What to Know
- Mayor Bill de Blasio says NYC will run out of first doses by Friday; he said 22,000+ appointments for this week have had to be rescheduled for lack of supply. The state's supply is just days from exhaustion
- Positivity rates appear to have leveled off from the winter surge, but hospitalizations are still up; statewide, they are at their highest total since early May; new daily admissions in NYC are at late April highs
- Officials fear more contagious strains like the U.K. one will compound containment efforts; that variant has now been found in at least 60 countries while 23 have detected the South African strain
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is warning vaccine sites across New York not to schedule appointments more than a week out, calling the long-anticipated rollout -- the expected savior of the pandemic -- a "week-to-week" operation for lack of supply.
The governor says the state's reserve of first doses has dwindled to a meager two-to-three day supply, while the mayor of New York City says the five boroughs will have "zero" to give by Friday without a major federal infusion of doses.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city postponed more than 22,000 appointments this week alone because of the shortage in supply. According to the city's main vaccine page, all appointments scheduled at any of the 15 community COVID-19 vaccine hubs across the five boroughs for Thursday, Jan. 21, through Sunday, Jan. 24, are being rescheduled for one week from the original appointment.
Given Cuomo's comments, it's not clear if those will happen as rescheduled either. De Blasio indicated as much Thursday when he said city-run sites would no longer schedule additional first dose appointments until the supply is refreshed.
“We’re going to be at 50,000 a day and more very soon if we have the vaccine to go with it,” de Blasio said. “It’s just tremendously sad that we have so many people who want the vaccine and so much ability to give the vaccine, what’s happening? For lack of supply, we’re actually having to cancel appointments.”
All first responders in the city, including NYPD, FDNY and the hard-hit EMS workers, have had to suspend their first doses for the time being. The FDNY said they have enough doses to cover everyone from their department who has received a first dose to ensure everyone gets properly vaccinated. The fire department has vaccinated more than 7,100 of their 17,000 employees, while the NYPD has given dosages to 12,000 of their 54,000 members.
"It's frustrating and painful," de Blasio told NBC News, adding that it could take weeks — not days — to clear out the backlog in giving out dosages. "The vaccine supply in America should have increased every single week. And we found that we hit a wall quickly."
Second dose appointments have not been affected, officials said. The city does have vaccine centers apart from its "hubs," including state-run facilities like the one at the Javits Center and two 24/7 sites. Those remain open, as do an additional three sites run by the city’s public hospital system, with another 45,000 doses having been administered Wednesday, the mayor said. But all are running low on doses.
"We want those big sites to be up and running, and we want a lot of them to be 24/7," de Blasio said. "The demand is there. We have the staff, we have the sites, we just need the vaccine."
To date, the city has administered 90 percent of the 546,775 doses its state healthcare distribution sites have received, according to Cuomo's data. Total doses administered at city-run sites have topped a half-million, marking nearly 54 percent of the million-plus doses delivered to those sites.
More than 300,000 of those total doses are reserved for second shots; the city has administered 23 percent of those, which makes sense considering a person can't have a second shot without a first -- and supply has been prohibitive. Complicating matter further, the city said, was a shipment of 100,000 Moderna vaccines that never arrived.
A second dose also can't be given until three or four weeks after the first, so there is a built-in delay on top of the supply problems. Early trials show the first dose alone reduces one's risk of infection by around 50 percent, Jay Varma, the city's senior advisor for public health, said Thursday. Varma did note a caveat: trials were not intended to look only at one dose. It's not clear if that 50 percent protection indicated in some trials would extend across the whole population.
"Either way, we do know that first dose does provide some protection. A first dose is better than nothing," Varma said.
When Could I Get the Vaccine?
Answer the questions to calculate your risk profile and see where you fall in your county's and state's vaccine lineup. This estimate is based on a combination of vaccine rollout recommendations from the CDC and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
For a more detailed breakdown of who is included in each priority group, see this methodology.
Source: the Vaccine Allocation Planner for COVID-19 by Ariadne Labs and the Surgo Foundation
Interactive by Amy O’Kruk/NBC
Statewide, the number of first doses administered is nearing 1 million, having used 91 percent of overall dosages received. New York administered 96,000 shots in a 24-hour span Wednesday into Thursday and more than 200,000 doses last week alone, Gov. Cuomo said, adding that they have the capacity to do even more if more supply can be delivered from the federal government.
"We are racing to administer the vaccine as quickly as possible while doing everything we can to reduce the infection rate. We've made progress on both fronts since the post-holiday surge but there's a long way to go before we reach the light at the end of the tunnel," Cuomo said.
In New Jersey, nearly 456,000 total doses had been administered as of Thursday's report. The Garden State receives less than half the weekly allocation New York does, and some sites are seeing the difference: The major vaccination center in Ocean County has seen it's weekly allotment go from 5,000 down to less than 3,000.
On a national scale, New Jersey ranks just 29th in rate of vaccinations, using less than half the dosages it has been sent. Connecticut leads the tri-state, having used more than half; New York has used half its supply.
Nearly 10 million if not more people are eligible for shots between New York and New Jersey, with many more groups still waiting to learn when it will be their turn in line. High demand for vaccines coupled with sluggish distribution has heightened officials' fears that more contagious strains will complicate efforts to curb the spread.
Daily Percentage of Positive Tests by New York Region
Gov. Andrew Cuomo breaks the state into 10 regions for testing purposes and tracks positivity rates to identify potential hotspots. Here's the latest tracking data by region and for the five boroughs. For the latest county-level results statewide, click here
Coronavirus hospitalizations in New York state have soared above 9,000 after appearing to level off slightly below that for most of this month, while new daily admissions in the five boroughs continue to hover above the mayor's threshold. As of Thursday, the rolling hospitalization rate per 100,000 residents was 5.16, the highest number since de Blasio debuted the metric as part of his daily reports. In New Jersey, the number of COVID hospitalizations hit its lowest level in six weeks, sparking some signs of hope.
Thus far, hospitals in both New York and New Jersey have been able to manage the influx of patients. The governors of both states say if that ability becomes in doubt, new economic restrictions will be imposed. They won't risk overwhelming the healthcare system.
There is good news: Rolling positivity rates are declining pretty much across the board in both states, an indication the post-holiday surge may have passed its peak. Hospitalizations lag increases in cases; deaths lag increases in admissions. That's why both those metrics keep rising after the initial case spike sloughs off..
The hope, officials say, is to manage these latest increases, along with the threat of more contagious viral strains, long enough to keep pace with the vaccination rollout, which has encountered problems from the start at state and federal levels.
Mindful of the future threat of new strains and new viruses, de Blasio announced a $38 million investment in new biotech centers for the city on Thursday. The goal is to help guide the city out of this pandemic and begin its recovery as well as prepare for the next one.
"The recovery's going to come with a lot of energy, a lot of activity, a lot of new jobs, a lot of jobs coming back, a lot of things we need," the mayor said Thursday. "But it's not just an effort to reestablish the status quo that existed before the pandemic. That is not our mission. Our mission is to create something different and better. Our mission is to address inequality more deeply and create more opportunity for all. This is a crucial element of the right kind of recovery."
To that end, he announced the New York City Acquisition Fund would now exclusively serve minority and women-owned businesses and nonprofits going forward. That makes them majority stakeholders from the start and better equipped to ensure their communities benefit from ongoing recovery programs. It's a $210 million fund. And the city thinks it can be a true game-changer.
Tracking Coronavirus in Tri-State
Despite the latest threats -- from vaccine supply woes to more contagious viral strains and the holiday surge that finally appears to be plateauing -- the national picture is starting to look brighter, too, with the arrival of a new president, officials say. Cuomo appeared hopeful in the ongoing fight against the virus that has killed more than 400,000 Americans since the first U.S. case was confirmed a year ago.
"It's like day one because we start with a new president," the governor said as he congratulated President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Inauguration Day. Cuomo had been pleading with, if not demanding, the federal government to supply more vaccine doses for New Yorkers as well as a windfall in federal aid amid the state's dramatic loss in sales and income tax revenue.
Part of Biden's plan involves using the Defense Production Act to make and distribute more vaccine, as well as providing state and local governments $350 billion in emergency funding to help front-line workers. Cuomo wants to ensure New York gets its "fair share," which he says hasn't been the case even before the pandemic.
"We have to make sure in that process that New York is represented, but he put the plan on the table that he said he would. So, all good news and a new day, and a new sense of hope, and a new tone and a new spirit. A more loving, more healing and uniting presence in Washington," Cuomo said.
According to his budget director, New York is nearing $7 to $8 billion in spending on the state's COVID-19 response — including the cost of its vaccination program.
New York City Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis said many of her Republican colleagues prefer alternatives to big spending.
"The best stimulus package is reopening the economy," Malliotakis said.
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
Nationally, 46 percent of the nearly 38 million doses distributed have been administered, according to CDC data. Just under 2.4 million people have received their second doses, while about 14.2 million have received one or more doses. Former President Donald Trump had vowed to inoculate 20 million in December.
With the unprecedented national rollout still in its relative infancy, the already staggering U.S. coronavirus death toll continues to rise. Fatalities are climbing in nearly two-thirds of U.S. states. Wednesday marked the deadliest day of the pandemic so far for the nation, with 4,131 virus deaths, by NBC News data.
The national death toll topped 400,000 earlier this week and experts fear it could reach a jarring half-million at some point next month.