Boosted by the influx of coronavirus vaccine, New York City added the Javits Center to its 24/7 vaccination arsenal and propelling the city that much closer toward Mayor Bill de Blasio's goal of inoculating 5 million New Yorkers by June.
This week's first shipment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has allowed city health officials to expand appointments at the Javits Center, the city's second 24/7 site after Yankees Stadium. The single-shot doses will be reserved for overnight appointments at the vaccine site.
Patrick Dowden was among the first in New York City to receive the Johnson & Johnson shot in the arm. Unlike many before him, Dowden won't have to return to his vaccination site for a second time.
"I'm excited that I don't have to come back a second time and what I hear from Dr. Fauci and everyone, it works just as well," Dowden said before heading into the Javits Center Friday night for his vaccine shot. He's not the only one; de Blasio said this week he'd be getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The mayor was up in Co-op City on Saturday where health leaders were overseeing one of the city's newest vaccination sites. The New York City Department of Health was able to open this week in the Bronx community thanks to the influx of Johnson & Johnson supply, officials say. The Co-op City site is expected to have 500 doses available per day before growing to 1,000 doses.
A new program aimed at inoculating the city's homebound was also kicked off in Co-op City this week. On Saturday, the mayor said at least 50 homebound seniors had received their shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. The program is scheduled to reach people in Brighton Beach next before expanding even further to additional neighborhoods, dependent on supply.
"The fire department is actually providing the medical personnel who are going out, and this is literally, you have to go apartment by apartment, home by home and do this one-on-one," the mayor explained during his weekly WNYC segment. "So, it is - it takes time, it's labor intensive. But now that we're starting to get the Johnson & Johnson doses, we're going to be able to do it."
New York City says it has the capacity to dose a half-million people a week and while supply hampered efforts early, the rollout has accelerated dramatically even in just the last two weeks. As of Saturday, the city had administered more than 2.2 million total doses. That includes at least one first dose to 1.5 million people, about 14.4 percent of the city's population. More than 7 percent of the five boroughs' population has now been fully vaccinated, state data shows.
Statewide, about 17.6 percent of the population has had at least one dose (more than 3.5 million people), while nearly 9 percent of New Yorkers have completed their vaccination series. With 75 percent considered the low vaccination threshold for herd immunity, according to Cuomo, New York still has a long way to go.
More than 10 million New Yorkers are currently eligible for the vaccine, and that number could expand should de Blasio seize on Cuomo's looming loss of pandemic emergency powers and change distribution rules in the city.
New York City and New Jersey Vaccine Providers
Click on each provider to find more information on scheduling appointments for the COVID-19 Vaccine.
Data: City of New York, State of New Jersey • Nina Lin / NBC
Over in New Jersey, nearly 815,000 second doses have been administered, which would translate to full inoculation for about 9.1 percent of the state's population. Murphy was on hand to witness some of the state's first Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccinations Friday, which he described as a "huge day" in the fight.
The race to vaccinate through the Garden State's pharmacies also received a big boost from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Appointments have opened at 100 additional CVS locations, with the first shots expected to go into arms on Saturday.
FEMA's assistance expanded into Paterson on Friday through the opening of a new vaccine sites at the Calvary Baptist Church -- it's a pop-ip location with enough supplies for 1,500 people. Next week, a second pop-up site is set to open at St. John's Cathedral in the city.
Connecticut meanwhile is leading the tri-state, and most of the country, with its impressive vaccination record. So far, nearly a quarter of the state's population has already received at least one dose.
That's state success comes as Gov. Ned Lamont readies Connecticut for a lift of restrictions and return to 100 percent capacity in most businesses, including restaurants and gyms. The news that the state was lifting limits on March 19 took neighboring leaders by surprise.
"We don't want to lurch forward and then step back. We don't want to do that again. I can't speak for Connecticut," Murphy said this week. "If it wasn't for the variants I think we would be moving more."
New Jersey became the latest U.S. state Thursday to report a case (two of them) of the Brazilian coronavirus variant, which is considered to be of equal scientific "interest" to the more widely reported upon U.K. and South African strains but has been detected to a much lesser degree in America so far.
According to the CDC's latest variant report, the U.S. has detected only 13 cases of the Brazilian variant, known as P.1, in six other states aside from New Jersey: Maryland, Florida, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Oregon and Alaska. The only other states to have multiple cases like New Jersey are Minnesota (2) and Florida (5). The CDC updates its variant data only three times weekly, so federal reporting often lags individual state reporting on newly detected variant samples.
No details were immediately known as it relates to New Jersey's cases other than both were found in Hudson County. Gov. Phil Murphy and his health team did not deliver a public COVID briefing Friday as they have lately.
Ultimately, tri-state health officials seek to make clear two key points around the variants: First, not all variants are matters of public health concern. Most are just that -- variants. The city's health department is expected to put out a report soon analyzing whether a new strain that appears to have originated in Washington Heights last year is simply "different," de Blasio said Friday.
Second: Vaccines are expected to work on the variants that have emerged and those that will over time. A top New Jersey disease specialist recently demonstrated why that is the case using a "mittens" and "hands" analogy.
Some variants are described as being "of interest." Tracking-wise, the CDC is looking into three of those -- the Brazilian, U.K. and South African strains. New York has reported more than 150 U.K. variant cases to date, mainly in the city, while New Jersey and Connecticut have detected 134 and 42, respectively. Nationally, the CDC has confirmed nearly 2,700 U.K. variant cases in 48 states.
Both New York and Connecticut have reported cases of the South African variant, two on Long Island and one in Fairfield County, as of the latest reports. Those are among 17 states to have reported nearly 70 such cases to date, the CDC says.