ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a conference call with media Wednesday to update New Yorkers on the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the call, the governor announced new pop-up vaccination sites coming to Upstate New York — including here in Rochester, guidance for reopening amusement parks, summer camp status, vaccination progress, and more.
On day 354 of the pandemic in New York state the governor provided the following data:
- 169,963 COVID-19 tests reported Tuesday
- 3.58% seven-day average positivity rate (6,092 new cases)
- 109 new COVID-19 deaths statewide
- 6,574 hospitalized
Wednesday’s marked the 40th straight day of decline for the seven day average positivity rate statewide, and the the lowest since November 28.
The governor said there are now 82 confirmed cases of the United Kingdom variant straight in New York, up 12 from Saturday.
He said of those 12 new cases, 11 are from New York City, and another was from Broome County in the Southern Tier.
The governor said as of Wednesday’s conference call, 3.3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in New York, including approximately 1 million second doses. The governor said 94% of the allocation sent to the state in weeks 1-9 of the vaccine process have been administered. He said President Joe Biden was again increasing the state’s allocation of doses for week 11.
As supply increases, the governor said coordination and fairness are priorities.
“You have a multiplicity of distribution outlets run by federal, state and local governments,” Gov. Cuomo said. “That is now creating confusion. This was a system set up originally by the Trump administration and it does create confusion. At one point the situation will reverse, I believe, because at one point we’ll have a significant amount of doses, and then you don’t have an availability problem, you don’t have a supply problem. Then the multiplicity of distribution points will actually be a positive, but that’s when you have enough supply. Which experts say could be about the end of June now.”
On vaccinating nursing home staff and residents, the governor said the only remaining people who haven’t been vaccinated are those who refuse to take it.
New vaccine sites
The governor announced new state-federal pop-up vaccination sites across upstate New York, including in Rochester, Western New York, Central New York, and the Capital Region. The governor said once operational, these sites will administer 1,000 doses per day.
“Each site will do 1,000 per day, 7,000 a week,” Gov. Cuomo said. “They start on March 3, they get an allocation from the federal government. They’re jointly run between the state and local government, and we’re going to use National Guard personnel to help us do that.”
According to Empire State Development Finger Lakes Regional Director Vincent Esposito, the new mass vaccination site in Rochester will be located at the former Kodak Hawkeye parking lot on St. Paul and Avenue E.
It will be only for Rochester city residents at first. Additional details and registration instruction will be provided in the coming days, Esposito said.
The governor emphasized equity in regards to vaccinating vulnerable populations.
“I said to the county executives, it is essential that they do a fair distribution: Fair by geography and race,” Gov. Cuomo said. “It is very important that the distribution be fair. This is a precious resource, everybody wants it, there’s not enough. The best you can do is make sure that you are fair. You’re fair among 1a, 1b, 1c, 65-plus. You’re fair geographically, that it’s not just the urban areas or urban areas don’t get more vaccine vs. rural areas. When you look at the demographics that the vaccine rate is fair. We know we have a vaccine hesitancy problem, especially with the Black community.”
Amusement parks and summer camps
The governor announced target dates for indoor and outdoor amusement parks to be able to reopen.
“Beginning March 26, indoor family entertainment centers can reopen,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Department of Health will list the guidelines, but 25% capacity, face covering, social distance, temperature checks, frequent cleaning, and disinfection. Outdoor amusement parks can reopen starting April 9 with 33% capacity, face covering, social distancing, temperature checks, cleaning, disinfection, tickets sold in advance, etc.”
In addition to face coverings, social distancing and mandatory health screenings, all indoor family and entertainment centers and places of amusement, and outdoor amusement parks, must follow the below guidelines:
- Contact information must be collected from each party to inform contact tracing, if needed
- High-touch areas, attractions, and rides must be cleaned and disinfected frequently throughout the day
- Attractions must close if they cannot ensure distancing and be frequently cleaned/disinfected
- Sufficient staff must be deployed to enforce compliance with rules, including capacity, distancing and face coverings
- Tickets should be sold in advance, and entry/exit and waiting times should be staggered to avoid congestion
- Indoor areas must meet enhanced air filtration, ventilation and purification standards
- Retail, food services and recreational activities must abide by all State-issued guidance
All facilities must submit reopening plans with health protocols to the local health department. The governor said the New York State Department of Health would soon have more detailed guidance in regards to reopening amusement parks.
A statement from Seabreeze officials Wednesday:
“The management at Seabreeze is pleased to hear that New York has granted permission for amusement parks in the state to open. We hope to receive and review the detailed guidelines from Albany in the next few weeks. Our team is ready to go, and we look forward to opening for the season in May. We’re excited to once again be able to provide outdoor summer fun to the families of Rochester and Upstate New York.”
Officials from Roseland Waterpark in Canandaigua echoed the Seabreeze sentiments:
“We’re pleased that the Governor has begun to address the opening of summer outdoor waterparks. We faced many challenges last summer when we were not permitted to open. We will be evaluating our future operations when we receive more detailed guidance from the State of New York.“
The governor said the state continues to evaluate summer camps.
“As of now, overnight summer camps can plan on reopening,” Gov. Cuomo said. “That doesn’t happen until June and we hope the current trajectory stay until June 1. We’re keeping an eye on these variants of interest, but they can plan on reopening.”
The governor said some vaccine shipments may be delayed due to extreme weather throughout much of the country.
“Some of the delivery of allocation by the federal government may be delayed this way because of storms across the country,” Gov Cuomo said. “We’ll also have potential of storms in New York starting tomorrow lasting into Friday. This is the set of storms moving across the country and the state is acting appropriately.”
Nursing home controversy
In his briefing on Monday, the governor said he takes “total responsibility” for “creating a void in information” about the number of COVID-19 deaths that were linked to nursing homes.
“No excuses,” Gov. Cuomo said during an afternoon press briefing, the first he’s held since a damaging story broke last Thursday concerning his top aide, Melissa DeRosa.
In the wake of his administration’s nursing home data controversy, several lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called for the rollback of the governor’s emergency powers.
Those powers are due to expire on April 30 and lawmakers have options: To extend them, not renew them, or vote to eliminate them sooner.
Watch the full briefing:
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.