ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a coronavirus briefing Friday to give an update on the state’s ongoing response efforts to the pandemic, including updates on positivity rates, vaccination distribution, and more.
The governor began the briefing by condemning the events that transpired in Washington D.C. on Wednesday.
“We’ve seen a lot over the past four years with this administration, but I would have never imagined anything as horrific as what happened in Washington,” Gov. Cuomo said. “This was not a political rally or democracy in action. This was anarchy, an explosion of hate, the result of a leader — who for four years — appealed to the worst in people: Appealed to fear, racism, and discrimination.”
The governor questioned the police response to the pro-Trump mob.
“What happened to the security of the nation’s Capitol?” Gov. Cuomo said. “If you’re looking at this, any group of thugs can take over the government, which is what they did. The police? What happened to the security? I mean look what happened when President Trump wanted to walk across the street for a photo opportunity? He had the Attorney General with tear gas and officers — look at how they acted. Here, they had for hours, this crowd running rampant?”
The governor described the matter as “Washington disaster,” called it a “moment in history,” and said the president should be removed from office.
“I believe the president should resign and if he doesn’t resigned he should be impeached,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I call on every New York federal elected official to call for President Trump’s immediate resignation. Put principle over party. There’s no elected official that can look in the mirror and say ‘I condone what happened. I condone what the president did.'”
The governor said Trump’s resignation would initiate a true orderly transfer of power from Vice-President Mike Pence to President-elect Joe Biden, who will be sworn in on January 20.
“I ask you today, are you with the mob? New Yorkers don’t support mob-rule, racism, discrimination, anarchy — no New Yorker does,” Gov. Cuomo said. “And if they do, I don’t care if you’re a Republican, no elected official should support that.”
On day 314 of the pandemic in New York state, the governor provided the following data:
- 243,903 COVID-19 tests reported Thursday statewide
- 7.72% positivity rate overall statewide
- 8.32% positivity rate in micro-cluster hotspots
- 7.49% positivity rate outside micro-cluster hotspots
- 161 New Yorkers died Thursday from COVID-19
- 8,561 hospitalized
- 1,475 in ICU
- 912 intubated
The governor said if hospitalization rates don’t stabilize, some regions could face red-zone designations which would trigger a shutdown similar to the NY PAUSE initiative enacted when the pandemic began.
“If the hospitalization rate continues to climb we are going to close regions,” Gov. Cuomo said. “If hospitals get overwhelmed, you call an ambulance, the ambulance doesn’t come — because there’s no where to take you. That is frightening.”
The governor said there’s only two options currently to reducing hospitalization increases: slowing the spread of the virus, and increasing the vaccine supply, but he said the state can’t increase the vaccine supply because it’s a federally-coordinated effort.
“There are 2.1 million New Yorkers who are health care workers who are eligible for Phase 1a of the vaccine program,” Gov. Cuomo said.
The governor said the percentage of health care workers who have been populated to date is limited due to supply:
“Distribution must be accelerated,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We will add new distribution networks to supplement hospitals.”
The governor said 1,200 pharmacies have committed to help with vaccinations and 500 of them are expected to begin operating next week. The distribution network will distribute vaccines to Phase 1a and Phase 1b population groups, with new providers and hospitals prioritizing health care workers.
The governor asked large union groups — like police, firefighter, teachers unions — to organizer their own administration process for the vaccine, if possible. He said this could help alleviate stress on hospitals and other distribution sites.
“Wherever possible, we want to get those distribution mechanism segregate,” Gov. Cuomo said. “That will free up the distribution process to focus on the largest group in Phase 1b, which is the largest group in the phase, and the group that’s most at-risk: New Yorkers who are 75 -years-old or older.”
The governor said there are approximately 1.4 million New Yorkers 75 and older, and it’s the group that needs vaccination the most.
“This is the group that desperately needs the vaccine,” Gov. Cuomo said. “They have the highest death rate, hospitalization rate, and they are by far the largest group in Phase 1b.
The governor said Phase 1b is approximately 3.2 million New Yorkers in total.
The governor said the state distributes the vaccine supply proportionately by group and region.
“All treated fairly and proportionately by group and region — it’s all numerically proportionate to where the population is represented. Within that region the sub-groups get what they get by numbers. For example, 75 and older New Yorkers are 45% of the 1b population so they will be allocated 45% of the weekly distribution.”
The governor reiterated a sentiment from Thursday’s conference call with media in that all Phase 1b groups will be treated equally and no group will get priority over another.
“You could make a case for police, firefighters, teachers, and elderly, but we’re going to do this fairly and equally,” Gov. Cuomo said.
The governor also said that New York state will mandate social equity distribution by local health departments to work with public housing, houses of worship, and low income census tracts.
“Were not going to decide who lives or dies by race or income,” Gov. Cuomo said. “That’s not going to happen.”
The governor said he would be signing an executive order that would expand the eligibility pool for people who can administer the vaccine and said the New York state Department of Health will set up 20 mass vaccine sites in the coming weeks.
“Here’s a dose of reality though, we need about a million doses to finish Phase 1a,” Gov. Cuomo said. “To finish 1b, we need 3.2 million so for both phases, that’s 4.2 million doses. We get about 300,000 doses per week. So at this current rate it will take us 14 weeks to complete Phase 1a and 1B — 14 weeks feels like an eternity, so we need to recalibrate our expectations.”
The governor said as the federal government increases vaccine supply, the state will increase distribution accordingly.
“The one truism regarding the vaccine that is universal is ‘I need more,'” Gov. Cuomo said.
The governor said he would be delivering his annual State of the State address on Monday.
He also announced the nurse who received his ticket for Saturday’s playoff matchup between the Buffalo Bills and the Indianapolis Colts: Brianna Brandon of ECMC who will be taking her mother, Leah.
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.