COVID-19 Reports and Vaccine Rollout: March 22-26

March 23, 2021

A still from a PBS NewsHour segment on March 19, 2021.

THIRTEEN and PBS offer regular, in-depth reporting on the coronavirus pandemic’s COVID-19 cases and vaccine 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

As of March 23, the eligibility age range for vaccination has expanded to 50 and up in New York. Also, pharmacies can now vaccinate New Yorkers with qualifying health conditions, and those 50 and older, and continue serving educators, childcare workers and essential workers.

Last week, New Jersey led the nation in COVID-19 cases per capita among U.S. states, and it was one of some 20 states with rising rates of infection.

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

On April 2, New York City’s arts and entertainment venues expect to reopen at 33% capacity, with an indoor capacity of 100-150 attendees.

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.

March 25: Shot Chasers: Volunteers Help Bridge America’s Vaccine Gap


As the U.S. continues to grapple with the pandemic, vaccine supply remains limited in some areas. Distribution systems are fragmented and tough to navigate, especially for the estimated 25 million Americans who don’t have internet access for online registration. Luckily, these volunteers are trying to fill that gap by helping strangers nab slots to get their shots. John Yang reports.

March 23: AstraZeneca Scrambles to Address Concerns About Vaccine Data


AstraZeneca is facing new questions today after a highly unusual reprimand from a board overseeing the company’s clinical vaccine trials.The company is scrambling to respond to allegations that it used misleading data when claiming its vaccine was 79 percent effective against COVID-19 symptoms. Nick Schifrin breaks down the latest with epidemiologist Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo of Johns Hopkins University.

March 23: News Wrap: Fauci Says U.S. May See COVID Surge Like Europe


In our news wrap Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the U.S. risks seeing a surge similar to that in Europe if public health measures are rescinded too soon. The new wave of European infections forced Germany to extend its lockdown measures by a month.

March 22: Trial Data Shows AstraZeneca Vaccine 79% Effective


In the largest COVID vaccine trial yet, AstraZeneca’s vaccine was 79 percent effective in preventing symptomatic infections, the company announced Monday. AstraZeneca’s vaccine has also been shown to be extremely effective at preventing the most serious outcomes from COVID-19, the company said. William Brangham discusses the latest inoculation news with Boston University’s Dr. Nahid Bhadelia.

March 20: Tantrums, Anxiety: Parenting During a Pandemic


There is little doubt that parenting during a pandemic has been challenging, and even with schools starting to reopen, the disruption to routines and structure has created new anxieties for parents and children alike. Hari Sreenivasan spoke with clinical psychologist and parenting consultant Becky Kennedy, whose Instagram page has become a must-read for many families looking for advice.

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.

March 24: WHO’s Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan on Vaccine Inequality


This week, the head of the World Health Organization said it was “shocking” how little had been done to combat vaccine inequality and added that the gap is “becoming more grotesque every day.” The WHO’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, joins Christiane from Geneva.

March 22: The Psychological Impact of the Pandemic in the Future


Where the vaccine rollout has been successful, a return to normality is on the horizon. But some may be wondering whether they remember what “normal” means. Christiane spoke with clinical psychologist Christine Runyan about that brain fog you may be feeling.

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..

March 24: COVID Stimulus Child Tax Credit | New CDC Guidelines as Kids Head Back to Classrooms


The $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill recently passed by Congress and signed by President Biden will bring a huge infusion of money to state and local economies across the country. But perhaps the most historic piece of this unprecedented legislation is the child tax credit: a measure that would result in most American families with children receiving monthly payments from the federal government. New York congressman Ritchie Torres, one of the key proponents of the measure, wants to go a step further by making the child tax credit permanent, arguing that it will significantly reduce child poverty in the country’s poorest communities which includes his own district in the south Bronx. He discusses what could be the most consequential expansion of the nation’s social safety net in generations. | New York City high school students returned to their classrooms this week for the first time since November. The re-opening coincided with another big development that may help get more students back to in-person learning not only in New York, but nationwide: the new CDC guidance on social distancing in the classroom. The previous six feet of distance between students has been reduced to three, with other proper protocols in place. But many families are asking themselves, is that really safe? And what will this look like as we move forward? Former NBC chief medical correspondent Dr. Bob Arnot joins us with answers.

NJ Spotlight News with Briana Vannozzi

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

March 26: Rutgers Will Require COVID-19 Vaccination for Students


Rutgers University this week became the first college in the country to announce it will require all students who want to return to campus classes and dorms in the fall to be vaccinated against COVID-19, with some exemptions allowed.

March 25: Studies Show COVID-19 Vaccines Protect Healthcare Workers


Several new studies now show health care workers, the first wave of people to get COVID-19 shots, enjoyed significant protections from the virus after getting fully immunized. And that helped shield members of their households from getting infected, too. For folks who doubted vaccine trials, the studies provide proof that these vaccines work.

March 24: NJ Adopts New CDC School Guidelines for Fall Reopening


The state is co-signing new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that will allow more schools to open for in-person learning. New Jersey will let K-12 districts lower their social distancing requirement from 6 feet to just 3 feet in most classrooms.

March 24: Will Businesses Mandate COVID-19 Vaccinations for Workers?


Your boss can make you get a COVID-19 shot before you return to work in person with a few exceptions, but will they? As NJ businesses grapple with that issue now, some workers fear their privacy could be violated if bosses demand proof of vaccination exemptions.

March 24: Should NJ Expand COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility?


This week New York opened up vaccine eligibility to everyone age 50 and over. The threshold in NJ remains firm at age 65, with a focus on essential workers and those with underlying conditions. Is it the most effective method? Dr. Judith Lightfoot, the chief of infectious disease at Rowan University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine, says it was but now it’s time for NJ to open up.

March 23: What’s the Timeline for Reaching Herd Immunity in NJ?


The concept of herd immunity is reached when enough people in a community have either been infected with the virus or vaccinated against it. Rutgers University professor of medicine and infectious disease Dr. Martin Blaser says the answer depends on a lot of variables.

March 22: A Pause in Reopening in NJ as Coronavirus Variants Surge


Gov. Phil Murphy is hitting the pause button on further re-openings in the state, after highly infectious COVID-19 virus variants surged in New Jersey. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated the UK variant B117 currently accounts for 9% of COVID-19 cases in New Jersey.

March 19: COVID-19 Hotlines and Clinics Boost Vaccinations for Seniors


With COVID-19 vaccination rates lagging for NJ seniors and people of color, who are most vulnerable to the virus, grassroots community groups are reaching out to help make appointments for shots. Critics claim that’s a job the state needs to do better.

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.

See new guidelines from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Government Sites and Resources

In New York State and New York City, all government-run vaccination centers require an advance appointment. Make one via the ‘Am I Eligible’ website or call the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline 1-833-697-4829.

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

For a full list of New York State-operated vaccination sites, including Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sites in Brooklyn and Queens, see the New York State site. Sites are also listed according to whether they have appointments available.

National: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

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

For those who are fully vaccinated, the CDC offers guidelines of behavior and safety precautions.

New York City

Sunday, March 14 was an official day of remembrance of those lost to COVID-19 in New York City. Watch the ceremony online now, which includes testimonies from health care workers, families, and views of the Brooklyn Bridge, with the images and names of those who died projected onto it: nyc.gov/covidmemorial.

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.

COVID-19 Cases

For the latest number of cases, trends and a look at data by NYC neighborhood, see the New York City COVID-19 data page.

Vaccine Distribution

Eligible New Yorkers can make their vaccine appointments using the City’s Vaccine Finder, which aggregates all vaccination locations including private providers like pharmacies. Those eligible can also call for an appointment at 877-VAX-4NYC (877-829-4692) 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.

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.

Work, Resources and Assistance

To see all kinds of resources available to communities by zip code, begin by selecting a NYC borough on this City resource page.

New York City’s Vaccine for All Corps is hiring 2,000 New Yorkers to serve their communities’s vaccination efforts. Residents in the 33 Task Force for Racial Inclusion and Equity neighborhoods will receive priority in hiring clinical, support and administrative roles. Jobseekers should visit nyc.gov/vaccinejobs

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.

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

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

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

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, daily 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.: 833-697-4829 (833-NYS-4VAX).

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

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 Appointments: 1-855-568-0545
Text NJCOVID to 898-211 to receive text updates.

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

The health department has new guidelines as of March 23 for visits at nursing homes and other long-term care centers. Indoor visits at facilities where 70% or more residents are fully vaccinated are allowed, regardless of COVID-19 statistics in a facility’s surrounding area.

Vaccine Distribution

New Jersey residents 65 and older, and those 16-64 who have medical conditions recognized by the CDC to increase the risk of severe illness from the coronavirus, are among those eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination. See all who qualify for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Beginning March 29, additional frontline essential workers will be eligible to book vaccine appointments.

Pre-register for a COVID-19 vaccine and learn more about the vaccine distribution in New Jersey on the official state vaccine hub.

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

Although 20 percent of the city’s high school students returned to New York City classrooms on March 22, many families opted for in-person learning for the rest of the year. To better serve families during the COVID-19 pandemic, The WNET Group offers At Home Learning educational programming. Help keep students learning at home with tools for parents and educators on WNET’s Education site. All resources are free and standards-aligned.

Let’s Learn weekday lessons led by NYC DOE educators for grades 3K- 2 are broadcast at 11 a.m. on THIRTEEN and at 8 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.