On Thursday, President Joe Biden addressed, remotely, the National Governors Association, which Andrew Cuomo chairs. Biden stressed his theme of uniting Americans and urged support of the American Rescue Plan.

Falling COVID-19 infection rates have led to the relaxing of rules for quarantining at schools in the county and for the state opening up a variety of economic sectors and allowing visitors in nursing homes.

The state and federal governments together have opened mass vaccination sites for Black and brown communities, which have disproportionately been hurt by the pandemic. One of those sites is at the Washington Avenue Armory in Albany. Appointments begin on March 3 for residents of these ZIP codes: 12202, 12206, 12207, 12209, and 12210.

Movie theaters in New York City will be brought in line with the rest of the state at 25-percent capacity, weddings and catered events can be held at 50-percent capacity, billiard halls — having won a lawsuit — can reopen statewide at 50-percent capacity, and nursing homes will be open to visitors.

“This variant was first identified in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa, in samples dating back to the beginning of October 2020,” reports the CDC, and also says, “Currently there is no evidence to suggest that this variant has any impact on disease severity.”

Starting on Wednesday, the state will ask local districts to report on how many teachers have been vaccinated and how many are teaching in-person classes.

Originally, scientists thought that the B.1.17 variant, while more transmissible, was not more severe. Recently, however, British scientists have reported “updated and additional analyses, which together strengthen the earlier finding of increased disease severity in people infected with VOC B.1.1.7 compared to other virus variants.”

“Tragically, and even worse,” said Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy, “life expectancy dropped by almost three years for African Americans and two years for Hispanics. This is exactly the reason why we need to continue to work towards getting the vaccine to our most vulnerable populations and minority communities.”

In November 2019, Albany Country Club proposed changing the zoning of 549 acres from Rural Agricultural to Country Hamlet for a 290-unit development consisting of 100 single-family homes, 100 townhomes, and 90 multi-family units.

The Empire Center, which went to court to get data from the state on nursing-home deaths in New York, released an


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