Gov. Cuomo: Celebrate Thanksgiving safely with the ‘family of New York’

Coronavirus

WYANDANCH, N.Y. (WROC) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo held two briefings Tuesday to update New Yorkers on the state’s coronavirus response efforts.

“Today is day 269 of the COVID situation; 269 days,” Gov. Cuomo said. “That’s a long time, certainly when you look at everyday. The way we’ve been looking at everyday, it feels like an eternity, but in the scope of life it’s not that long of a period of time. There will be a day that we look back on this and say ‘remember when we went through COVID?”

Perspective and timelines aside, the governor said the situation right now is worsening.

“Life brings perspective and the question is are we being smart now?” Gov. Cuomo said “Two facts that people need to understand, that explain why this whole level of concern: First of all, by the current rate of increase in COVID, we’re going to see a major spike, by the current increase if nothing else happens, you look at the line right now you see it going up. Over three weeks it’s gone up 128%.”

The governor has warned that Thanksgiving poses problems in regards to viral spread, but Tuesday he said that Thanksgiving isn’t about one day, but the extended time of year where socialization increases.

MORE | Gov. Cuomo: ‘You will see a tremendous spike in COVID-19 after Thanksgiving’

“Now you have the holiday season, Thanksgiving isn’t just Thanksgiving,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season and the holiday season is 37 days. That’s increased social activity. The more increased social activity, the more that virus is going to spread. Let’s say that we have that current rate of increase. Let’s say the holiday season only increases it 20%, which is the low end of what the experts suggest, today we have 2.9% positivity, we would go to 12% positivity.

“Thanksgiving, we urge caution,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Really it should not be just about Thanksgiving. What we’re saying this holiday season is we have to be smarter and different than the past because it’s not a normal holiday season.”

The governor announced the following data from Monday:

  • 4.13% positivity rate in micro-cluster hotspots
  • 2.62% positivity rate outside micro-cluster
  • 3.96% positivity rate overall statewide
  • 164,761 tests
  • 47 deaths
  • 2,856 hospitalizations
  • 559 in ICU
  • 263 intubated

The governor said this isn’t a political issue, adding that leaders on both sides of the aisle are echoing the same sentiments in regards to holiday gatherings.

MORE | New York State Sheriffs’ Association fires back at Gov. Cuomo over COVID-19 comments

“This isn’t political, listen to the health experts. Donald Trump, his administration, his CDC says celebrate only with your household, only with the people you’ve been with, only your pod, only your family. That’s Donald Trump. President-elect Biden’s advisors say the same thing. When is the last time you’ve heard Donald Trump’s advisors and Joe Biden’s advisors saying the same thing? Never! This is the only thing I’ve heard them agree on, so this is not about politics.”

The governor admitted that staying vigilant during the holiday season is a hard thing to do.

“That’s the fact, and it is hard,” Gov. Cuomo said. “It’s hard to do, and it’s so much easier just to say, ‘we’ll do it the way we normal do it. That’s the easy way. Come over, we’ll be careful.’ It’s a mistake.”

The governor said this year’s Thanksgiving isn’t only different, but special, to be thankful for those who have sacrificed during the pandemic.

“This is not a normal Thanksgiving, this is a special Thanksgiving, because this is truly about giving thanks and honoring people who scarified for us this past year,” Gov. Cuomo said. “And there are a lot of people who sacrificed to get us through COVID. There are people who gave their lives to get us through COVID.

“Yes the celebration is different and it is in many ways more profound and more meaningful than any past Thanksgiving,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I give thanks to all those essential workers who showed up to work everyday so we could stay home safely.

“Celebrate Thanksgiving with your bigger family, your extended family, the family of New York,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The extended family is representative of all those people who did the right thing this entire year for one another and acted as a family. When those essential workers went outside, they were your brothers and they were your sisters and they did it out of love for you, even though they didn’t know you, but they were part of. The family of New York. We didn’t focus on the differences, we found a commonality.”

The governor is scheduled to distribute turkeys Tuesday at Wyandanch-Wheatley Heights Ambulance Corp and then again later at New York Common Pantry in New York City.

“With everything else we have going on today you also have a lot of families in need,” Gov. Cuomo said. “So we’re going to give away a lot of turkeys across the state today.”

When asked about police agencies enforcing gathering restrictions, the governor said law enforcement officials have a duty to enforce the law.

“Are you a politician or are you a law enforcement officer?” Gov. Cuomo said. “You have to pick because it becomes very dangerous when a law enforcement officer picks which laws to enforce. What if they don’t agree with anti-discrimination laws? What if they don’t agree with domestic violence laws? ‘I don’t think government has a right to go into the home and tell the husband how to treat the wife.’ I’m not interested in your political opinion. Enforce the law and when they pick and choose, now you are putting their politics above the law and that’s dangerous.”

“I saw stickers of me looking through your window on Thanksgiving. I’m not looking in your window at Thanksgiving. You know everything I know, and the results are up to you — that’s it.”

The governor also unveiled a new, Thanksgiving-themed mask design that says “Don’t be a turkey, wear a mask” on it:

During his briefing on Monday, the governor announced portions of the area are moving from a COVID-19 yellow zone to an orange zone. Parts of Rochester, Irondequoit, Brighton and Gates have moved to an orange zone. Victor is on track to become a yellow zone, as well.

You can check which zone your address falls into with this online tool.

With rising cases across the state and the holiday season upon us, the governor described the current situation as a “toxic cocktail of dynamics.”

MORE | Bello, Dr. Mendoza: ‘Schools should remain open as long as there is no evidence of spread’

“The cases are already at an increase and we are coming into the high social season,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Social activity goes way up in this season. That is a bad combination and it is always the combination of events that creates the major issues. This is a toxic cocktail of dynamics and facts.”

Monroe County Department of Public Health officials reported 366 new COVID-19 cases Monday, bringing the seven-day rolling average to 298 new cases per day.

Officials say there are currently 289 people in the Finger Lakes region hospitalized with the virus, including 53 in an ICU. The current number of hospitalizations is the highest figure reported since the pandemic began.

Officials reported two new COVID-19 deaths Monday, bringing the to-date total to 315.

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

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