Weather: Sunny, with a high in the mid-40s. It’ll be a wet weekend, near 50 on Saturday and cooler on Sunday.
Alternate-side parking: Suspended today for Purim.
The number of New Yorkers testing positive for the coronavirus has declined precipitously since the peak of the holiday surge, but the state still has a long way to go.
New variants of the virus appear to be spreading in New York City, where the positive test rate has diminished only slowly and community transmission remains high, even as the state rolls back some restrictions imposed earlier in the pandemic.
“Everything seems so tenuous and fragile,” Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, an epidemiologist at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, told my colleague Sharon Otterman.
Here’s what you need to know:
The new variants
A more contagious variant of the coronavirus, first discovered in Britain and called B.1.1.7, has been on the rise in New York since the first case was confirmed in the state in January.
Two groups of researchers found that another variant, B.1.526, is also spreading in the city and carries a mutation that may make vaccine less effective. Researchers also discovered cases of variants that emerged in South Africa and Brazil.
The vaccine rollout
As of early this week, New York City had partially or fully vaccinated about 1 million people.
But the distribution has been uneven across racial groups, with those hit hardest by the virus being vaccinated at lower rates. Also, about a quarter of the people who received the vaccine in the city live outside of it.
A New York Times vaccine tracker shows that New York ranks near the bottom of all states in terms of the percentage of people who have received at least one shot of the vaccine.
Reopening might be hasty
In recent weeks, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has allowed indoor dining in New York City, with capacity to rise to 35 percent today, and has given the green light to reopening movie theaters and arenas, with capacity limits and safety protocols.
But some experts think those measures are premature.
“I don’t think now is the time to reopen more,” Dr. El-Sadr said. “I think it is time to hunker down and focus on the expansion of vaccination.”
From The Times
Want more news? Check out our full coverage.
The Mini Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.
What we’re reading
The filmmaker David Shapiro has produced a series that uses New York City pizza to explore broader themes. [Grub Street]
A new art exhibit will surround visitors with the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh. [CBS New York]
What we’re watching: The Times’s Albany bureau chief Jesse McKinley and Times contributing writers Eleanor Randolph and Clyde Haberman discuss the political damage to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on “The New York Times Close Up With Sam Roberts.” The show airs on Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and Sunday at 12:30 p.m. [CUNY TV]
And finally: Your virtual social weekend
The Times’s Melissa Guerrero writes:
During the pandemic, people are finding creative ways to connect through virtual events and programs. Here are suggestions for maintaining a New York social life this weekend while keeping a safe distance from other people.
Flushing Town Hall’s ‘Black History Trilogy III’
On Friday at 7 p.m., join the actor André De Shields for a livestream performance of an excerpt from “Frederick Douglass: Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory,” as part of Flushing Town Hall’s three-part series.
R.S.V.P. for the free livestream on the event page.
Native feminisms reading group
Explore themes of native feminisms, through readings and more, during a free discussion with the interdisciplinary artist and educator Natani Notah on Saturday at 3 p.m.
Participants can register and get access the readings on the event page.
Virtual museum scavenger hunt
On Saturday at 8 p.m., go on a scavenger hunt through 18 museums across the country, including the New-York Historical Society and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Purchase tickets ($15 members, $20 for the public) on the event page.
It’s Friday — get cultured.
Metropolitan Diary: Emergency quarters
Every morning before I left for school, my mother would hand me an emergency quarter. This was back when cellphones were a luxury and you couldn’t turn a corner in New York without seeing a pay phone.
“Only use this if you absolutely must,” she said as I slipped the coin into my pocket, where it would sit next to the one she had given me the day before.
I spent Fridays after school in a small barbershop in Corona, Queens, either getting a haircut myself or accompanying a friend who was getting one. Every Friday, an older Dominican man would walk into the shop pulling a red-and-white camping cooler.
Inside the cooler was a black bag. Inside the bag was what I had looked forward to all week.
The smell of fried dough would overwhelm the combined scent of talcum powder, Barbicide and bay rum that had lingered in the air through the day. A well-trained nose could also pick up the scent of onions, olives and seasoned ground beef. Chicken, too, if the man had any left.
“Empanadas, one dollar and twenty-five,” he would bellow as the barbers continued cutting hair without flinching.
Every Friday, I would dig deep into my pocket and fish around for five quarters, one for every day of the week.
This is as good an emergency as anything, I would think to myself before making my request.
“You have any chicken left?”
— Carlos Matias