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Storm could help contain coronavirus in Northeast U.S., but could disrupt vaccine deliveries

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A winter storm has brought snow, rain and gusty winds to the northeastern United States, with parts of New England likely to receive a foot (30 centimeters) or more of snow before heading out to sea on Thursday.

The first major snowstorm of the season forced most people to comply with coronavirus stay-at-home orders but also disrupted travel, possibly including the distribution of new COVID-19 vaccines.

By early Thursday morning, the storm had brought more snow to New York City than all of last year’s winter storms combined, the National Weather Service said.

It also brought the frigid concoction to parts of Washington, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania on Wednesday, affecting an area of ​​more than 50 million people.

Forecasts show it will hit Boston and parts of New England before heading out to sea at dusk.

Before then, many areas were expecting 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 centimeters) of snow.

Wind gusts of up to 50 mph (80 km/h) could down trees and power lines, the National Weather Service said.

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The road is rough. Two people were killed and many others were injured when 30 to 60 vehicles collided on Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, Pennsylvania state police said.

Meanwhile, trucks are delivering the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines. Healthcare workers across the country began receiving the first doses of the vaccine this week.

“We’re also watching the delivery of the vaccine very carefully,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said at a news conference on Wednesday, noting that about 35 hospitals in the state are expected to close between Wednesday and Sunday. Vaccines are delivered between five. “If we don’t have enough resources at our fingertips, it’s another dimension.”

Three major airports in the New York area reported cancellations of 20% to 30% of flights Wednesday, with more cancellations expected. Amtrak has reduced rail service.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation on Thursday extended the suspension of all rail service, in addition to suspending several bus lines, including to New York City.

Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Additional reporting by Timothy Garnder in Washington and Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Writing by Daniel Trotta; Francis G. Edit

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