ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a conference call with media Friday afternoon to give an update on the state’s ongoing coronavirus response efforts. He announced that, since the pandemic began, 20 million COVID-19 test results have been reported to the state.

The governor provided the following data on day 279 of the pandemic in New York state:

  • 208,297 COVID-19 tests Thursday
  • 11,271 new cases statewide
  • 5.41% positivity rate overall statewide
  • 7.35% positivity rate in micro-cluster hotspots
  • 4.79% positivity rate outside micro-cluster hotspots
  • 60 New Yorkers died from COVID-19 Thursday
  • 4,216 hospitalized
  • 795 in ICU
  • 403 intubated

The governor said hospital capacity remains the top issue as virus cases climb throughout the state. The governor said some actions, like suspending elective surgeries, can help create hospital capacity. In Buffalo, where the positivity rate remains the highest in the state, elective surgeries were suspended as of Friday.

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“We can create several thousand hospital beds relatively quickly,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We know that because we’ve done that before and we can do it again.”

The governor said that hospitalization rates, and capacity are measured when judging a region’s pandemic performance. He also said this current fall/winter coronavirus spike is much different than in the spring, because of increased health care treatment.

The governor said he was encouraged by the average COVID hospitalization stay being reduced from 11 days in the spring, to five days currently.

“When you’re talking about hospital capacity, people are in the hospitals for half the time they were before. Even ICU capacity, when we had an ICU issue, we couldn’t get ventilators. Now we’re not using as many ventilators on ICU beds anymore. In March and April 23% of those hospitalized died, now the number is down to 8%. So god bless the health professionals who learned how to treat COVID.”

The governor said the state would be opting into a plan that would have the federal government administer vaccinations for nursing home residents and staff throughout New York.

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He also said that the first shipment of the vaccine, which could arrive in New York as early as December 15, will be administered to nursing home residents and staff, and health care workers based on priority.

“The vaccine is the weapon that ends the war, and we’re just waiting for that to happen,” Gov. Cuomo said.

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.