NYC parks have become `people’s everything’


NEW YORK (AP) — Oases in the best of times, New York City’s parks have served as essential refuges through the hard times of the pandemic — havens for the city’s millions who yearn to escape their locked-down apartments, to breathe fresh air and enjoy some elbow room.

Parks Department spokeswoman Crystal Howard said that in the depths of the city’s near-death experience last spring, “the parks became people’s everything.”

They’ve gone to the parks for music, for art, to work out. Children roam the green spaces, individually and in classes. Bikes cruise the trails, basketballs find the hoops, skates glide across the rinks. In a city still crippled by the coronavirus, the parks are a throwback to better, busier days.

“We don’t track park users,” Howard said. “But anecdotally, we know that there was beyond a noticeable increase in trash” — which is a problem. The pandemic has blown a huge hole in the city’s budget, forcing it to slash $84 million from parks funding.

So the Parks Department launched an anti-litter campaign, posting signs urging New Yorkers to “Show Your Parks Some Love.” And it has enlisted volunteers to augment the cleanup effort.

The creation of the city’s parks system, now encompassing 14% of the city’s land and 1,700 green spaces, was part of a movement inspired by another contagion — cholera.

“The 19th century urban park was created largely as a public health measure,” said Thomas J. Campanella, a Brooklyn native who is the Parks Department’s historian-in-residence and an associate professor of urban landscape at Cornell University.

Campanella said that after major cholera outbreaks in the first half of the 1800s, the medical profession called for measures to “bring the country into the city, to create a rural landscape in the city.”

That, he said, was the origin of Central, Prospect and Fort Greene parks. In fact, Frederick Law Olmstead, who designed all three parks with Calvert Vaux, lost a child to cholera; he believed parks could act like urban lungs as “outlets for foul air and inlets for pure air.”

A walk through Prospect Park in the depths of a pandemic winter offers proof that Olmsted’s vision is still embraced.

On the park’s southwest corner, fitness instructor “Curly Shirley” Catton, clad in rainbow-colored leggings, gathered a group of similarly attired women for her “High on Life” class. Catton says her class includes “fitness, breathwork, meditation, and positivity,” for “a blend of fitness and nature.”

Listening through headphones, the women followed music tracks and Catton’s commands, enthusiastically dancing, leaping and skipping through the open meadows and paths.

“There’s always a new route to take. The foliage and the trees are always different. I love the park’s energy … people just want to see others having a good time,” Catton said.

Meanwhile, teacher Noah Mayers led about a dozen students from the Brooklyn Apple Academy, a homeschool resource and community center, to a barbecue area where they gathered tinder, lit a small fire and roasted marshmallows.

“We used to force everyone to go outside in the past. But the last couple of years, we were staying indoors more and more. I had gone from a teacher who usually spent the whole day outside to spending the whole day inside,” he said.

“Now we’re just all outside all the gosh-darn time. I work 40 hours a week,” he added. “Out of 24 hours of teaching, I’m only spending six to eight hours indoors. Being outside it feels a lot safer. We’re not breathing on each other. Usually, we’re running around in the park.”

When the pandemic’s prohibition against large gatherings forced Brooklyn’s BRIC Arts and Prospect Park Alliance to cancel an annual summer-long set of performances at the park’s bandshell, they invited Mildred Beltré and Oasa DuVerney of Brooklyn Hi-Art Machine! to create a public art installation to “activate” the space.

The pair designed and installed a giant neon weaving to span the bandshell’s empty, cordoned-off stage. Their installation is based on a Lucille Clifton poem cited in the weaving and is also inspired by Assata Shakur’s poem “What is Left.” It can be seen from afar and reads: “Come Celebrate with Me That Everyday Something Has Tried to Kill Me And Has Failed.”

The idea, Beltre said, is to “put forth a celebration of Black women’s lives which doesn’t separate it from the current struggles we have during the pandemic. Hopefully the weaving resonates with everyone who sees it. They’re like, ‘Whoa, I survived another day.’ For Black people, people of color, indigenous people, for us it’s more of a daily occurrence … it preceded the pandemic, and it will likely continue after.”

For others, like Brooklyn resident Melissa Creighton, the park is a blank slate for “adventuring” with her 7-year-old son, Bo Singer, and his friend.

“The way things have changed, there’s no swimming lessons, no soccer, nothing organized for the kids,” she said. “We used to ride on the paths and be headed someplace specific. Now we’re riding on dirt paths, through the mud. It’s … really exhilarating.”

These days, she said, it’s “a deeper adventure. We even … pick up trash. Life was more organized before.”

Now, she said, it’s wilder.

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Woman tackled, falsely accused Black teen of stealing her phone in NYC hotel, father says


NEW YORK —
A confrontation in which a man said a woman tackled his 14-year-old Black son in a New York City hotel lobby as she falsely accused the teen of stealing her phone is under investigation, city prosecutors said Monday.

Keyon Harrold, a prominent jazz trumpeter, posted a widely viewed video of the confrontation Saturday at the Arlo Hotel. He said the unidentified woman scratched him and tackled and grabbed his son, Keyon Harrold Jr., at the lower Manhattan hotel where the pair were staying.

“He’s the sweetest, most genuine kid you could ask for,” Harrold said in an interview Monday evening. “I was just appalled at how he was treated.”

The video shows an agitated woman demanding her phone be returned while a hotel manager tries to settle the situation. At one point, the woman appears to rush forward and says, “I’m not letting him walk away with my phone!”

Harrold said the phone was returned by an Uber driver shortly afterward.

The confrontation prompted comparisons to recent incidents involving false accusations against Black people.

A white woman was charged with filing a false report for calling 911 and saying she was being threatened by “an African American man” during a dispute with a Black man in New York’s Central Park in May. That case inspired New York state lawmakers in June to pass a law that makes it easier under civil rights law to sue an individual who calls a police officer on someone “without reason” because of their background, including race and national origin.

“There are thousands of Black men sitting in prison who have been falsely accused,” Harrold said. “That’s why we have to address incidents like this now, before they become life altering, life impacting issues that negatively and devastatingly affect Black people.”

The parents of Keyon Harrold Jr. and civil rights attorney Ben Crump issued a statement Monday, calling on the Manhattan district attorney to bring assault and battery charges against the woman “to send the message that hateful, racially motivated behaviour is unacceptable.”

“As this year of racial awareness is drawing to a close, it’s deeply troubling that incidents like this one, in which a Black child is viewed as and treated like a criminal, continue to happen,” read the statement.

Crump and the Harrold family also called for a civil rights investigation into the Arlo Hotel “for its implicit bias” in its treatment of the teen.

New York City police did not identify the woman, saying only that there was a harassment complaint on file for an incident Saturday inside the hotel. A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said the office is “thoroughly investigating this incident” but did not elaborate.

Hotel management said in a posting Sunday they reached out to Harrold and his son to apologize.

“We’re deeply disheartened about the recent incident of baseless accusation, prejudice, and assault against an innocent guest of Arlo Hotel,” they said in a Facebook post.

Keyon Harrold is originally from Ferguson, Missouri, and lives in New York City. He has performed with musicians including Beyonce, Rihanna and Eminem, according to his website.

——

Associated Press journalist Mary Esch contributed to this report from Albany, New York.





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De Blasio announces sheriff’s deputies will go to homes of UK travelers to NYC, ensure quarantine


New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday that travelers from the U.K. will receive a quarantine order as well as a  home visit from a sheriff’s deputy — as part of an aggressive effort to prevent that spread of a more infectious strain of the coronavirus.

The mayor said he was taking action in light of the mutated strain of the virus that has emerged in the U.K. and has caused a number of European countries to slap various travel restrictions on the country.

DE BLASIO SAYS CORONAVIRUS SHUTDOWN COMING ‘IN THE WEEKS AHEAD,’ POSSIBLY RIGHT AFTER CHRISTMAS 

De Blasio announced that all travelers to New York City will receive a personalized Department of Health commissioner’s order to quarantine by mail.

“This will be a personal and direct order to every single one of them, telling them they must quarantine — and that will be given to all travelers beyond…anyone coming in just from the U.K.,” he said.

However, travelers from the U.K. will also be receiving a knock on the door from law enforcement at their home or hotel to ensure they are locked down.

“But specifically for folks coming in from the U.K., given that particular concern we are going to have sheriff’s deputies go to the home or the hotel of every single traveler coming in from the U.K.,” the mayor said.

UK MUTATED CORONAVIRUS STRAIN LIKELY ALREADY IN US, OFFICIALS SAY 

He said anyone found not to be quarantining would be fined $1,000 immediately and then $1,000 for every additional day they are not quarantining after that.

“We don’t want to, but if you don’t follow quarantine, you’re endangering everyone else in the city, right as we’re fighting the second wave,” he said.

New York City has struggled to keep the virus under control despite continual restrictions that have seen restaurants never open for indoor dining at anything more than 25% capacity — and recently even that was ended amid a rising surge in cases and hospitalization.

De Blasio recently warned that the Big Apple was likely to see a new shutdown, possibly after Christmas, given the continued surge of the virus over the holidays.

“So I think, unfortunately, and I don’t say it with anything but sorrow, but I do think it’s needed, we’re going to need to do some kind of shutdown in the weeks ahead, something that resembles the pause we were in in the spring,” he said last week.

He announced Wednesday that the city saw 224 hospitalizations, above its 200 threshold, and has registered 2,789 new cases and a seven-day positivity rate of 6.19% — above the 5% desired threshold.

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The new restrictions are the latest move by New York to stop the spread from the U.K.

On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he asked three major airlines to add New York state to the list of 120 countries requiring passengers traveling from the U.K. to get a negative test result before boarding flights. 

Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and Delta have all since agreed and will require a negative test before boarding flights to New York. 

Fox News’ Kayla Rivas contributed to this report.



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NYC reverses ban on outdoor diners being able to use restaurant bathrooms after backlash


New York City officials have quietly changed nonsensical rules which banned diners from using restaurant bathrooms, even to wash their hands, when having a meal outdoors.  

On the NYC Counsel to the Mayor’s website on Thursday night, a new set of rules stated that no patrons would be allowed inside a bar or a restaurant for any reason, even to use the bathroom. 

On Friday morning, the state liquor authority insisted this wasn’t the case and that  restaurant owners could ‘of course’ let people inside to use the bathroom but that they had to wear a face covering.   

‘This is common sense: of course outdoor dining patrons can use a restaurant’s bathroom as long as they wear a face covering. 

‘That always has been and will continue to be allowed,’ a spokesman told DailyMail.com.  

The guidance on the Counsel to the Mayor’s website was swiftly changed to say bathroom use would be allowed.

But by then, irate and confused restaurant owners had seen it. They had received none of the communication directly and have been relying on refreshing websites since the beginning of the pandemic to get the information.   

Thursday night: The new rules for NYC restaurants include that diners, even if they’re outside, can’t enter to use the bathroom. It was immediately slammed 

Friday: The rules had changed after backlash. The State Liquor Authority said it had always been the case that bathroom use was allowed

Friday: The rules had changed after backlash. The State Liquor Authority said it had always been the case that bathroom use was allowed 

People braving the cold and snow on Wednesday night in New York City. Outdoor dining is now the only kind allowed

People braving the cold and snow on Wednesday night in New York City. Outdoor dining is now the only kind allowed 

Restaurants have also been told their outdoor solutions to the ban won't be allowed unless they have two open sides. Pictured, a restaurant employee clearing their structure on Thursday, after a snowstorm which closed outdoor dining anyway for the evening

Restaurants have also been told their outdoor solutions to the ban won’t be allowed unless they have two open sides. Pictured, a restaurant employee clearing their structure on Thursday, after a snowstorm which closed outdoor dining anyway for the evening

The punishing directives are just the latest in a string of blows to the industry that many now fear will completely die because of the harsh line taken. 

When asked about it on Friday at his daily press conference, Gov. Cuomo laughed and said he didn’t have specific details. 

‘I don’t know the specifics but there was never an intention to tell diners you can’t use a restroom. That was never the intention of the state regulation.

‘I don’t have any more specifics before that…. does anyone know more about it?’ he asked his staff. 

Melissa De Rosa, one of his senior aides, leaped in and said the city misquoted old language and that they thought it was ‘common sense’ diners would always be able to access bathrooms. 

‘They used some of the same language from [an old FAQ] which said people couldn’t dine inside. We thought it was common sense that it didn’t mean using the bathroom. 

‘The city issued what they issued yesterday without consulting us. As soon we heard the news reports, the head of the SLA put out a clarifying statement. It was not talking about customers using the bathrooms,’ she said.

Last week, Gov. Cuomo put an end to all indoor dining in New York City because, he claimed, the rate of transmission in NYC is higher than anywhere else. 

But he hasn’t shared what that rate of transmission is, and NYC has the second lowest COVID test positivity rate of anywhere in the state. 

What’s more Manhattan, which has the highest number of bars and restaurants per square mile than any other borough, has by far the lowest COVID test positivity rate at 2.7 percent. 

That is compared to 4.7 percent statewide – which is still among the lowest in the country. 

Now many are wondering what Cuomo and de Blasio’s motivations are for keeping the restaurants closed.  

An enormous snowstorm on Wednesday night closed outdoor dining temporarily.  

It was allowed to resume on Thursday but with temperatures in the 30s, there are few willing to brace the cold, despite the best efforts of restaurant owners to provide outdoor heaters. 

All bars and restaurants were told to stop service on March 16. 

They have not had any federal or state help since April, and restaurant owners are crying out for relief.

They are championing the CARES Act, which will give them specific relief, rather than lumping them in with other businesses – like retailers – who have been open for months.   

COVID deaths in NYC have never crept back up to a worrying extent despite a surge in cases

COVID deaths in NYC have never crept back up to a worrying extent despite a surge in cases

Hospitalizations in New York City are a sixth of what they were in the spring

Hospitalizations in New York City are a sixth of what they were in the spring 

The statewide COVID test positivity rate is 5.1 percent but it varies enormously from 8.1 percent in the Finger Lakes to 4 percent in NYC. Manhattan's rate is 2.77 percent but Staten Island's is 5.1 percent and the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens are all in between.

The statewide COVID test positivity rate is 5.1 percent but it varies enormously from 8.1 percent in the Finger Lakes to 4 percent in NYC. Manhattan’s rate is 2.77 percent but Staten Island’s is 5.1 percent and the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens are all in between.

The decision was met with incredulity and outrage not just by restaurant owners but diners too

The decision was met with incredulity and outrage not just by restaurant owners but diners too

Restaurants have tried to come up with solutions like expensive outdoor heaters to lure in diners but with temperatures in the 30s, few are attracted to the prospect of sitting outside. They already were told to upgrade air filtration systems inside -another costly exercise - and had to apply for permits for the heaters

Restaurants have tried to come up with solutions like expensive outdoor heaters to lure in diners but with temperatures in the 30s, few are attracted to the prospect of sitting outside. They already were told to upgrade air filtration systems inside -another costly exercise – and had to apply for permits for the heaters 

Cuomo is asking the federal government to bail out restaurants by paying them to remain closed.  

Many say that is ‘extortion’, since he is the one who closed them in the first place. 

Restaurants were only allowed to serve food and drinks on a take-out and delivery basis from March 16 until June 22, when outdoor dining was finally allowed again.

But restaurants were quickly told they had to serve food with drinks and that it had to be a ‘substantial’ meal.  

Indoor dining didn’t resume until September 30 and even then, they had to limit the number of diners inside to a maximum of 25 percent of the total capacity. 

Cuomo promised never to shut down all of NYC again as he did in the spring by saying he would instead look at neighborhoods and boroughs which had the highest problem. 

He suddenly abandoned that plan last week and banned indoor dining city-wide.

The only reason he is giving for it is that the rate of transmission is high and New York is densely populated. 

Photos from Tuesday's Times Square protest where dozens demonstrated against the Governor's decision to end indoor dining. Many say it will stamp out the 'lifeblood' of NYC

Photos from Tuesday’s Times Square protest where dozens demonstrated against the Governor’s decision to end indoor dining. Many say it will stamp out the ‘lifeblood’ of NYC 

Now many are wondering what Cuomo and de Blasio's motivations are for keeping the restaurants closed.

Now many are wondering what Cuomo and de Blasio’s motivations are for keeping the restaurants closed.

‘You have the coincidence of two facts. 

‘You have the CDC which issued warnings on indoor dining last week and then you have the particular situation of New York City, which is one of the dense locations in this country with crowding, and you have an increase in the rT rate, the rate of transmission, which to me has always been the one of the seminal factors in this whole conversation.

‘You can talk about positivity rate, you can talk about hospital capacity, but that rT rate, that is the bottom line. That’s how fast virus. And the rT rate going up in a dense environment is really a compounding problem,’ he said.

The rT rate, he says, is 1:3 compared to 1:1 earlier in the year. 

But the infection rate in New York City – like everywhere else in the state in the country – is increasing predominantly because of private gatherings in the home. 

Thanksgiving drove a large spike and Christmas and Hanukkah are expected to as well. 

‘LIVES ARE AT STAKE HERE’: RESTAURANT INDUSTRY FURY OVER CUOMO’S DECISION

‘There is no scientific data in this decision making whatsoever. This is the nail in the coffin… it’s a disgrace.’  

Robert Mahon, who owns a group of restaurants including Toro Loco and Broadstone

‘This will be a 70 percent hit to revenue that was only just starting to build. We have no relief from fixed costs and now no ability now to earn to pay them off.

‘We are of course also worried about the rising numbers and keeping our staff and customers safe… we are just caught in a bad place.’ 

Ash Deshmukh, Short Stories

‘We’re going to try to remain open as much as possible but we’re going to have to lay off 50 percent of our staff. I was procrastinating that until after Christmas. 

‘In March, we had over our two restaurants, 100 staff. Now, we have 45. That’s going to go down to about 20.’ 

Eddie Fraunches, The Lovelace Cocktail and Gin Bar and Fraunces Tavern 

‘We’ll probably have to let all (200 of) the staff go – that’s a particularly daunting task given that Christmas is around the corner. Lives are at stake here. We’ve got all these employees with kids and it’s Christmas time, you know, Santa time. 

‘Most restaurateurs don’t have the money themselves to shell out to them – we’re broke too,’ he said. 

Ronan Downs, who owns eight businesses predominantly on Stone Street 

 ‘Governor Cuomo’s announcement to once again shut down indoor dining in New York City is at odds with the State’s own data that’s been presented as driving these decisions, and it will be the last straw for countless more restaurants and jobs.’ 

Andrew Rigie, New York Hospitality Alliance  



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Foot of snow expected in NYC






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AOC responds ‘Sex work is work,’ to report of NYC paramedic posting racy photos for cash


U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responded Tuesday night to a report that a New York City paramedic was supplementing her income during the coronavirus pandemic by working for a racy website.

“Sex work is work,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote, retweeting a Rolling Stone magazine story that accused the New York Post of shaming the paramedic, 23-year-old Lauren Kwei, for posting content to the OnlyFans site in order to earn extra money.

The New York Democrat said any shame should be directed at the federal government, not at sex workers.

“The federal gov has done almost nothing to help people in months,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “We must pass stimulus checks, UI, small biz relief, hospital funding, etc.

AOC BLAMES REPUBLICANS NOT WEARING MASKS FOR SHUTDOWNS

“Keep the focus of shame there,” Ocasio-Cortez added, “not on marginalizing people surviving a pandemic without help.”

Earlier this month, Ocasio-Cortez found herself agreeing with Republican U.S. Josh Hawley of Missouri, who has also called for stimulus checks for ordinary Americans to be part of the next coronavirus relief bill.

“I will gladly work w/ @AOC and anyone else who wants to help working families. Families and working people in need should be the FIRST consideration in COVID relief, not last,” Hawley wrote on Twitter on Dec. 4.

The Rolling Stone article reported that OnlyFans saw sign-ups by creators of racy content spike as much as 75 percent during the pandemic.

The article added that Kwei also worked as a hostess at a Korean restaurant in order to pay her bills – and then called out the Post for not “applauding her for her entrepreneurial spirit.”

The magazine also accuses the Post of imperiling Kwei’s job as a health care worker, although a representative of her employer, SeniorCare, told the Daily Beast there were no plans to terminate Kwei.

Ocasio-Cortez has previously advocated for decriminalizing sex work. Last year she joined fellow progressives Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., in backing the SAFE SEX Workers Study Act.

CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., argued at the time that the bill was needed to help determine whether sex-trafficking laws currently on the books were having the effect of knocking sex workers off online sites – only to force them into money-earning situations that might be more dangerous.

The bill was referred to the House subcommittee on health but there was no indication that it advanced beyond that point, according to the Congress.gov website.

 





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Winter storm trackers show snow path through Northeast, NYC



Remember snow? It’s back. Although it’s not officially winter yet, the East Coast of the United States is bracing for a powerful winter storm that could dump close to two feet of snow in parts of the area. According to CNN, more than 45 million people are already under a winter weather watch. New York City could see up to a foot of the white stuff, while parts of Pennsylvania could see up to 20 inches.

The storm is expected to hit Wednesday and continue into Thursday. For many in the region, it’s the first time they’ve had to worry about a snowy forecast in a while—not that anyone is going out much these days.

If you’re looking for ways to track the storm and wintery weather as it makes its way across the Northeast, I’ve rounded up some resources that offer real-time tracking. Good luck!





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Cuomo reinstates NYC indoor dining ban to limit virus spread – Long Island Business News


Indoor dining restrictions will be reinstated indefinitely in New York City, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue climbing in the city and throughout the state.

As of Monday, only takeout orders and outdoor dining will be allowed in the city, one of the world’s great cuisine capitals, the governor said at a news conference in Albany.

The Democrat had been hinting at a clampdown on indoor dining for a week, saying he was waiting to see if hospitalization rates stabilized. They have not, and Cuomo said that despite the economic pain to one of the city’s biggest and most vital industries, he needed to act.

“In New York City, you put the CDC caution on indoor dining together with the rate of transmission and the density and the crowding, that is a bad situation,” he said.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he supported Cuomo’s decision.

“This is painful. So many restaurants are struggling. But we can’t allow this virus to reassert itself in our city,” he said on Twitter.

The governor’s order came despite opposition from the beleaguered restaurant industry, which warned of holiday season layoffs at a time when the federal government has yet to pass additional COVID-19 relief.

And it comes as wintery weather has started to arrive in New York City, where the outdoor dining setups on sidewalks and in tents on the street are likely to be far less popular amid icy winds and, sometimes, blowing snow.

Public health experts have repeatedly warned that indoor dining — particularly in small, crowded restaurants where individuals are drinking and can take off masks when not eating — poses a risk for airborne transmission. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently described such indoor dining as “high risk.”

New York’s restaurants have been in trouble since the state closed nonessential businesses in March, which forced restaurants to rely on takeout and delivery.

As that shutdown was gradually lifted for many types of businesses, restaurants remained restricted. The state began allowing indoor dining in some regions outside of New York City in June, and Cuomo allowed indoor dining at 25% capacity in the city Sept. 30. In other parts of the state, restaurants are allowed to have half their tables filled.

Cuomo said he’s considering restrictions in other parts of the state, but didn’t announce any changes Friday. The spread of the virus in New York City has actually been lower than in many other parts of the state where restaurants remain less restricted.

Cuomo said New York City’s density made it different than other parts of the state.

Critics pointed to Cuomo’s repeated statements that small gatherings and “living room spread” appears to be fueling the second wave of virus infections. But the governor’s administration has acknowledged that New York is unable to identify a single source of transmission for about 80% of cases in late fall.





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More than half of NYC firefighters say they will NOT take a COVID vaccine


More than half of NYC firefighters say they will NOT take a COVID vaccine when it becomes available to them

  • A survey of 2,053 found that 55 percent said ‘no’ when asked ‘Will you get the COVID-19 Vaccine from Pfizer when the Department makes it available?’
  •  The poll was taken by the Uniformed Firefighters Association this week
  • NYC is setting up plans to distribute COVID-19 vaccines starting this month
  • But misinformation about its effects have contributed to uncertainty in taking it
  • The FDNY has already said the vaccine will not be mandatory 

More than half of NYC firefighters say they will not take a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them in the coming weeks.

A survey of 2,053 found that 55 percent said ‘no’ when asked ‘Will you get the COVID-19 Vaccine from Pfizer when the Department makes it available?’

The poll was taken by the Uniformed Firefighters Association this week, The New York Post reports. New York City is setting up plans to distribute COVID-19 vaccines starting this month, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday.

But misinformation about the effects of a vaccine and the original causes behind the coronavirus pandemic have contributed to the overall uncertainty in taking it. 

In August a similar survey found only 30 percent of 645 polled MTA worker said they would be definitely willing to be vaccinated; 38 percent were unsure, 32 percent said they would not take it. 

The FDNY has already said the vaccine will not be mandatory; workers at the city’s 11 public hospital will not have to take the shot either. And a petition called NY Teachers Against Vaccine Mandates for Educators has already been signed by more than 10,000 people.  

More than 24,000 people have died from the virus in the city; statewide the positivity rate reached 5 percent Saturday. 

More than half of NYC firefighters say they will not take a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them in the coming weeks (stock image)

New York City is setting up plans to distribute COVID-19 vaccines starting this month

New York City is setting up plans to distribute COVID-19 vaccines starting this month

Uniformed Firefighters Association President Andy Ansbro told The Post: ‘A lot of them probably feel they are not in a risk category, they are younger, stronger, they may have already had it and gotten through it, and feel it’s not their problem.

‘They are more familiar with the coronavirus than they are with the vaccine.’ 

Facebook has already said this week it will remove harmful anti-vaxx propaganda from the social media platform. 

A Facebook spokesperson said: ‘We are applying our policy to remove misinformation about the virus that could lead to imminent physical harm.

‘This could include false claims about the safety, efficacy, ingredients or side effects of the vaccines.

‘For example, we will remove false claims that Covid-19 vaccines contain microchips or anything else that isn’t on the official vaccine ingredient list.

‘We will also remove conspiracy theories about Covid-19 vaccines that we know today are false, like specific populations are being used without their consent to test the vaccine’s safety.’ 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that he hopes to receive 170,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on December 15, with additional vaccine shipments from Pfizer and Moderna within weeks. 

Health-care workers and nursing home residents and workers will be prioritized in the first wave of vaccinations, Cuomo said.  

Mayor de Blasio said: ‘We are working closely with the state of New York on a distribution plan with an important focus on those who have the greatest need and need to get the vaccine in the first efforts.’       

Both the Food and Drug Administrations and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend people receive vaccinations.

‘According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccines have reduced preventable infectious diseases to an all-time low and now few people experience the devastating effects of measles, pertussis and other illnesses,’ the FDA wrote.

The CDC added: ‘Vaccines can prevent infectious diseases that once killed or harmed many infants, children, and adults.’

Dr. Anthony Fauci has said: ‘A healthy non-elderly person with no recognizable underlying conditions, will likely start in the end of March, early April. Once you get into April, probably full blast with those individuals.’ 

HOW DO THE MODERNA AND PFIZER/BIONTECH VACCINES COMPARE?

Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech have both released interim results of the final stage clinical trials of their vaccines, with both suggesting they are extremely effective.

Here’s how they compare: 

PFIZER (US) & BIONTECH (DE)

mRNA vaccine – Genetic material from coronavirus is injected to trick immune system into making ‘spike’ proteins and learning how to attack them.

mRNA vaccine – both Moderna’s and Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccines work in the same way.

94.1% effective (90 positive in placebo group, 5 positive in vaccine group) 

90% effective (estimated 86 positive in placebo group, 9 positive in vaccine group)

US has secured 100million doses for $1.525billion (£1.16bn), suggesting it will cost $15.25 (£11.57) per dose; $30.50 (£23.14) per person.

US will pay $1.95bn (£1.48bn) for the first 100m doses, suggesting a cost of $19.50 (£14.80) per dose; $39 (£29.61) per person.

Moderna will produce 20m doses this year, expected to stay in the US. 

First vaccinations expected in December.

What side effects does it cause? 

Moderna said the vaccine is ‘generally safe and well tolerated’. Most side effects were mild or moderate but included pain, fatigue and headache, which were ‘generally’ short-lived. 

Pfizer and BioNTech did not produce a breakdown of side effects but said the Data Monitoring Committee ‘has not reported any serious safety concerns’.

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