Cuomo’s Office Covered Up Nursing Home Death Toll Last Summer


Cuomo aides kept nursing home death numbers quiet. A damning new report from The New York Times suggests Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office knew as early as last June how deadly the governor’s plans were proving for nursing home residents, but still concealed this information from the public.

Early in the pandemic, Cuomo had ordered that nursing homes could not reject patients from returning to those facilities after testing positive for COVID-19 and being hospitalized. He also barred the deaths of COVID-19 patients transferred from nursing homes to hospitals after catching the virus from being counted among nursing home COVID-19 deaths.


Publication Date: 5 March 2021

Publication Site: Reason

Detroit Mayor Is Wrong To Turn Down J&J COVID-19 Vaccines


The Detroit Free Press reports that the mayor declined to accept a shipment of 6,200 doses of the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine. Why? At a press conference on Tuesday, the mayor asserted, “Johnson & Johnson is a very good vaccine. Moderna and Pfizer are the best. And I am going to do everything I can to make sure the residents of the city of Detroit get the best.”

What does the mayor mean by “best”? Duggan stated, “The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are 95% effective if you get two shots. Johnson & Johnson is one shot, which is nicer, but it’s about 67% effective.”

Actually, in the United States arm of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) clinical trial, the vaccine’s ability to prevent moderate to severe infection was 72 percent and it is 85 percent effective at preventing severe disease.In addition, the J&J vaccine has been shown to be effective against the new, more contagious COVID-19 variants that are now spreading across the country. And it is likely that many citizens would prefer the convenience of getting a one-and-done J&J shot as opposed to waiting nearly a month to get a second Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech shot.

Author(s): Ronald Bailey

Publication Date: 5 March 2021

Publication Site: Reason

COVID-19: CDC Unveils Highly-Anticipated Guidelines For Those Who Are Fully Vaccinated



Those fully vaccinated can:

Visit indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without masks or physical distancing, if the unvaccinated people are at low risk for severe disease.

Visit others who are vaccinated indoors without masks or physical distancing

Skip testing and quarantine if exposed to someone who has COVID but is asymptomatic, but should monitor for symptoms for 14 days

Author(s): Joe Lombardi

Publication Date: 8 March 2021

Publication Site: Daily Voice

GOP says ‘no’ to state and local aid as Senate heads toward vote on COVID bill


Supporters of the bill — including numerous Republican mayors — say the answer is a clear “yes.” They argue that a number of states, particularly those that rely on service industries and tourism, have seen steep revenue declines, and local governments are facing deeper financial strains as they struggle to expand services with fewer employees.

“Many of our cities have furloughed workers, shrunk their workforce through attrition, cancelled police and fire recruitment efforts, and frozen capital budgets that build community infrastructure — all while absorbing additional expenses to respond to COVID, delivering essential services and reaching out to our communities that have been disproportionately affected,” a bipartisan group of Ohio mayors wrote to federal lawmakers last month.

But congressional Republicans, who also opposed including more state and local aid in the coronavirus stimulus bill approved in December, largely have been unpersuaded. They point to data showing some states outpacing their revenue projections, and argue that sending more financial help to states would unfairly reward those that locked down their economies instead of lifting restrictions on businesses.

Author(s): Laura Olson

Publication Date: 4 March 2021

Publication Site: NC Policy Watch

DiNapoli: State’s Fiscal Picture Has Improved, but Impact of Pandemic Revenue Losses Will Linger



New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today said there are some positive developments for the state’s fiscal recovery from the pandemic, including higher than expected personal income tax collections and the prospect of significant aid from the federal government, in his review of the Executive Budget for State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2021-22, as amended by the Governor. However, risks remain and could threaten the state’s fragile improvement.

DiNapoli urged the Governor and the Legislature to avoid short-sighted choices when adopting the new budget, to maintain transparency and include oversight measures. He recommended that actions be taken to address the state’s long-term structural imbalance and put the state’s finances on a sustainable path once emergency federal aid ends.

Author(s): Thomas DiNapoli

Publication Date: 2 March 2021

Publication Site: Office of the New York State Comptroller

CDC Launches New COVID Vaccine Finder Tool



With news that the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine has met U.S. Food and Drug Administration requirements, vaccination is once again front and center in many Americans’ minds.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a vaccine finder tool to help you locate vaccine distribution sites. The tool populates the name, address and phone number of pharmacies and stores within a one to 50-mile radius of your zip code.

At this time, users can search for the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and/or Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID vaccines and see whether specific locations are in or out of stock.


Publication Date: 26 February 2021

Publication Site: AAA

Senate passes $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill, including $1,400 stimulus checks, with no Republican support



The Senate passed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package Saturday, capping off a marathon overnight session after Democrats resolved internal clashes that threatened to derail President Joe Biden’s top legislative priority.

The far-reaching legislation includes $1,400 stimulus checks, $300-per-week jobless benefits through the summer, a child allowance of up to $3,600 for one year, $350 billion for state aid, $34 billion to expand Affordable Care Act subsidies and $14 billion for vaccine distribution.

The final vote was 50-49 along party lines, with every Republican voting “no.” It came after Democrats voted down a swath of Republican amendments on repeated votes of 50-49 to avoid disrupting the delicate agreement between progressive and moderate senators.

Author(s): Sahil Kapur

Publication Date: 6 March 2021

Publication Site: NBC News

Why reopening US schools is so complicated



The US can look to Europe for how this played out: European countries tried in-person learning last fall but began closing schools as B.1.1.7 swept through the continent. By December, countries including the Netherlands and Germany had shut down their schools in the face of rising case numbers. The CDC says it may need to update school reopening guidelines in light of new information about variants. 

This task is made more difficult because tracking the spread of variants in the US is tough right now. Compared with other countries, it has very few labs doing this work, and while more funding will help, Friedrich says there will still be a gap.

Author(s): Mia Sato

Publication Date: 5 March 2021

Publication Site: MIT Technology Review

Restaurants and other business can go back to full capacity on March 19 as Lamont rolls back COVID restrictions in CT



Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday that Connecticut will eliminate capacity limits on restaurants, houses of worship, retailers and most businesses on March 19 but will retain mandates for social distancing and masks as a precaution against a resurgence of COVID-19.

The rollback comes as about 60% of Connecticut residents 65 and older have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, helping to drive down hospitalizations, new infections and deaths to their lowest point in 2021, though still higher than last summer.

The governor’s announcement was expected. It comes after Texas, Mississippi and three other states took more aggressive steps to end mask mandates and business restrictions, a move denounced as premature by President Joe Biden.


Publication Date: 4 March 2021

Publication Site: CT Mirror

Coronavirus Deranges the Immune System in Complex and Deadly Ways


Scientists say the coronavirus could undermine the immune system in several ways.

For example, it’s possible that immune cells become confused because some viral proteins resemble proteins found on human cells, Luning Prak said. It’s also possible that the coronavirus lurks in the body at very low levels even after patients recover from their initial infection.

“We’re still at the very beginning stages of this,” said Luning Prak, director of Penn Medicine’s Human Immunology Core Facility.

Author(s): Liz Szabo

Publication Date: 4 March 2021

Publication Site: Kaiser Health News

What Do Vaccine Efficacy Numbers Actually Mean?




Efficacy depends on the details of a trial, such as where it took place. Johnson & Johnson ran trials at three sites: in the United States, Latin America and South Africa. The overall efficacy was lower than that in the United States alone. One reason for that appears to be that the South Africa trial took place after a new variant had swept across that country. Called B.1.351, the variant has mutations that enable it to evade some of the antibodies produced by vaccination. The variant didn’t make the vaccine useless, however. Far from it: In South Africa, Johnson & Johnson’s efficacy was 64 percent.

Efficacy can also change when scientists look at different outcomes. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine had an 85 percent efficacy rate against severe cases of Covid-19, for example. That’s important to know, because it means that the vaccine will prevent a lot of hospitalizations and deaths.

Author(s): Carl Zimmer, Keith Collins

Publication Date: 3 March 2021

Publication Site: New York Times