BUFFALO, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo traveled to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport Thursday where he announced new coronavirus numbers, a new lottery-based vaccine incentive, upstate airport renovation funding, and more.

New Numbers

The governor reported the following COVID-19 data:

  • 186,078 COVID-19 tests reported statewide Wednesday
  • 0.85% positivity rate (lowest since September 11, 2020)
  • 18 new deaths
  • 1,490 hospitalizations (lowest since November 8, 2020)
  • 339 in ICU (lowest since November 12, 2020)
  • 208 intubated (lowest since November 19, 2020)

The seven-day average positivity rates for each region are as follows:

  • Finger Lakes — 2.52%
  • North Country — 1.75%
  • Western New York — 1.66%
  • Central New York — 1.49%
  • Capital Region — 1.13%
  • Mohawk Valley — .99%
  • Mid-Hudson — 0.91%
  • Long Island — 0.89%
  • New York City — 0.81%
  • Southern Tier — 0.61%

“We can be doing better,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We are doing better, but we can do even better still. Positivity, not a pretty line, but the line is headed in the right direction and that’s what we like to see. 49 straight days of decline of hospitalizations.”

The state’s vaccination progress, as of Thursday, is as follows:

  • 18,008,846 total vaccine doses administered statewide
  • 10,163,248 New Yorkers with at least one dose, 62.6% of the state’s 18+ population
  • 8,555,224 New Yorkers fully vaccinated, 53.5%% of the state’s 18+ population

“The regulations are relaxed for people who got vaccinated, not for people who didn’t get vaccinated,” the governor said. “We have to do two things first thing is vaccinate everyone. That’s the goal how do you proceed on vaccination? Make it easier, make it more accessible, for the people who are doubtful, communicate the fact. 18 million New Yorkers took the shot and hundreds of millions in this nation. The vaccine has been proven over and over and over again not just in this country, but internationally it has been proven.”

Vax & Scratch

Gov. Cuomo also announced New Yorkers can win up to $5 million if they get vaccinated next week in a new pilot program.

“Vax and Scratch,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Get a vaccination, and you get a lottery ticket for the $5 million Mega Multiplier New York State Lottery.”

In a program running from Monday until Friday next week at the 10 state-run vaccination clinics, those with vaccination appointments can get a scratch ticket with a first prize of $5 million and other prices that go down to $20.

“The chances of winning something in this program are 1 in 9. So it is a very exciting lottery the value of the ticket is $20,” Gov. Cuomo said. “So in essence, get a vaccine and you get a free $20 scratch off ticket for the multiplier game.”

Revitalization for Upstate NY airports

The governor also announced that vaccination centers will be set up at airports across the state as well, including the Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport

“We’ll have vaccination centers at the airport so you’re going to take a flight on the way to the plane, come a few minutes earlier get a vaccine at the airport on the way,” Gov. Cuomo said.

The governor also announced revitalization opportunities for Upstate New York airports.

“The goal has to be when you fly into the Buffalo airport, it is just as competitive as flying into any airport anywhere in this country or anywhere on this globe. We’re going to offer a $250 million airport improvement competition for upstate airports. Tell us your vision your dream to improve your airport and the state will partner with you.”

The governor said $250 million is available to “to transform and modernize airports in Upstate New York and foster regional economic development.”

This new initiative will be administered by the New York State Department of Transportation and is open to Upstate commercial passenger service airports and airports providing specialized service for commercial aircraft/corporate jets.

Applicants may apply for funding a single project or a program of projects that will help meet the demands of the 21st Century. Examples of eligible activities include, but are not limited to the planning, design and construction of:  

  • Improved securityscreening.
  • Terminal expansion or rehabilitation.
  • Stateofthe art boarding concourse and concession areas.
  • Opportunities to move passengers more safely and efficiently with improved distancing during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • New innovations in contactless technology and an increased focus on cleanliness and disinfection.

End of mask mandate

The governor announced Monday that New York state will adopt the new CDC guidelines that allow fully vaccinated Americans to go without masks in most situations. For New Yorkers, those guidelines went into effect Wednesday.

Many local businesses like Wegmans, the Seneca Park Zoo and others have adopted the new guidance, while some area restaurants are taking a different approach like an “honor system.”

Gov. Cuomo said Wednesday, the day the governor targeted for “major reopening” efforts statewide earlier this month, was a “milestone” in New York’s pandemic response efforts, with capacity restrictions lifted across many industries and the end of the state’s mask mandate after being effect for 400 days.

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