Gov. Cuomo: Unused vaccines for health care workers will be given to those with underlying conditions

Coronavirus

ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo update New Yorkers on the COVID-19 pandemic during a briefing in Albany Monday.

New numbers

On day 345 of the coronavirus pandemic in New York state, the governor provided the following update:

  • 4.28% positivity rate overall statewide
  • 197,183 COVID-19 tests reported Sunday
  • 114 new COVID-19 deaths
  • 7,716 hospitalized
  • 1,454 in ICU
  • 961 intubated

“The numbers: 4.42 on the seven-day average is way down from when we started,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The post holiday surge is over: We see it in the positivity, we see it in the hospitalizations.”

Locally, the Finer Lakes region has seen improving numbers. No longer the worst region in the state for positivity and hospitalization rates, the Finger Lakes is back to the middle of the pack for seven-day rolling average positivity rate (2.99%), and hospitalizations per regional population (0.3%).

The governor said indoor dining could resume at 25% capacity in New York City beginning Friday. Previous plan was to reopen NYC indoor dining on Valentine’s Day, but governor said promising numbers show early reopening is feasible.

“The numbers are down now,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We were planning to open the restaurants in New York City at 25% capacity on Valentine’s Day; they’ve made the point they’d like to reopen a couple days earlier, so they could be ready for Valentine’s Day and that’s a reasonable request. So we start indoor dinging on Friday at 25, that will go into effect on Friday.”

Vaccines

The governor said the New York State Department of Health would be investigating health systems who have been vaccinating health care workers at a slower rate.

On vaccines, the governor said approximately 90% of the state’s supply had been administered as of 11 a.m. Monday.

“We’re at about 90% of all doses allocated used, in arms. and it’s only Monday,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We go week-to-week by the end of the week. We basically exhausted the entire week’s allocation and then we wait for the next week’s allocation.”

The state will open up vaccine eligibility by February 15 for people with a wide range of certain health conditions — from obesity to hypertension, cancer and intellectual and developmental disabilities — that put them at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19. The governor said the New York State Department of Health would hold a conference call with county executives to outline the vaccination plan for those with pre-existing condition, but the governor reiterated a common sentiment regarding the vaccine.

“We have a much larger distribution network then we have supply,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We have many more distributors then we have product on the shelves.

The governor said that 75% of hospital workers have now been vaccinated. The percentage to reach herd immunity has been debated to fall somewhere between 75 to 90%, according to health experts.

The governor said the state’s health care systems have one week to administer those remaining vaccinations to the workers who would like them. Whatever is left over will be redistributed to go toward the New Yorkers with underlying health conditions.

“We’re going to take the excess allocations from the hospital workers and use it for people with underlying conditions and comorbidities,” Cuomo said.

“This week, they have the vaccines to vaccinate their workers and finish, but this is it. It would have been over two months that they had to vaccinate for their hospital workers and they were charged with the responsibility to make sure everybody who would take it has taken it.”

The governor said he was optimistic about the prospects of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine getting approved by the FDA for emergency use. That vaccine only requires one dose, and doesn’t require hyper-cold storage.

“We need an increase in the federal supply because we still have many people chasing a rare and precious resource,” Gov. Cuomo said.

“We do our best understanding the demands of the public wanting info, wanting answers,” said secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa. “We sympathize with these people who are desperate to get this vaccine, but to the governor’s point we are in the position where we are reacting to things directly out of our control. It’s going to continue to be a push and pull and a frustrating process and we ask for the public patients as we are doing our best.”

NY PopsUp

The governor said the state is accelerating the NY PopsUp program — which was first proposed in the 2021 State of the State Address, and is an initiative to restore “culture, arts, and creative energy.”

“We’re going to accelerate that reopening with 300 pop-ups across the state,” Gov. Cuomo said.
300 events in 100 days of pup-up performances. They’re free, not designed to be scheduled or to draw a crowd, but were going to have the pop-up events happening all cross the state and they will be happening over 100 days and it’s going to be exciting.”

With the rapid testing model in place for venues and events, the governor said the state’s pop-up performances would begin on Saturday February 20, and go forward from there.

He said the rapid testing model will help reopen venues and events until critical mass vaccination is possible. Rochester was included in the first slate of the state’s planned performances.

On Sunday, February 21, local choreographer Garth Fagan’s company will lead a special performance at the MAGIC Spell Studios at the Rochester Institute of Technology as a tribute for the staff who have made it possible for RIT to stay open and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I remember with great pride and pleasure receiving a NYS Governor’s Arts Award from then Governor Mario Cuomo and his wife Matilda in 1986,” Fagan said in a statement Monday. “It is fitting that during our 50th anniversary season, we work with their son, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State of New York to revive the magic of live performance in Rochester, NY, simultaneously honoring our unheralded RIT essential workers. We look forward to NY PopsUp creating more opportunities for artists in New York State in the months to come!”

“Cities have taken a real blow during COVID, and the economy will not come back fast enough on its own; we must bring it back,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Creative synergies are vital for cities to survive, and our arts and cultural industries have been shut down all across the country, taking a terrible toll on workers and the economy. We want to be aggressive with reopening the State and getting our economy back on track, and NY PopsUp will be an important bridge to the broader reopening of our world-class performance venues and institutions. New York has been a leader throughout this entire pandemic, and we will lead once again with bringing back the arts.”

According to the governor’s office:

“The Festival will serve as a “pilot program,” creating the state’s first large-scale model for how to bring live performance back safely after this prolonged COVID-related shutdown. The programming for NY PopsUp will be curated by the interdisciplinary artist Zack Winokur, in partnership with a council of artistic advisors who represent the diversity of New York’s dynamic performing arts scene. NY PopsUp will launch on Saturday, February 20 and run through Labor Day. The Festival will reach its climax with the 20th Anniversary of the Tribeca Film Festival and The Festival at Little Island at Pier 55, bringing the total number of performances to more than 1,000. NY PopsUp is being coordinated in lock step with state public health officials and will strictly adhere to Department of Health COVID-19 protocols.

As COVID restrictions begin to loosen, the model that NY PopsUp builds for holding safe live events will pave the way for the reopening of multidisciplinary flexible venues (“flex venues”) throughout New York State to open and participate in the Festival. These will be the very first indoor performances since the pandemic began and will mark a major moment in New York’s recovery efforts. Not only will these indoor events be a symbol to the entire world that New York is back, they will also be a key step in the long process of getting tens-of-thousands of arts professionals around New York State back to work; and a bridge to getting Broadway and all of the New York cultural world open. These Flex Venues are established performance spaces without fixed seating and are thus able to be adapted for social distancing. Examples of these venues would include The SHED, The Apollo, Harlem Stage, La MaMa, and The Glimmerglass Festival’s Alice Busch Opera Theater. All indoor events will strictly follow Department of Health public health and safety guidance.”

Super Bowl

The governor began his briefing by saying congratulations to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for their Super Bowl victory over the defending-champion Kansas City Chiefs Sunday. He described the game as “great,” but the contest that concluded with a 31-9 final score was rarely competitive.

This is a developing story. News 8 WROC will provide updates as they become available.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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