.

Amanpour and Company

Amanpour and Company

Left to right: Walter Isaacson, Michel Martin, Christiane Amanpour, Hari Sreenivasan

Amanpour and Company airs Monday – Friday at 11 p.m.; repeats at 4 p.m. Watch broadcast or livestream.

February 26: Why Was COVID Data Withheld from New York Families?


New York’s Governor Cuomo is under fire for his lack of transparency about the number of COVID-19 deaths in the state’s nursing homes. While the governor insists there was no cover-up, he does acknowledge that the information should have been released sooner. Errol Louis, a seasoned political host for “Inside City Hall” on the NY1 channel, joins Michel Martin to discuss this unfolding story.

February 24: Pandemic Shaming Doesn’t Work Says Harvard Epidemiologist


As vaccines continue to be rolled out, it is essential that we learn how to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 in a sustainable way. Julia Marcus is an expert in infectious disease who sees clear parallels between HIV and our current pandemic — especially in terms of messaging about infection risk. She speaks with Hari Sreenivasan about strategies for risk management and enabling better decisions.

February 23: Global Experts Explain the Keys to Vaccine Distribution


The U.S. has given at least one vaccine dose to around 13% of its people – substantially behind nations like the UK and Israel. Those two countries have plenty of lessons to offer about vaccine distribution and a gradual emergence from lockdown. The UK’s vaccine minister and the chair of Israel’s COVID-19 National Experts Panel join Christiane to explain the keys to a successful vaccine rollout.

MetroFocus Interviews

MetroFocus hosts Rafael Pi Roman, Jenna Flanagan and Jack Ford.

MetroFocus hosts Rafael Pi Roman, Jenna Flanagan and Jack Ford.

MetroFocus airs weeknights at 6 p.m. (see schedule for late-night and weekends) and livestreams; listen weeknights on 88.3 WLIW-FM at 11 p.m..

February 24: Everything You Need to Know About the COVID Vaccine


From the lab to your living room, adult and pediatric infectious disease immunologist and investigator with the COVID vaccine trials Dr. Purvi Parikh is on call to answer your questions and concerns about getting the vaccine.

February 17: COVID Nursing Home Controversy & Coverup


How many New York State nursing home residents have died as a result of COVID-19? That question is at the heart of a spiraling crisis engulfing the Cuomo administration and fueling accusations of a coverup, and calls for the governor to be stripped of his emergency powers. Beth Finkel, State Director of AARP’s New York Office, joins us with the latest developments on this breaking New York story.

NJ Spotlight News with Briana Vannozzi

NJ Spotlight News provides daily reporting on the coronavirus in New Jersey, as well as newsletters.

February 26: J&J Vaccines Could Help Those in Hard-to-Reach Communities


NJ 10th district legislators, including Assemblyman Greg McGuckin, have been campaigning to bring the vaccine directly to elderly residents in 55 and older communities.

February 26: Could ‘Worrisome’ New COVID-19 Strains Threaten Progress?


The Department of Health says more than 50 cases of the variant first detected in the UK have been found in the state. And leaders assume a troublesome new variant detected in New York is already circulating in New Jersey. How tough will it be to fend off dangerous new variants? Anchor Briana Vannozzi asked Rutgers University professor of medicine and infectious disease Dr. Martin Blaser.

February 24: FDA Finds Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Safe and Effective


The FDA finds the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe and effective against severe COVID-19 disease and prevents hospitalizations and deaths. Emergency use could be authorized as soon as this week.

February 24: Tests Found Rare COVID-19 Mutation in New Jersey


Genome sequencing tests have identified one rare COVID-19 virus mutation at a NJ medical facility and data suggest others could soon be found in samples taken from around Union County. Both situations highlight the need for more widespread COVID-19 genomic sequencing tests by the state across NJ, according to some scientists.

February 23: Newark’s COVID-19 Positivity Rate Decreases


The city of Newark has managed to decrease the COVID-19 positivity rate to lower than the state’s. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka says curfews and restrictions on businesses have helped minimize the number of positive coronavirus cases.

February 19: Here’s Why You Should Double Mask, And How To Do It Right


As highly contagious variants of the coronavirus begin to circulate more widely, Dr. Stephanie Silvera says it’s time to double up on masks. The Montclair State University epidemiologist says she’s been wearing two masks since November. But she warns that wearing any two masks isn’t going to cut it, and that a tight fit is key.

Hotlines and Information

Stay-in-the-know about what’s on-air and online at THIRTEEN. Sign-up for free weekly eNewsletters, including on coronavirus reports.

Government Sites and Resources

In New York State and New York City, use the  ‘Am I Eligible’ screening tool to see if you are eligible to make a vaccine appointment; eligible people include healthcare workers, teachers, first-responders and adults with comorbidities and underlying conditions.

National: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The CDC’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) page includes links to national case reporting, symptom information, advisories by health condition and occupation, and more.

New York City

COVID-19 Cases

Yankee Stadium is now open as a mass vaccination site specifically and exclusively for Bronx residents who are 65 or older or in other eligible groups.

Vaccine Distribution

Eligible New Yorkers can make their vaccine appointments using the City’s Vaccine Finder, which aggregates all vaccination locations open to the eligible public into a single, accessible five-borough network, including city-run sites and private providers. Those eligible can also call for an appointment at 877-VAX-4NYC 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. See the NYC vaccine information page for city guidelines.

See the groups that are now eligible for the vaccine in New York.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sites at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and York College in Queens, open daily 8 a.m.–8 p.m. daily, will begin vaccinations on Wednesday, February 24. For the first week of scheduling, appointments are reserved for eligible people living in areas with low vaccination rates (see zip codes served). After one week, appointments at each site will be open to all eligible residents of the site’s borough.

The City’s Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity has expanded its Vaccine for All effort to 33 neighborhoods. The task force also released demographic information of vaccine recipients.

COVID Testing

COVID Express sites offer free rapid COVID-19 virus PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, by scheduled appointment. Learn more on NYC.gov.

NYC tracks positive COVID-19 cases by zip code; you can review a map reflecting cases in the past seven days.

NYC’s official COVID-19 site with information on testing, resources (including rent and housing and more), and announcements: www.nyc.gov/coronavirus.

For text updates from New York City, text COVID to 692-692. You will receive regular SMS texts with helpful behavior tips and news related to the coronavirus. Text COVIDESP to 692-692 for updates in Spanish.

Work and Assistance

Employers and employees can visit nyc.gov/workers or call 311 (212-NEW-YORK outside NYC) for labor law information and more.

The state has a web application to help struggling New Yorkers locate benefits they may qualify for. “Find Services” is an easy starting point for first-time users of social programs that relate to unemployment, food insecurity, and housing, among other services.

New York City Public Schools and Learning

Create a NYC Schools Account to sign up for Department of Education notifications and track your child’s education.

For free homework help from a teacher, K-12 students and their parents or caregivers can call 212-777-3380 or visit the Dial-A-Teacher website Mondays through Thursdays 4–7 p.m.

New York State

NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065
For all New York State updates and announcements from Governor Andrew Cuomo, see the state COVID site.

Vaccine Distribution

To confirm eligibility and see instructions for vaccine appointments at state-run locations, see this New York State site.

Those eligible can call the New York State COVID vaccine scheduling hotline; calls are accepted 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., though lines may be busy and hold times lengthy: 833-697-4829.

The state documents its vaccination distribution through a vaccine tracker that includes first and second doses given.

As of February 15, state-run COVID-19 vaccination sites (appointments required through ny.gov/vaccine) are booked through April 16, with the only exceptions being:

  • New York State Fair outside Syracuse  – Booked through March 16
  • SUNY Potsdam – Booked through April 1
  • Rochester Dome – Booked through April 4
  • SUNY Stony Brook on Long Island – Booked through April 13

See other community pop-up sites in New York City, Long Island and Westchester County, on the New York State site.

Micro-Cluster Hot Spots

Look up an address to see if it is in a New York COVID-19 color-coded Hot Spot Zone with restrictions. There are currently micro-clusters in Upper Manhattan in the Bronx according to the state site last updated January 27. Maps of the cluster zones can be found here.

The places and activities regulated are non-essential gatherings, businesses, dining, and schools.

Governor Cuomo’s weekday coronavirus updates focus on hospital and ICU bed availability in New York State’s regions, based on seven-day averages. See the status of regions on forward.ny.gov.

COVID Alert NY is a voluntary, anonymous, exposure-notification smartphone app. You will get an alert if you were in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. Learn more about how it works and download it to your mobile phone.

The New York State Department of Health posts a daily COVID-19 tracker case tally by county.

New Jersey

NJ State COVID-19 Hotline: 1-800-962-1253
NJ State Vaccine Hotline: 1-855-568-0545
Text NJCOVID to 898-211 to receive text updates.

The State of New Jersey coronavirus hub is covid19.nj.gov.

Vaccine Distribution

New Jersey residents age 16-64 who have medical conditions recognized by the CDC to increase the risk of severe illness from the coronavirus are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination.

Pre-register for a COVID-19 vaccine and learn more about the vaccine distribution in New Jersey on the official state vaccine hub. The telephone hotline to make an appointment is 855-568-0545.

The State offers answers to more FAQs as well as outlines policies for health care providers on this COVID-19 vaccine page from the health department.

Remote Learning Resources from WNET Education

To better serve families during the COVID-19 pandemic, The WNET Group offers At Home Learning educational programming.

Let’s Learn weekday lessons led by NYC DOE educators for grades 3K- 2 are broadcast at 11 a.m. on THIRTEEN and 9 a.m. on WLIW21, followed on WLIW21 by a NJTV Learning Live lesson for 3rd graders at 10 a.m., 4th graders at 11 a.m., and 5th graders at 12 p.m.

Broadcast schedules on WLIW21, WLIW World and PBS Kids were developed to help schools and districts bridge the digital divide and provide equitable access to learning for all students at home, regardless of access to the internet or computers.

Help keep students learning at home with tools for parents and educators on WNET’s Education site. All resources are free and standards-aligned.