ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a coronavirus briefing Wednesday, which marked day No. 312 of the pandemic in New York state.

The governor provided the following data:

  • 197,816 COVID-19 tests reported Tuesday statewide
  • 8.31% positivity rate overall statewide
  • 9.14% positivity rate in micro-cluster hotspots
  • 8.13% positivity rate outside micro-cluster hotspots
  • 161 New Yorkers died from COVID-19 Tuesday
  • 8,665 hospitalized with the virus statewide
  • 1,408 in ICU
  • 877 intubated

“We’re seeing the continued increase from the celebration of the holidays — it’s the holiday COVID hangover,” Gov. Cuomo said. “If you don’t celebrate smart, you get a hangover.”

The governor again reiterated the sentiment that the Finger Lakes region remains the most problematic in regards to positivity rate and hospitalization rate per regional population, saying it’s a result of behavior.

“Why is the Southern Tier at 5% and Finger Lakes nearby is at 10%” Gov. Cuomo said. “It is a function of personal responsibility, there’s a basic truth to this. Its not about government, it’s personal responsibility.”

The governor said that the strain, originally found in the United Kingdom and discovered this week in Saratoga County, adds an extra layer of complication in regards to slowing the spread.

“You add to that the U.K. strain and it’s a dramatically different proposition,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Once you say the infection rate can go up — double, or triple, or quadruple — then it’s no longer a race then we lose the race bc the vax supply is the limited. If you dramatically increase the infection rate, the next step would be overwhelming the hospitals and that’s the very real fear we are dealing with now. So three priorities: Slow the spread, increase the vaccine distribution rate, and stop viral mutations.”

The governor said that health care workers are in the first tier of vaccination population to reduce the risk of overwhelming hospital systems.

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“It’s about protecting the hospital capacity and the hospital staff,” Gov. Cuomo said. “If the hospital staff get sick, then you hurt the hospital capacity. Many hospitals are now complaining that they have the beds, but they don’t have the staff. Why don’t they have the staff? Because the staff is stretched, the nurses are stretched because the capacity is so high and because they’re getting sick from COVID.”

The governor said that since Monday, hospital systems statewide have improved the rate of vaccinations dramatically.

“The daily rate over vaccination over the past three weeks was about 10,809 hospital staff per day,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Since Monday they’ve been doing 31,157 per day so the vaccination rate has tripled since Monday.”

The governor reiterated the state’s vaccine distribution plan per population for the early phases:

  • Phase 1a: Health care workers, nursing home residents and staff
  • Phase 1b: Essential workers and New Yorkers over the age of 75
    • Education workers, first responders (police and firefighters), public safety workers, and public transit workers

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In his briefing on Tuesday, the governor said the federal government needs to increase the COVID-19 vaccine supply — a sentiment he echoed Wednesday.

“Supply is still going to be the issue,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We have received about 950,000 doses so far and we have 2.1 million health care workers in New York, so we haven’t even received half the number of dosages yet.”

The governor did say he was optimistic about increased production of the vaccine and supply from the federal government.

“The federal government will be increasing production,” Gov. Cuomo said. “They say they will and I believe they will, frankly the private market is increasing production. Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, Oxford-Astrazeneca — so there are other vacciens that are coming online and the supply will go up.”

The governor said experts project March and April as a potential timeline for large-scale general population distribution of the vaccine.

Meanwhile, the governor said the federal government needs to act more aggressively in preventing the U.K. strain from traveling to the United States.

“I’m asking today Customs and Border Patrol to either require in New York airports that the person shows they were tested before admission, or allow the port authority staff to request of people coming through customs whether or not they were tested,” Gov. Cuomo said. “But we don’t want tens of thousands of people coming through our airport everyday, from countries around the world who were not tested. It’s just that simple and it makes total and common sense.”

The governor said results for the senate runoff race in Georgia was a victory for New York. He said Washington abused New York for the past four years.

“They have been political about it and its been really devastating to the state and I want to congratulate the incoming majority senate leader [Sen. Chuck Schumer],” Gov. Cuomo said. “This was a very, very big win for the Democratic senate and it bodes well for the state of New York . Washington has abused the state of New York for many, many years. They have been unethical, they have been political, they have taken money out of this state and sent it to Republican states. They’ve used New York as a political piñata to appeal to Republicans throughout the country, they enhanced the division in this country by using New York as an example.”

The governor said Wednesday marked the end of Washington theft from New York and the beginning of compensation.

“New Yorkers have been criminal victims, as far as I’m concerned, by the theft of the federal government and our message to Washington will be very clear: We want a return on our property that was stolen,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We’ve had the lowest Medicaid reimbursement in the U.S. because they don’t believe in providing healthcare coverage for low income people and we do so they penalized us through Medicaid.

“It cost New Yorkers $30 billion over the past three years — pure cash, $30 billion,” Gov. Cuomo said. We now have a $15 billion deficient, and they took $30 billion. At a minimum we have to get $15 billion this year to cover our deficit. It just shows you how difficult closing the 15 billion was going to be. That was going to be the State of the State. Now it’s going to be much different, it’s a different senate. The senate knowns darn well what they did to us over the years and they did it.”

The governor said the new senate majority will force him to re-write the State of the State, his annual address to New Yorkers, and he said the rewriting effort will alter upcoming weekend plans in Western New York.

“Good news is, it [Democratic senate] is a very good development for the state of New York,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Bad news is I have to rewrite the state of the state, and the really bad news is I’m not going to be able to get to the Bills game this weekend. We started the drive through testing this morning. This is a model for us to see what we can do to reopen venues.”

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The governor said the state is examining two methods for raising revenue in the state, including legalized sports betting and recreational marijuana.

“We want to do sports betting the way the state runs the lottery, where the state gets the revenue,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I’m not here to make casinos a lot of money I’m here to raise money for the state.

“For recreational marijuana, I think this should have been passed years ago,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I think this should have been passed years ago, I think too many people have been imprisoned and incarcerated and punished — and too many of those people are Black, Latino and poor. I’ve supported it for years and I’ve tried to pass it, but this is the year we need the funding and a lot of New Yorkers are struggling and I think this is the year to give us the momentum to get it over the goal line.”

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