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Sound Bites: SUNY ends COVID vaccine mandate

A pharmacist prepares to administer the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at a community vaccination center in London on Friday.
Chris Jackson
Getty Images
A pharmacist prepares to administer the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

Good morning. New York’s public university system has ended its COVID-19 vaccine mandate more than three years after the state was the epicenter for the global pandemic. The order coincides with the end of the national public health emergency issued by the Biden administration.

Moving forward, COVID-19 vaccinations will be strongly encouraged for SUNY students and faculty.

Statewide, COVID-19 was a top cause of death in 2020, second to heart disease as the leading cause of death. 

According to the state Department of Health, 36,337 New Yorkers died from COVID-19, including 6,000 residents of Nassau and Suffolk counties. In total, over 60,000 New Yorkers have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Those over age 80 were most vulnerable with close to 17,000 fatalities. 

Here’s a bite-sized look at what else we are hearing: 

Bridgeport may cut around 50 jobs from the city police department, according to Mayor Joe Ganim’s proposed 2023-2024 budget. Bridgeport has struggled to recruit new police officers but Ganim previously expressed interest in bolstering the department, welcoming 23 new officers to the city last month. Currently, more than 400 officers are on the force, but city officials said they cannot afford to continue supporting certain positions, including posts that have remained vacant.

More than $2.7 million will be directed to over 5,000 survivors and families of people impacted by the September 11th terror attacks. Since 2015, Congress has provided millions of dollars in funds to over 12,000 9/11-related claimants. With the latest distribution, the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund has provided over $6 billion.

Absences from New Haven’s Board of Alders meetings have been steadily increasing since 2022, according to New Haven Independent. On average six of the total 30 alders were absent from board meetings in 2022. This year, the average is closer to seven per session. Most of these absences were found to be due to COVID-19 complications or scheduling conflicts with other public duties.

Two Stony Brook University professors will launch a pilot program to give Long Island residents easier access to beaches. Professors Anil Yazici and Elizabeth Hewitt will use on-demand shuttles to facilitate equitable public access to North Shore beaches from local libraries. The program will study attitude changes toward beaches and use trip surveys to help design future shuttle schedules and fees.

A project to reconfigure the Route 17 on-ramp to Route 9 in Middletown has started. Governor Ned Lamont joined state Transportation Commissioner Garrett Eucalitto on Tuesday, saying the project will improve traffic safety and mobility. The project removes the on-ramp stop sign to create a free-flow acceleration lane, replaces the bridge carrying Route 17 over Route 9, and realigns an intersection extension to Main Street.

Brookhaven National Laboratory named its first female director. Theoretical physicist JoAnne Hewett was appointed after Doon Gibbs announced his resignation last year after directing the lab for over a decade. Hewett will oversee over 2,800 scientists, engineers, technicians, and professionals to address challenges in nuclear energy, clean energy, climate science and more.

Thousands of illegal Delta-8 THC cannabis products were found for sale in three Stamford vape shops. These products were untested, sold out of the regulated cannabis market, and were designed to mimic youth snack foods, such as Skittles or Airheads. State Attorney General William Tong, in coordination with the Stamford police department, will take legal action against each store for violating the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Eric Warner is a news fellow at WSHU.