N.Y. Today: Covid Variants On the Rise

What you need to know for Wednesday.

Covid-19 in New York: Variants and Johnson & Johnson

By Amanda Rosa

Fellow, Metro

It's Wednesday.

Weather: The temperature will soar to around 70 today under mostly sunny skies before falling to the low 50s tonight. Expect some showers tonight, too.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until April 29 (Holy Thursday, Orthodox).

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Bryan Anselm for The New York Times

Though the vaccination effort is well underway in New York City, new coronavirus cases remain stubbornly high. The likely culprit: variants.

More contagious variants of the virus account for more than 75 percent of new cases, according to a recent analysis. Newly available ZIP code-level data provides some answers on where the variants appear to be most prevalent.

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This data comes as New York State paused its use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Tuesday after six cases of a rare disorder involving blood clots were reported in the United States.

Here's what you need to know:

What variants are spreading?

The most widespread variant in the city is B.1.526, which was first discovered in New York. In the fourth week of March, it accounted for about 45 percent of cases that the Health Department sequenced. (Sequencing involves examining the genetic material of the virus for mutations.) B.1.1.7, a variant that was first found in the United Kingdom, makes up nearly 30 percent of new sequenced cases.

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Scientists don't know which of the two variants is more contagious, but B.1.1.7 is estimated to be 60 percent more contagious and two-thirds more deadly than the original form of the virus.

Despite the variants, hospitalizations are on a slight decline in the city.

Where are the variants spreading?

B.1.526 appears to have a stronghold on much of New York City. It made up more than 50 percent of all the cases sequenced between March 16 and April 1 in Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn. In the Bronx, it was 61 percent.

In Staten Island, B.1.1.7. made up 40 percent of new cases.

Why was the Johnson & Johnson vaccine suspended in New York?

Federal health agencies recommended that use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine be suspended after six women developed blood clots. Several states, including New York, quickly paused use of the one-dose vaccine while health experts investigate.

None of the roughly 234,000 city residents who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have reported blood clots, said Dr. Dave Chokshi, the city's health commissioner.

How will this affect appointments?

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the state had enough supply of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to keep up the state's vaccination pace. State-run mass vaccination sites will honor appointments originally for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by providing the Pfizer vaccine instead.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city would work with vaccination sites to help people get appointments for Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

From The Times

How are you dividing housework during the pandemic? The Modern Love Podcast is returning for a new season, and they want to hear about the creative (or fraught) ways you're handling the division of labor at home. Do you flip a coin? Reverse traditional gender roles? Leave passive-aggressive notes? Send in a submission, and you might make it onto a future episode.

The Mini Crossword: Here is today's puzzle.

What we're reading

A Brooklyn artist sued the chef Nusret Gökçe, also known as Salt Bae, for $5 million after using his artwork without permission. [Eater NY]

A Metropolitan Transportation Authority employee claimed he was suspended without pay and forced into rehab for using medically prescribed marijuana. [Gothamist]

Wesleyan University became the first university in Connecticut to require students to be vaccinated against Covid-19. [Hartford Courant]

This newsletter is free, and highlights a small portion of New York Times journalism. To access all of it, consider becoming a subscriber with this special offer.

And finally: Lincoln Center goes green

The Times's Matt Stevens writes:

Lincoln Center, which is holding a series of performances outdoors while its theaters remain closed by the pandemic, announced Tuesday that it would transform the plaza around its fountain into a parklike environment by blanketing it with a synthetic lawn.

With the center using its outdoor spaces as stages this spring and summer, it turned to a set designer, Mimi Lien, to reimagine its campus. She hopes the grassy-looking oasis will invite New Yorkers in for performances and relaxation.

"I wanted to make a place where you could lie on a grassy slope and read a book all afternoon," Lien, the recipient of a MacArthur genius grant, said in a statement. "Get a coffee and sit in the sun. Bring your babies and frolic in the grass. Have a picnic lunch with co-workers."

The installation, which will open on May 10 and remain in place through September, will be the physical centerpiece of Restart Stages, an initiative Lincoln Center announced in February to use its outdoor spaces for live performances. It will also feature a small snack bar, and have books available for borrowing.

The space will be open from 9 a.m. to midnight; face coverings, social distancing and other health and safety protocols will be required.

It's Wednesday — Get some fresh air.

Metropolitan Diary: Here comes help

Dear Diary:

My daughter had recently graduated from college and was about to start her first job in Manhattan. She and three friends had rented an apartment on the Upper East Side and were moving in on a steamy September afternoon.

After buying an inexpensive dresser at the City Opera Thrift Shop, we arrived back on East 81st Street only to realize there was no way we were going to be able to carry the rather large, and heavy, piece of furniture up to the third floor.

We had the dresser halfway in and halfway out of the back of the car when a young man rode by on a bike.

"Looks like you could use some help." he said, stopping and locking his bike to a post without waiting for a reply.

He lifted the end of the dresser that was sticking out of the car and began to push. Then he saw the expression on my face.

"It's going in the car, right?" he said.

— Lauren Kaduc

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