New York City plans to use faith and community leaders to help convince skeptics to take the coronavirus vaccine.

City officials say the way to address the trust gap in minority communities is to give folks vaccine information from people they trust.

Reverend Phil Craig is asking health officials to create a coronavirus vaccination fact sheet for faith leaders. “What is the side effects that may occur for those that may have had it. The Muslim and Hindu communities, they may want to know are there any animal products in the vaccine," he said.

Essex County Sets Up Five Sites for Covid Vaccinations

Dec 18, 2020
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Essex County is ready to go with Covid vaccinations. Five sites are set up and waiting for vaccine delivery.

Freeholder President Brendan Gill says there’s a system to insure the process goes smoothly. “There’s a set amount of towns that are assigned to each of those sites,” he said. “Newark, if you are a resident of Newark you can use any of the five since Newark is our largest, obviously, city.”

On this month's broadcast host Michael Hill is joned Mayor Ras Baraka and Dir. of Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Wade along with President and CEO of Newark's University Hospital Dr. Shereef Elnehal to talk about all the latest around COVID-19 response in New Jersey’s largest city and the largest vaccination effort in U.S. history. 

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New Jersey on Tuesday administered its first Covid vaccine, at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, next to University Hospital in Newark.

It went to 56-year old Maritza Beniquez, a nurse at the hospital. “I didn’t feel it, there’s no pain, I feel great,” she said. “I’m excited, I’m happy that in another two months, month and a half, I won’t have to be afraid to go into a room (with a Covid patient) anymore.”

After Beniquez got her shot -- on her birthday -- three doctors and a medical assistant were vaccinated, including Dr. Robert Johnson, dean of the medical school.

New Jersey reported another 4,805 cases of coronavirus Monday, for a cumulative total of 405,448 known cases since the start of the outbreak.

Another 25 residents died from complications of COVID-19. There have now been 15,907 lab-confirmed deaths and another 1,868 probable deaths.

There was a 10.95% positivity rate for tests taken on Dec. 10.

Health care workers to receive first doses of vaccine

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Mayor de Blasio applauded the first coronavirus vaccination in New York City but at the same time warned of new restrictions.

De Blasio said he felt a sense of hope as he watched a hospital worker take the vaccine. "We will turn the tide on the coronavirus. This is a day to celebrate,” said the mayor.

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A hospital worker in Queens was among the first in the nation to get the coronavirus vaccine.

Folks applauded as Sandra Lindsay got her shot in the arm Monday morning. She’s a critical care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens.

“I hope this marks the end to a very painful time in our history,” said Lindsay.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says some 170,000 doses of the first Pfizer shipment are on their way to high-risk health care workers and nursing homes. “We have trains, planes and automobiles moving this all over the state right now,” said Cuomo.


New Jersey officials reported on Wednesday an additional 4,665 confirmed COVID-19 cases, raising the cumulative total to 381,486 since the first case was reported on March 4. An additional 91 deaths were also reported, bringing the toll from the virus to 15,674 since the first death from it was reported March 10.

The state hospital association reported 3,533 hospitalizations as of Tuesday night; 630 patients are in intensive care, and 412 are on ventilators.

Newark Penn Set For $190 Million in Renovations

Dec 8, 2020
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Newark Penn Station is getting a makeover. Governor Phil Murphy on Tuesday announced a $190 million program of renovations and upgrades -- without delay.

“I’m proud to announce that work is going to begin immediately on $30 million in renovations and restorations to Newark Penn station paid for through state funds,” he said, standing in front of the main entrance to the station on a cold December morning.

Even tighter coronavirus restrictions could be right around the corner in New York City.  

Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked at what point he thinks the city should shut nonessential businesses and indoor dining.  De Blasio responded saying he’s been having those discussions with the governor.

“These indicators are troubling.  The situation is getting more serious.  Look, if these indicators don’t level off soon, I think all options are on the table.”

New Jersey reported another 3,573 cases of coronavirus Monday, bringing the state’s cumulative total to 371,579 lab-confirmed infections since the start of the outbreak.

Another 17 residents died from the virus. There have now been 15,550 lab-confirmed coronavirus fatalities and another 1,836 probable deaths.

There are 3,110 coronavirus-positive patients in New Jersey hospitals, including 637 in critical care and 391 on ventilators.

The state had an 11.4% positivity rate for COVID-19 tests administered on Dec. 3.

As COVID Spikes, NJ Steps Up to Protect All Workers

Dec 5, 2020

Vaccines in the wings but basic public health measures need to endure.

Reporter Bob Hennelly speaks with News Director Doug Doyle

NYC Health and Hospitals



New York City is creating a Pandemic Response Institute to help be better prepared for the next pandemic. 

The institute will be comprised of hospital systems, medical universities and tech sectors. Dr. Jay Varma is a senior City health advisor.

“This will position the city as a leader in pandemic response and strengthen our infrastructure for future outbreaks.”

Varma says it will focus on developing safer PPE, faster vaccines and forecasting future pandemics among other health related research.

Several New Jersey hospitals are preparing to receive the first shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Friday.

The state could see 76,000 doses of the vaccine next week — the first of three shipments. By the end of the month, hospitals could receive 300,000 and 500,000 total doses.

Jonathan Chimene / WBGO

The pandemic has claimed its first major New York City jazz club. Jazz Standard, which opened in 1997, has shut its doors.

The most recent edition of Ask Governor Murphy on WBGO covered a variety of topics and host Nancy Solomon and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy took a barrage of phone calls and social media questions.

Ask Governor Murphy is a WBGO News production in collaboration with WNYC and WHYY.

Click above to hear the entire show.

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Newark’s stay-at-home advisory is in effect through Dec. 4 as the city battles a positivity rate that a few weeks ago hit 41% in the Ironbound district.

Dr. Shereef Elnahal, chief executive officer of Newark’s University Hospital, said the time it is taking for the number of cases at the hospital to double is falling, which is a worrisome sign.


New York City is broadly laying out its coronavirus vaccination distribution plan with the first doses expected to come the middle of this month pending approval. 

Once a vaccine starts arriving, Health Commissioner Dr. David Chokshi thinks it will only be a few weeks before the city can cover all high risk health care workers. The city will use health care providers and pharmacies and will set up vaccine sites in schools.

“These sites would serve essential workers initially but could be expanded to serve members of the general public.”

New Jersey reported 4,350 new cases of coronavirus Wednesday, for a cumulative total of 346,206 infections since the start of the pandemic.

Another 56 residents died from complications of COVID-19. The state has now seen 15,309 lab-confirmed fatalities and another 1,836 probable deaths.

There was a 13.68% positivity rate for PCR (nasal swab) tests taken on Saturday.

Some 3,287 coronavirus patients were in New Jersey hospitals, with 599 requiring critical care and 354 on ventilators.

State updates travel advisory


Tonight's edition of Ask Governor Murphy airs at 7pm on WBGO and

Ask Governor Murphy is a WBGO News production in collaboration with WNYC and WHYY.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and host Nancy Solomon of WNYC will be taking our phone calls and social media questions this evening on a range of topics including COVID-19 restrictions, schools, NJ Transit and unemployment.

The number to call is 844-677-9283, or on social media with #askgovmurphy. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo says New York State should receive 170 thousand coronavirus vaccine doses by mid December, pending FDA approval.

State officials believe the first couple batches of the coronavirus vaccine will be able to cover all the nursing home patients and its staff members. Governor Cuomo says next will be healthcare workers.

“600 thousand healthcare workers. You have to prioritize the healthcare workers.  And it’s going to start with emergency room, ICU, people working with COVID people."

New Jersey recorded another 3,199 cases of coronavirus Monday, bringing the state’s cumulative total since the start of the pandemic to 337,304 infections.

Another 15 residents died from complications of COVID-19. The state has now seen 15,164 lab-confirmed fatalities and another 1,829 probable deaths.

There was an 11.3% positivity rate for coronavirus tests taken on on Thanksgiving. New Jersey hospitals have 2,961 coronavirus patients, including 575 in critical care and 332 on ventilators.

 With coronavirus surging, New York City health officials want folks at higher risk to limit time outside the home.  

Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi is issuing an advisory to the elderly and those with underlying health conditions that warns about the COVID uptick and urges precautions that should be taken.

“That means stopping non essential activities, staying in as much as possible and avoiding social activities outside of your household.”

Hunger Remains a Big Problem on this Thanksgiving

Nov 26, 2020
New York City Coalition Against Hunger

At a time when many Americans are enjoying Thanksgiving, hunger is an even big problem in New York City because of coronavirus.

Head of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger Joel Berg says there was a food crisis before the pandemic and now he says it’s even worse.

“Our survey found a third of families in New York City were rationing food to their kids, giving their kids less food because they don’t have enough resources. Neither the charities nor the government programs have nearly enough funding to meet the massive need today.”

It was inspired by Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are and is set to ballet.

The dance film "WILD" is the work of Emmy-nominated choreographer Jeremy McQueen and his Black Iris Project. It tells the stories of Black and Brown young people in New York City who have grown up in juvenile detention centers in the Bronx.

New Jersey on Wednesday reported an additional 4,063 new COVID-19, cases bringing the cumulative total — since the first case was reported in March — to 289,563. Officials reported 27 additional deaths, raising the overall number of fatalities to 14,843. The number of probable deaths from the virus has risen to 1,812.

The Garden State’s positivity rate now stands at 10.88%, while the rate of transmission crept up to 1.43; for every 100 cases, the virus will spread to another 143 people.

On this month's edition of Newark Today, host Michael Hill is  joined by  Mayor Ras J. Baraka along with Director of Health and Community Wellness Dr. Mark Wade.

They discuss the the latest COVID-19 restrictions in New Jersey's largest city. 

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As cases of Covid spike across the country, they have hit a record high in nursing homes.

The industry is urging Congress to pass a Covid relief bill focusing on nursing home residents and workers -- and urging all of us to do our part too, especially now.

Roughly four in 10 Garden State residents say they would not take a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available, according to a new survey.

The Rutgers-Eagleton poll released Tuesday found that between 36-47% of respondents vowed not to get vaccinated against the virus.

Ashley Koning, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, said the results mirror national trends that showed more backing for a vaccine earlier in the pandemic.