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Biden sending COVID test sites to ease NYC lines, 1K troops to fight Omicron

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Biden sending COVID test sites to ease NYC lines, 1K troops to fight Omicron

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is launching federally run COVID-19 testing sites in New York City and other areas overwhelmed by demand as the Omicron variant causes record numbers of new coronavirus cases.

The feds also are mobilizing 1,000 military members to help overwhelmed hospitals and setting up a website to distribute via mail 500 million free at-home rapid tests.

President Biden will announce the steps in a 2:30 pm speech Tuesday as he seeks to calm mounting panic about the more contagious variant that’s caused many “breakthrough” infections even among people who are vaccinated.

“The president will announce that the federal government will set up new federal testing sites around the country. The first of these will be set up in New York City before Christmas,” a senior administration official told reporters.

“We will actually have several of those — the first several open in New York City before before the Christmas holidays. And we’re going to continue to add sites based on where states and communities have capacity constraints and where the state and local public health officials request our assistance.”

New Yorkers wait for a rapid COVID-19 test at the intersection of 86th St. and 3rd Ave in Manhattan on Dec. 20, 2021.
Matthew McDermott
President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden is set to announce a national response to curbing rising COVID-19 cases, with no intent on another lockdown.
AFP via Getty Images

It’s not immediately clear where in New York City the sites will be located.

Since last week New Yorkers have had to stand in line for hours to wait for a free city-provided coronavirus test.

The beleaguered test sites at points turned away people who spent long stretches in line for documentation of a negative test for travel, to attend events, or to get peace of mind before seeing family.

Two different Covid Testing Stations at the intersection of 86th St. and 3rd Ave., NYC.
The Biden administration hopes to establish more COVID-19 testing sites in states with “capacity constraints.”
Matthew McDermott

Retailers such as CVS Pharmacy are running out of rapid tests at some locations in response to a surge in demand.

The new federal rapid-test distribution website will be set up in January. The government will make no attempt to track the results, the official said.

Also in January, a previously announced Biden rule will take effect requiring private insurance companies to reimburse policyholders for rapid tests. Another 50 million rapid tests are in the process of being shipped by the federal government to clinics for free distribution.

EZ Test NY COVID testing kiosk at Wall Street and Broadway
The Biden administration plans to add more COVID-19 testing sites in the Big Apple as New Yorkers rush to get tested.
William Farrington
Boxes of BinaxNow home COVID-19 tests made by Abbott are shown for sale next to liquid hand soap, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, at a CVS store.
Pharmacies and retailers are running out of at-home COVID-19 testing kits amid soaring demand.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

The military members, meanwhile, will be deployed to hospitals to prevent them from being overwhelmed if nurses and doctors are sickened by Omicron.

“The president is directing [Defense] Secretary [Lloyd] Austin to mobilize 1,000 members of our military — these are doctors, nurses, medics and other military medical personnel — to deploy to overburdened hospitals in January and February,” the federal official said.

“God willing, we will not need all of these service men and women. But if we do, they are ready and they are mobilized.”

A member of the National Guard directs people arriving at a drive-thru Covid-19 testing site at the South Beach Psychiatric Center in the Staten Island.
One thousand military members will be deployed to assist at hospitals battling more COVID-19 cases.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Omicron variant is responsible for about three-fourths of all new COVID-19 cases in the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday — reflecting a rapid spread after emerging only late last month in southern Africa.

Pfizer said this month that preliminary research indicates that the company’s COVID-19 vaccine works against the Omicron variant, especially after three doses. Pfzier said that three doses give people the approximate level of protection as two doses did against the original coronavirus strain. Two doses of the company’s vaccine were about 95 percent effective against transmission of the original strain.

New Yorkers form a line stretching for blocks to get tested for COVID-19 in Times Square on Dec. 20, 2021.
New Yorkers form a line stretching for blocks to get tested for COVID-19 in Times Square on Dec. 20, 2021.
Anthony Behar/Sipa USA

But even assiduous mask-wearers who received a vaccine “booster” shot — including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) — have fallen ill in recent days.

According to CDC data, 85.1 percent of US adults have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot, but just 32.4 percent have had a booster shot. More than 77 percent of all US residents ages 5 and up have had one shot.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.,
Sen. Cory Booker announced he tested positive for COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated with an additional booster shot.
Michael Reynolds/Pool via AP, File

The US recently crossed 800,000 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic — about half of them in less than 11 months under President Donald Trump and another 400,000 under Biden during more than 10 months, or approximately the same period of time.

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker
USA TODAY Sports

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers

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Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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