The north-eastern United States is bracing for its second major snowstorm in a week, as intense snowfall in western New York forced delays in coronavirus vaccinations on Saturday at at least one location, with more vaccination site closures expected.
After a historic snowfall of more than 17in last Tuesday, New York City is now expecting an additional 4-9in of snow on Sunday. Local news outlets from Georgia to Washington DC to Boston were reporting coming winter storm conditions, with the National Weather Service warning of “heavy snow” in the north-east.
One Boston news outlet dubbed it the “Super Bowl Sunday Storm”, with snowfall expected to coincide with Sunday’s televised championship game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The snowstorm in the north-east is predicted as Arctic air, known as the polar vortex, shifts southwards from Canada, meaning “bone-chilling cold for nearly every city across the plains and midwest this weekend and through a majority of next week”, reports AccuWeather.
The New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, announced Friday that vaccine appointments scheduled for Saturday at the state-run site in Buffalo would be rescheduled because of the snow. Two other inoculation sites on Long Island will also be shuttered Sunday because of the snow, he said. “If you have an appointment, you will not lose your spot,” Cuomo said, urging patience.
Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said: “I’m worried about Super Bowl Sunday, quite honestly. People gather, they watch games together. We’ve seen outbreaks already from football parties, so I really do think that we need to watch this and be careful.”
The Super Bowl comes as the nation sees a dramatic drop in new virus cases – a sign that the infection surge from holiday gatherings is easing. The virus has killed more than 459,000 people in the US, but the seven-day rolling average for daily new cases went from 180,489 as of 22 January to 125,854 as of Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Health officials fear the game could seed new cases at exactly the wrong time. Just this week, the new coronavirus strain that spread quickly in the UK was confirmed in Kansas after turning up in several other states. Other highly contagious variants also have scientists worried. States are in a race to vaccinate before the newcomers become widespread and additional strains emerge.
The Associated Press contributed to this report