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NYC vows to boost funding for litter basket collection

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New York City is finally cleaning up its act.  

Beginning Wednesday, the Big Apple is “restoring significant funding” for litter basket collection — after pickup for public trash baskets was reduced by 60 percent last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday.

“It’s time for spring cleaning here in New York City,” de Blasio during a City Hill press briefing.

“This has been an issue we’ve heard about from community members all over the city. Everyone understood we went through a tough, tough time during the [coronavirus] pandemic and resources were tight.”

Last year, City Hall slashed waste basket collection from 736 trash pickup routes run on the average week to just 272 — as officials cut nearly $300 million from the department’s budget.

The latest spending boost will help bring that number back up to about 440.

As part of the partial renewal of services, an additional 100 sanitation trucks per week will be deployed to tackle litter basket pickups, and Sunday pickups will also be restored.

Garbage from an overflowing street trash receptacle in New York
NYC vows to restore funding for trash basket collection.
ZUMAPRESS.com

“Sanitation is going to play a crucial role our recovery” from the coronavirus crisis, de Blasio said.

City Department of Sanitation Commissioner Ed Grayson also outlined a new agency program called the “precision cleaning initiative” in which borough-based teams will go out to address “quality-of-life concerns” like illegal dumping “and other eyesore conditions that we’ve seen as we’ve progressed through the pandemic.”

“This new resource, this team will help us be even more nimble as we answer the call for a recovery for everyone,” Grayson said.

Trash is piled up at the corner of a street.
Pickup for public trash cans was reduced by 60 percent in 2020.
James Keivom

Additionally, a “community clean-up van” will be available to neighborhood groups who organize volunteer clean-up efforts.

“This van will be out there, it is a great asset to help deliver tools. We partner with so many local community groups to do clean-ups,” Grayson said, noting that from March 2020 to March 2021, community clean-ups have doubled.

“With this new asset, we’ll be able to do even more of that,” said Grayson.

Assemblywoman Layota Joyner (D-Bronx) and Councilman Justin Brannan (D-Brooklyn) appeared virtually during the mayor’s briefing and touted the litter basket pickup increase.

Overflowing garbage can.
Sanitation officials plan to create borough-based teams to address “quality-of-life concerns.”
Helayne Seidman

“In the outer-boroughs, especially in The Bronx,” Joyner said, “many of the communities looked unrecognizable” with the lack of services.

“We received many 311 complaints, calls, emails about the deterioration in the community, trash build up,” Joyner said, explaining, “These critical services are deeply needed and deeply welcomed.”

Brannan added, “A clean and safe community is truly the foundation for everything else.”

“And this is another great sign that the city is coming back strong,” the pol said.

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NYPD releases video of gunman firing into group in the Bronx

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New video tweeted by the NYPD Sunday shows a gunman wildly firing down a Bronx street into a group of people in Fordham Manor, leaving two men wounded, cops said.

“WANTED for ASSAULT: Do you know this guy?” the NYPD wrote on Twitter.

“On 6/25/21 at approx 11:10 PM, in front of 2710 Morris Ave in the Bronx, the suspect fired several rounds towards a group, striking a 26-year-old male and a 20-year-old. Any info? DM @NYPDTips, or anonymously call them at 800-577-TIPS.”

The suspect who shot at a group of people in the Bronx on June 25, 2021.
The suspect who shot at a group of people in the Bronx on June 25, 2021.
NYPD
The suspect firing the gun in the Bronx.
The suspect firing the gun in the Bronx.
NYPD
The shooting left two people injured, according to the NYPD.
The shooting left two people injured, according to the NYPD.
NYPD

The 26-year-old was shot in the buttocks and the 20-year-old was shot in the leg, police said. Both were expected to survive.

The victims said they were standing with a group of friends when the “guy just came up and started shooting,” a police spokesman said.

No words were exchanged, video shows. 

There were no immediate arrests.

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FDA finds peeling paint, debris at US plant making J&J’s COVID vaccine

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A US plant that was making Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine must fix a long list of problems including peeling paint and unsanitary conditions and practices to resume operation, according to a highly critical report by the Food and Drug Administration.

Experts said addressing the issues raised in the scathing FDA inspection report could take months.

Neither J&J nor the FDA has said when they expect vaccine production to restart at the Baltimore plant owned by Emergent Biosolutions. Only two other plants are currently equipped to supply the world with the key drug substance for J&J’s vaccine.

“It may take many months to make these changes,” said Prashant Yadav, a global health care supply chain expert at the Center for Global Development. He described some of the issues raised by the FDA as “quite significant.”

No vaccine manufactured at the Emergent plant has been distributed for use in the United States. However, J&J said it will exercise its oversight authority to ensure that all of the FDA observations are addressed promptly and comprehensively.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was put on a pause in the US over a potential link to a blood clotting condition.
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The health care conglomerate has drawn scrutiny for months over its halting process to scale up production of a vaccine that is easier to handle and, by virtue of being a single shot, easier to use than other authorized vaccines.

Its use in the United States has been paused since last week as health officials study a possible link to a very rare but serious blood clot condition.

Emergent has been seeking regulatory authorization to make the J&J vaccine in the United States. It stopped production at the plant recently, saying the FDA had asked it to do so after an inspection.

J&J’s plant in Leiden, the Netherlands, is still producing doses for the world. It has another facility in India, which is currently curtailing exports of the shot as it struggles to vaccinate its own population.

Johnson & Johnson reiterated on Wednesday that it was working to establish a global supply chain in which 10 manufacturing sites would be involved in the production of its COVID-19 vaccine, in addition to the Leiden plant.

The company has a US government-brokered agreement with rival drugmaker Merck, which is preparing to make doses of J&J’s vaccine.

Failure to train personnel

The FDA in its final 12-page inspection report said it had reviewed security camera footage in addition to an in-person site visit to the Emergent plant.

It found a failure to train personnel to avoid cross-contamination of COVID-19 vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, which had also been produced at the site. The agency also cited staff carrying unsealed bags of medical waste in the facility, bringing it in contact with containers of material used in manufacturing.

The FDA reviewed security camera footage and visited the Emergent BioSolutions plant in Baltimore.
Getty Images

Earlier this week, the House launched an investigation into whether Emergent used its relationship with a Trump administration official to get a vaccine manufacturing contract despite a record of not delivering on contracts.

Emergent said in a statement that it is working with the FDA and J&J to quickly resolve the issues outlined in the report.

Production of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not yet authorized for use in the United States, was previously stopped at the Emergent plant after ingredients from that shot contaminated a batch of J&J vaccine, ruining millions of doses.

The FDA also noted that Emergent did not produce adequate reports showing that the vaccines it was producing met quality standards.

The inspection, carried out between April 12 and April 20, also found the building not of suitable size or design to facilitate cleaning, maintenance or proper operations.

J&J said it was redoubling its efforts to get authorization for the facility as quickly as possible.

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One dead after pair of fires breaks out in Manhattan

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One person was killed and several others were injured in a pair of Manhattan fires Wednesday morning, officials said.

The first blaze erupted in Midtown around 8:15 a.m. inside a DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse at 213 W. 34th St., where an escalator became fully engulfed in flames — sending smoke billowing into the first and second floor and the interconnected 40-story hotel building, fire officials said.

It was not immediately clear which hotel it was.

Five firefighters suffered minor injuries putting out the blaze.

“The fire went out, but we have a smoke condition that we’re trying to alleviate,” FDNY Battalion Chief John Porretto said at the scene. “Units are going to remain on scene until all the smoke alleviates.”

The fire marshal will determine the causes of the fire.

A second blaze broke out 15 minutes later on the Upper East Side at 1576 2nd Ave., officials said.

A three-alarm fire at 213 W. 34th Street in Manhattan that left one dead
A three-alarm fire at 213 W. 34th St. in Manhattan left one dead.
NYFD

One man died in the fire and a second man was in serious condition at Lenox Hill Hospital, police said.

A firefighter suffered minor injuries battling the blaze and was taken to Cornell Hospital, fire officials said.

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