COVID-19 News and Long Island Resources: May 17-21

Rachel Hollander | May 18, 2021

New Jersey Governor Murphy holds a press conference on Friday, May 14, 2021.

WLIW21 and PBS offer regular, in-depth reporting on the coronavirus pandemic. In place of the public’s frustration at the hurdles to book a vaccine appointment, now tri-state area governments are grappling with how to convince the unvaccinated to get a readily available vaccine. At the same time, officials differ in how to respond to the new relaxed masking and social distancing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC).

Our news and public affairs programs will continue to cover COVID-19 cases and vaccinations, as well as repercussions on employment, social services, the economy and politics. Here is the most recent information from infectious disease doctors and medical professionals, government officials, and journalists who cover news about COVID-19 and its impacts. This page will be updated as reporting continues.

Recent COVID News and Numbers

Click for National, State, and City Hotlines and Resources

On May 17, New York State adopted the CDC recommendations made on May 13, that fully vaccinated people do not have to wear masks or social distance for most indoor and outdoor activities; masking on public transportation is still required. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said he would not follow all elements of the CDC guidance, saying it is too soon to lift the mask requirement in indoor public spaces.

See COVID-19 vaccine questions and direct links to official New York, New Jersey and Connecticut sites with the most up-to-date vaccine information.

Pop-up vaccination sites at MTA stations, now including Hicksville and Sutphin Boulevard–Archer Avenue–JFK Airport, will continue to administer the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine for up to 300 walk-ins per day on a first-come, first-served basis, through May 22. Incentives to be vaccinated include a free seven-day MetroCard or free round-trip Long Island Rail Road or Metro-North ticket.  See hours and locations on the MTA site.

Effective May 19, restrictions on most business capacities will be removed in New York and New Jersey. Businesses will only be limited by the space available for patrons or parties of patrons to maintain the required social distance of 6 feet. This will also apply in houses of worship.

PBS NewsHour Reports

PBS NewsHour is on weeknights at 6 p.m. and weekends at 6:30 p.m. on broadcast and livestream. Listen to half-hour broadcasts on 88.3 WLIW-FM weeknights at 6 p.m.

May 21: 4 Ways the US Can Help Stem COVID Deaths Globally

While the pandemic’s toll is easing in the U.S., COVID-19 still has a deadly grip on many other countries. The estimated global death toll remains around 13,000 people a day, and the World Health Organization’s new estimates are far higher. William Brangham discusses them with Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious diseases and global medicine specialist at the University of California, San Francisco.

May 19: Why ‘Vaccine Passports’ May Be Critical for Equity

Despite good progress on vaccinations in the U.S., the Biden administration and most officials are weary of requiring “vaccine passports” to prove inoculation. William Brangham discusses the related concerns with Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, and Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University Law Center.

May 17: An Emergency Room Physician on the Relaxed COVID Guidelines

Ever since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask recommendations substantially for fully vaccinated adults, there’s been a wide range of reaction — including some outright confusion, anxiety and criticism — over how this will play out. William Brangham reports on those concerns and brings some perspective from emergency room physician Dr. Megan Ranney.

May 14: Is the CDC Guidance Easing Mask Requirements Premature?

In many states, fully vaccinated Americans can now resume most activities without wearing a mask. The new guidance announced Thursday by the CDC was met with jubilation in many quarters. But there are also concerns the changes for indoor masking are happening too quickly. Lisa Desjardins follows up on those concerns with Dr. Ranit Mishori, a professor of family medicine at Georgetown University.

Amanpour and Company

Amanpour and Company

Left to right: Walter Isaacson, Michel Martin, Christiane Amanpour, Hari Sreenivasan

Amanpour and Company is on Monday – Saturday at 12 a.m.; repeats at 5 a.m. and 3 p.m. Watch broadcast or livestream.

May 21: Masks Worked, But Why Vaccinated People Don’t Need Them Now

Last week, the CDC stunned many people by announcing that fully vaccinated people could ditch their facemasks. It’s something that has left a lot of Americans feeling uneasy, but Dr. Monica Gandhi is on hand to reassure them that there’s no reason to panic. She explains all to Hari Sreenivasan.

May 17: Masks Are No Longer Required Indoors. Are We Ready?

The U.S. meantime moving forward on mask guidance, telling vaccinated Americans that they may refrain from wearing masks indoors. While many cheered the new guidance, others were puzzled by it. To discuss all this and other areas of COVID-19 concern, infectious disease specialist Dr. Céline Gounder joins the show.

MetroFocus Interviews

MetroFocus hosts Rafael Pi Roman, Jenna Flanagan and Jack Ford.

MetroFocus hosts Rafael Pi Roman, Jenna Flanagan and Jack Ford.

MetroFocus is on weeknights at 5, 7 and 11 p.m. on broadcast and livestream; listen weeknights on 88.3 WLIW-FM at 11 p.m..


NJ Spotlight News with Briana Vannozzi

NJ Spotlight News provides daily reporting on the coronavirus in New Jersey, as well as newsletters.

May 21: COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots: Will You Need One? 

Drugmakers are already developing COVID-19 booster shots, with clinical trials underway to develop safe and effective shots that could help strengthen people’s immunity and protect against new and possibly more deadly variants of the coronavirus. The shots could become available as soon as September.

May 19: Nation’s Largest Nurses Union Criticizes CDC Mask Guidance

National Nurses United says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new mask guidance used incomplete data and studies to make the decision.

May 18: Are Schools Ready for a Full Time Return to the Classroom?

Right now, most schools are either fully in person or on a hybrid schedule. Just five public school districts remain all remote. But by the fall, that option will be gone. Gov. Phil Murphy is requiring all schools to provide full-day, in-person instruction, just like they did before the pandemic some 14 months ago.

May 17: NJ Residents Are Confused, to Mask or Not to Mask?

New guidance from the CDC that says masks can be removed by fully vaccinated people inside stores. But Gov. Murphy’s executive order, keeps that mask mandate in force at least, for now. Grocery and healthcare workers unions cheered the governor while Republicans rebuked Murphy for not following the CDC’s guidance.

May 17: Rutgers Reports First Case of Blood Clot from COVID-19

Rutgers University reports the first case of COVID-19 triggering a rare blood clot, and not from a vaccine, in one man’s arm.

Hotlines and Information

National: Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

On May 10, the FDA approved use of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 12 to 15, the youngest group to be approved for vaccination. The CDC’s Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) page includes links to national case reporting, symptom information, advisories by health condition and occupation, and more.

For those who are fully vaccinated, the CDC offers guidelines of behavior and safety precautions.

New York State

NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065
For all New York State updates and announcements from Governor Andrew Cuomo, see the state COVID site.

The Excelsior Pass is a free and voluntary mobile app platform for businesses and individuals that can be used to easily access secure proof of a recent negative COVID test or vaccination.

COVID-19 Testing

As of April 1, there will be 25 more low-cost, rapid testing locations for COVID-19, made possible by a public-private partnership in New York. Testing providers in the network must make rapid tests available for no more than $30, provide participants with their results within 30 minutes, offer a way for people to schedule in advance and report the results to the state. Find a test site and make an appointment.

Vaccine Distribution

The state documents its vaccination distribution through a vaccine tracker that includes first and second doses given.

Those 12 and older and who have residency in the United States are now eligible for the vaccine in New York.

See the state site for community vaccination site information and foreign language documents.

Nassau County

Text COVID19NC to 888777 to get updates on Coronavirus in Nassau County on your mobile device.

Nassau County Coronavirus Hotline: 516-227-9570

Nassau County COVID-19 information and resources. The site updates its data on cases, deaths, hospitalizations, number of ventilator patients and discharges daily at 5pm.

Nassau County maintains a map with number of cases by community.

Vaccine Appointments in Nassau

The Nassau County vaccine appointment website offers ways to schedule appointments for specific sites or distributors, including Nassau Coliseum. Go to:
Nassau County vaccine information.

Nassau County residents can also use the New York State site to find a vaccine appointment. Go to ‘Am I Eligible’ website or call the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline 1-833-697-4829.

Eligible veterans can call 516-572-6565 to schedule a vaccine appointment in Nassau County.

Suffolk County

Text COVIDSUFFOLK to 67283 to get updates on Coronavirus in Suffolk County on your cell phone.

Call 1-888-364-3065 with questions about travel and symptoms.

Suffolk County COVID-19 information and resources, including daily reports of deaths, cases, and cases by county.

Vaccine Appointments in Suffolk

The Suffolk County vaccine appointment website offers ways to schedule appointments for specific sites or distributors. Go to:

Suffolk County residents can also use the New York State site to find a vaccine appointment. Go to ‘Am I Eligible’ website or call the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline 1-833-697-4829.

Remote Learning Resources from WNET Education

WLIW21 is the home of a weekday broadcast block starting at 8 a.m. Grades 3K-Grade 2 are served by Let’s Learn!, followed by a NJTV Learning Live lesson for 3rd graders at 10 a.m., 4th graders at 11 a.m., and 5th graders at 12 p.m.

Broadcast schedules on WLIW21, WLIW World and PBS Kids were developed to help schools and districts bridge the digital divide and provide equitable access to learning for all students at home, regardless of access to the internet or computers.

Help keep students learning at home with tools for parents and educators on WNET’s Education site. All resources are free and standards-aligned.