Vaccine Rolls Out Slowly as Virus Surges

Weather: Mostly cloudy, with a high in the low 40s.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until Wednesday (Three Kings Day).

The dreaded year 2020 is gone. Vaccinations around the state signal that an end to the pandemic is in sight. But a new crop of problems is emerging.

A more contagious variant of the virus has been found in the United States, a statewide surge in infections is continuing and the pace of vaccinations is falling far short of original goals.

[A quicker vaccine rollout is needed, public health experts warn.]

The vaccination effort has not so far had the feel of urgency that many people expected. The number of vaccinations plummets on weekends and all but stopped for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Dr. Ronald Scott Braithwaite, a professor at N.Y.U. Grossman School of Medicine and an adviser to the city, said that once 10 to 20 percent of the city was vaccinated, the number of new cases would begin to drop if people continued to embrace other precautions like mask wearing.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said last week that the city planned to vaccinate one million people by the end of January. But in the first 17 days of the rollout, just more than 88,000 people had received the first of two doses, the equivalent of about 1 percent of the city’s population.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Sunday that 7,963 people were hospitalized, up 149 from the day before and more than double the number at the beginning of December. The statewide rate of positive test results was 7.98 percent, compared with around 5 percent at the beginning of December.

In New York City, the seven-day average positivity rate was 9.08 percent, Mr. de Blasio said on Sunday. The rate was about 5.5 percent at the beginning of December. Hospitalizations have also been on the rise, with the seven-day average at 224 a day at the end of December, compared with 151 at the beginning of the month.

Mr. Cuomo said that he worried about whether the vaccine would be distributed equitably. He said he would not get vaccinated until shots were available to Black, Latino and poor New Yorkers in his age group.

Some doctors have said that hospital affiliation, not risk, has become decisive in determining which health care workers get the vaccine. Poor neighborhoods have less access to some of the pharmacy chains that will be administering many of the doses.

“If we just do the vaccine the way they’re talking about doing the vaccine, frankly, richer people, white people, they’ll find the vaccine,” Mr. Cuomo said on MSNBC on Sunday. “It’s going to be the poor communities that are left behind.”

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Michelle Janezic of Queens wrote: My 98-year-old grandma, Sophie Janezic, survived Covid after catching it in the spring. She lives in a nursing home in the Rockaways, and through much of the pandemic we could only see her through a window. In October we were finally allowed to sit inside with her and hold her hand. Her memory is fading, but she was present there. It warms my heart that during such a confusing and challenging time, we shared this needed moment of comfort together.

Joanna Templeton of Northport, on Long Island, said: When Brooklyn restaurants closed during the worst moments of the New York City lockdown, my son, Paul Templeton, and his girlfriend, Olivia Marcus, opened their Bed-Stuy brownstone kitchen window and served homemade pizza to friends. The city was out of yeast, so they learned to make sourdough to leaven the dough. This picture from May gives me a rush of joy. The darkness of the interior of their tiny apartment, where they have been quarantined, is broken by the open window and the smiles. The hand sanitizer served alongside the pizza is a perfect summary of New York during the pandemic — joy survives.

Find more images here.

It’s Monday — happy 2021!

Dear Diary:

It was a clear August night. Clutching stuffed shopping bags from Zabar’s, we made our way down the aisles at Damrosch Park searching for the perfect spot. It was about an hour before the Paul Taylor Dance Company was to perform at Lincoln Center Out of Doors.

The seats were not yet full, so we were somewhat surprised when an older woman with a beaming smile sat down next to me. She was wearing a brightly flowered dress and floppy hat adorned with red silk geraniums.

We smiled. She smiled. As we started to unpack our treats, we offered to share with her. She accepted graciously, and we began to chat.

About 15 minutes before the program was to start, she said, “I can tell you are a couple who likes poetry, so please have this.”

She handed us a self-published volume that was autographed and featured a photo of her on the back. We thanked her.

She stood up quickly, nodded and disappeared into the crowd.

— Peggy Epstein

New York Today is published weekdays around 6 a.m. Sign up here to get it by email. You can also find it at

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