Combatting COVID in 2021

The Latest on Vaccine Distribution for Staten Islanders 

By: Olivia Frasca

Olivia Hard News

Mayor de Blasio speaks at the opening of the Empire Outlets vaccine site on February 19 surrounded by city and island elected officials. Credit: silive

The distribution of both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at the start of 2021 signals light at the end of the tunnel in the nation’s long fight against COVID-19. 

The list of eligible individuals to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in New York is growing as more vaccine sites open up and the country approaches nearly 100 million doses of the shot. 

Compared to the beginning of the year, the status of vaccine distribution in March is at an improved level. The initial rollout faced a rocky start characterized by slow shipments and nationwide supply shortages. 

Vaccine eligibility in New York currently extends to groups with underlying health conditions, adults over the age of 65, first responders, health care workers, public transit drivers, school employees, and those in group living facilities. 

The state recently added the food industry and hotel workers to the list. To find out if you qualify for the COVID-19 vaccine as well as details on eligibility, visit the NYC Vaccine Eligibility page

On February 19, city and island elected officials gathered for the opening of the Empire Outlets vaccination site at 55 Richmond Terrace. The site serves Staten Island residents only and is currently taking appointments for second doses of the Pfizer vaccine. 

According to silive, “Upon walking into the site, people are asked for proof of residency in the form of an identification card, utility bill, and other official documents. Should a person not be able to prove they live on Staten Island, they will be turned away and another appointment slot will open on the website.”

The shopping mall is a major addition to vaccine hubs on the island. Most hubs in the borough are located in local pharmacies, schools, and hospitals.

Appointments are still difficult to find on Staten Island, which contains considerably fewer vaccine sites than other boroughs. Eligible individuals can search for available vaccine sites by location and book their appointment by visiting the NYC Vaccine Finder.

As of March 7, Our World in Data reported that New York has given out 5.24 million doses of the shot. 1.7 million people received two doses, bringing the percentage of fully vaccinated individuals to 8.76% of the state population. 

While most CSI students do not fall under the current requirements to receive the shot, this could change over the next couple of months. President Biden recently delivered remarks to the public in early March regarding his plans to have enough vaccine supply for all U.S. adults by May.

Biden’s remarks along with decreasing infection rates could mean that students would be prepared to enter in-person instruction with some form of immunity provided by the vaccine. 

The CSI Re-entry Committee is planning for 25% campus occupancy next fall. As expected, in-person instruction will be prioritized for courses of study that involve accreditation and lab research.

 “We expect to be at phase 3 (roughly 25% occupancy) by the beginning of the fall semester. For our campus, this still means that the bulk of courses will be delivered entirely or partially via distance education, and that classes with some or all instruction done in person will be prioritized to those with the greatest programmatic need for face-to-face interactions, including accreditation needs, lab experiments, or studio instruction,” stated Provost Parrish in a recent email to the campus community. 

“For in-person instruction, the capacity of most rooms will be 50-60% of that previously allowed, which will require modifications on a room-by-room basis for any on-campus instruction,” Parrish added. 

The 25% marker for next fall is a component of Phase 3 in the college’s reopening plan. The college is beginning to plan what Phase 4 and Phase 5 will look like in future semesters. 

At the beginning of February, CSI students were asked to complete a brief survey regarding their need for a quiet study space. The study space would act as a spring semester pilot project located at the St. George campus. 

Despite a widespread call for the library and other campus social spaces to reopen to accommodate students’ study needs, there has been no update on the St. George pilot project and the main campus library at Willowbrook remains closed.

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