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New York issues new isolation guidance for frontline workers

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New York issues new isolation guidance for frontline workers

ALBANY — New York will cut down its 10-day COVID-19 isolation guidance for fully vaccinated people in the “critical workforce” – nursing homes, restaurants, grocery stores – permitting them to go back to work in five days if they’re asymptomatic or have resolved their symptoms. 

The guidance comes as the Empire State broke its daily record with more than 44,000 new COVID cases reported.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Friday the state will issue the new return-to-work guidance allowing fully inoculated individuals who have tested positive for the virus to go back to work five days later so long as they’re asymptomatic, have had no fever for 72 hours, do not have a cough and aren’t on medication for the disease.

“We want to make sure that our critical workforce we’ve relied on from the beginning – and my heart goes out to them, we’re with filled with gratitude – that our workers can get back [to work],” said Hochul during a remote briefing from Albany.

“That includes our health care, elder care, home health care, sanitation, grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants – you know who you are…you’re the ones that got us through the first many months of anxiety,” she said, adding those working in the transportation industry will also be covered by the adjusted rule. 

Employees in the “essential” job categories must wear a mask when they return to work. 

Gov Kathy Hochul
New York hospitalization number statistics
Gov Kathy Hochul

The state’s list includes ten categories listing those who work in healthcare settings – such as doctors, nurses and veterinarians – plus law enforcement areas such as cops, correctional facilities and fire houses as well as other public and private sector industries – teachers, those who work in airports, on trains or in telecommunications.

“We need you again, we need you to be able to go to work,” she added, noting it’s a way to stave off workforce shortages amid a rapid spike in positive cases as the highly contagious Omicron variant rages.

“Given the very high case counts during the current COVID-19 surge in NYS, the Department expects a large number of mild or asymptomatic cases in fully vaccinated persons,” reads the guidance issued by the state Department of Health justifying the change.

Governor Hochul Announces 13 New State Testing Sites Across New York Amid Recent Surge in COVID-19 Cases.
Gov. Hochul announces 13 new testing sites across New York.
Don Pollard/Gov Kathy Hochul

“Imposing a full 10 days of isolation in these circumstances has the potential to substantially impact critical services including healthcare, a sector already experiencing severe staffing shortages.

Hochul said the state is taking a cue from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recently revised its 10-day isolation rule for those working in health care facilities.

“We’re always trying to adapt to changing data as we receive it and process it. So, this is a new announcement from the CDC,” she said, although the state’s new rules go further than the federal guidance.

The CDC on Thursday announced new recommendations that reduced isolation time for health care workers from 10 to seven days, but also noted the “isolation time can be cut further if there are staffing shortages.”

New York COVID statistics
Gov Kathy Hochul

But the rule change drew ire from New York’s largest nursing union – repping over 42,000 members. 

“This guidance is inconsistent with proven science, vague, and doesn’t provide definitions or explain standards at a time when decision-making for healthcare systems is critical,” said Pat Kane, executive director of the New York State Nurses Association. 

“Healthcare worker infection rates are not being tracked and there’s no substantial evidence behind the CDC changing this guidance. But there is a health care staffing crisis the CDC cited as the justification for it.”

“Not prioritizing the safety and retention of healthcare workers from the beginning of the pandemic is what exacerbated staffing shortages.

New York vaccination statistics
Gov Kathy Hochul

That’s job [number one] in pandemic response,” she added, reflecting back on the early days of the pandemic in March 2020 when health care workers didn’t have proper masks, personal protective equipment and some even work garbage bags as gowns thanks to rampant shortages.

New York tallied 44,431 new individuals statewide who tested positive for the virus, up from the previous day’s 38,835 case count.

The new total is derived from the results of 359,191 test results received – another record – according to Hochul. 

Daily hospitalizations are also continuing to climb steadily, with 4,744 individuals in beds across the state – an increase of 210 people compared to the day before. 

New York booster shot statistics
Gov Kathy Hochul

New stats from the state Health Department released Friday show 25 hospitals – all located outside the five boroughs – must pause nonessential elective surgeries for two weeks, as they’ve hit the qualifying 10 percent or less bed capacity threshold. 

It’s a slight improvement compared to data from the week prior, when 28 hospitals were on the list.

Sixty-nine New Yorkers died from the virus.

Hochul also said each of the five boroughs will get a new subway station testing location starting next week, an update to the plan previously announced with the MTA to make testing more accessible to city denizens. 

Another 13 new state-run testing sites are slated to open next Wednesday, Dec. 29 to handle the surge in positive cases. Walk-in and appointment-based PCR and rapid antigen and PCR tests will be available.

There will be one new site opened per borough:

  • Manhattan: Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building on 163 West 125th St. open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Staten Island: Central Family Life Center on 59 Wright St, open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Bronx: Concourse Village Community Center at 777 Concourse Village East open from Monday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Brooklyn: Kings Plaza Mall at 5100 Kings Plaza, open from Monday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Queens: York College Performing Arts Center at 94-45 Guy R Brewer Boulevard, open Monday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Meanwhile Hochul announced that Christmas came early for some individuals. 

She granted pardons to nine people and commuted the sentence of one other.

Roger Cole, 55, was originally sentenced to 125 years to life behind bars, convicted in both 1989 and 1992 of five counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree and one count each for criminal sale of a firearm and possession. 

He’s already served 30 years and upon release he’ll go to live with family in Jamaica.

The governor also said her office is creating an advisory panel to help with future clemency applications. 

Ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo – who resigned in disgrace in Aug. following the release of state Attorney General Letitia James’ bombshell sexual harassment report – issued 41 clemenecies out of 16,000 applications during his ten years in office. 

“Hochul didn’t grant a single clemency to an incarcerated woman, and her bare minimum action means that thousands of elders continue to needlessly languish behind bars,” a critical Jose Saldana, Director of the advocacy group Release Aging People in Prison Campaign, said in a statement.

“Instead of talking about what she will do, we call on her to take real action now and moving forward by granting far more clemencies to incarcerated New Yorkers frequently, inclusively, and transparently.”

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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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