What to Know
- NYC launched an in-school vaccine pilot at four schools in the Bronx Friday in a bid to reach kids age 12 to 17; if effective, Mayor Bill de Blasio says he will roll it out to other boroughs in the coming weeks
- While kids may not experience as severe outcomes from COVID-19 as their older and more vulnerable cohorts, new CDC data shows an alarming trend in adolescent hospitalizations
- Overall, NY and NJ are notching some of their lowest core COVID numbers since the start of the pandemic; Gov. Phil Murphy officially lifted his state's public health emergency order on Friday
One week after New Jersey ditched indoor mask mandates for fully vaccinated people, joining its tri-state neighbors in the making its most significant recovery step yet, the Garden State has officially ended its COVID public health emergency.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation Friday to officially end New Jersey's longstanding COVID-19 emergency order -- a powerful, yet mostly symbolic sign as the pandemic fades. It means all but 14 executive orders tied to that longstanding emergency will expire 30 days from Friday. Many have been lifted already, and Murphy can modify or rescind the 14 that will stay in effect at any time.
Those 14 orders apply to residential evictions, hospital and long-term care facility reporting of COVID data, healthcare licensing, insurance, indoor mask rules for people who aren't fully vaccinated, summer camp COVID protocol and certain financial assistance programs, among other executive measures.
Any administrative orders around vaccinations and COVID testing that relied on the public health emergency are extended until January 11, 2022, as well.
"Today’s lifting of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency is a clear and decisive step on the path toward normalcy," Murphy said in a statement Friday. "The past 15 months have been a challenge, and I thank every New Jerseyan who stayed home, masked up, took precautions to keep this virus in check, and got vaccinated for allowing us to get to this point."
Another sign of progress Friday: New Jersey orders limiting social indoor gatherings that were once limited to 50 people are lifted, while the 30% limit on large indoor venues with seating capacities of 1,000 or greater is also gone. That means catering and banquet halls that host parties like weddings or sweet 16s can host events at full capacity once again — assuming they can find the workers for it.
"Things are getting back to normal, we know we need it. There's an unburdening across the state, and it feels good" said Murphy.
While the emergency order is ending, the pandemic is still far from over and the "old" normalcy still seems like a never-again attainable concept for many. Murphy acknowledges that, but he and officials in New York are continuing to push vaccinations as their get-out-of-pandemic golden ticket for the public.
According to the Mayo Clinic, New Jersey ranks seventh among all U.S. states in terms of percentage of total population fully vaccinated (49%), while Connecticut, which notched its first zero COVID death day Thursday in months, comes in at No. 4 (53.6%). New York fell to No. 14 on that metric (46.8%) but that percentage rose to 57.9% when limited to just Empire State adults age 18 and older.
In New York City, 55.5% of the adult population is fully vaccinated, the latest state data show. Vaccination rates have stalled at the local, state and national levels over the last six weeks, though, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he believes the older New Yorkers who wanted to get vaccinated have already done so.
He and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have aimed outreach at those more hesitant to get dosed, but lately, they've refocused their campaigns to target people who just may be less inclined: Kids.
While kids may not experience as severe outcomes from COVID-19 as their older and more vulnerable cohorts, new CDC data shows an alarming trend in adolescent hospitalizations: They increased in March and April after initially decreasing earlier in the year -- a fact that the head of the CDC says has her "deeply concerned."
"I am deeply concerned by the numbers of hospitalized adolescents and saddened to see the number of adolescents who required treatment in intensive care units or mechanical ventilation," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement Friday.
"Much of this suffering can be prevented," Walensky added. "Until they are fully vaccinated, adolescents should continue to wear masks and take precautions when around other who are not vaccinated to protect themselves, and their family, friends, and community."
In that same vein, Mayor de Blasio kicked off the city's first in-school vaccination pilot on Friday, bringing mobile vaccine trucks to four schools in hard-hit neighborhoods of the Bronx in a bid to more effectively reach kids age 12 to 17.
Should that pilot prove successful, the mayor says he will roll it out to other boroughs in the coming weeks to try to take advantage of the flood of eligible kids in a single place before school lets out for summer. Parental consent is required.
The following vaccine sites will open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through the weekend, the mayor's office said:
- Bronx Writing Academy: 270 E. 167th St.
- JHS Jordan L. Mott: 270 E. 167th St.
- JHS 118 William W. Niles: 577 East 179th St.
- MS 180 Dr. Daniel Hale Williams: 750 Baychester Ave.
Nearly 120,000 New York City kids age 12 to 17 have gotten at least one dose so far, de Blasio said, which is about 23% of the city's population in that age range and surpasses the national average (22%) for the same group.
To keep the ball rolling, he added free New York Aquarium tickets to the incentive pool for eligible-age kids earlier this week. In the coming weeks, the city will debut youth vaccination block parties to better reach kids, their parents and their pediatricians.
Cuomo has also zeroed in on that age group at the state level. Earlier this week, he announced the first 10 winners of his new full scholarship incentive program.
Any kids age 12 to 17 who have already gotten a dose or get one by July 7 are eligible to enter their names into the rolling pool. Forty more free college educations at any CUNY or SUNY university -- valued at $100,000 each, Cuomo says -- are still on the table.
They'll be raffled off each Wednesday for the next four weeks. Here's how to sign up to be notified when each drawing begins.
Not sure how the process works? Check out our handy tri-state vaccine site finder and FAQs here
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
Both Cuomo and de Blasio say they will continue to roll out vaccine prizes over the next few weeks to reward New Yorkers who get dosed. The state and city are being rewarded, too. The one-time epicenter of the pandemic has seen its new COVID cases and hospitalization rate plunge by 95% and 86%, respectively, since January.
New York state now boasts a lowest-in-nation 0.56% rolling positivity rate, one that is in the midst of a 60-day stretch of decline. It has marked a national low the last three days. Hospitalizations are just above 900 and at their lowest total since the middle of October, while daily death tolls are consistently in the low double digits.
While mercifully lower than it has been for months, the ongoing daily fatality count is a grim reminder that COVID is still taking lives, Cuomo says.
New York has confirmed nearly 43,000 COVID deaths to date, but thousands upon thousands more fatalities are likely attributable to it, multiple reports and experts say.
Tracking Coronavirus in Tri-State
Nationally, the U.S. COVID death toll topped 600,000 on Thursday. It took 102 days since the last grim threshold of 500,000 in February, which is a marked improvement considering the nation saw 200,000 deaths between December and February alone.
Those losses can never be recovered, nor can so much of the pandemic's economic and social devastation. Officials are instead trying to build back better and stronger than before -- and encouraging Americans to do their part by getting vaccinated.
Fifty-two percent of the U.S. adult population is fully vaccinated to date, CDC data shows. Sixty-three percent have gotten at least one dose.
President Joe Biden has declared June a national "Month of Action" on the vaccination rate as he aims to hit his goal of administering at least one dose to 70% of Americans by the July 4 holiday.