BUFFALO, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo traveled to Buffalo’s The Belle Center Thursday to update New Yorkers on the state’s coronavirus response efforts.

Thursday’s update on the numbers:

  • 226,068 COVID-19 tests reported statewide Wednesday
  • 4,073 new confirmed cases
  • 1.8% positivity rate statewide
  • 38 new deaths
  • 2,934 hospitalized
  • 691 in ICU
  • 425 intubated

“Today the numbers are good,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The statewide positivity rate yesterday was 1.8%. That’s really good news. Remember when we were up 7%, 8%? 2,900 people are hospitalized with the virus. That’s the first day under 3,000 since November 24, so that’s really good news also. 691 in the ICU, that’s down, and 425 intubated, that’s down to the lowest level since December 3.”

The seven-day average positivity rates by region, according to the governor, are as follows,

  • Western New York: 3.5%
  • Finger Lakes: 2.8%
  • Mid-Hudson: 2.1%
  • Long Island: 2%
  • New York City: 1.9%
  • North Country: 1.8%
  • Capital Region: 1.5%
  • Mohawk Valley: 1.5%
  • Central New York: 1.4%
  • Southern Tier: 0.7%
  • Statewide: 1.78%

“The seven day average for the state is under 2% for the first time since November 7,” Gov. Cuomo said. “As the numbers move, we move. As the enemy moves, we move So this is all very good news, but we’re not done with COVID yet. All those good numbers, but 38 New Yorkers died from COVID yesterday; 38 people died yesterday from COVID. So yes, we’re making great progress, but people are still dying every day from COVID, so we have to weigh those two facts.”

Thursday’s statewide vaccination breakdown is as follows:

  • Total doses administered – 15,170,850
  • Total doses administered over past 24 hours – 250,711
  • Total doses administered over past 7 days – 1,240,880
  • Percent of New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose – 45.6%
  • Percent of New Yorkers with completed vaccine series – 33.4% 

The governor said the vaccination effort has started to slow down, and the focus is now on two groups.

“We were doing 175,000 vaccines every 24 hours statewide,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We’re now doing about 115,000 shots every 24 hours. Did you reduce the distribution? No, we just have fewer people coming in, so we have to work harder to get people to come in. We’re focused on two groups: The doubtful and the youthful.

“For the doubters, 15 million New Yorkers went first,” Gov. Cuomo said. “People all over the globe went first. ‘Well, I’m afraid of it.’ You have a greater risk for yourself not getting the vaccine. For younger people, the 16-25 age group has the lowest vaccination percentage. 75-plus? 72% vaccinated. 65-74? 80% vaccinated. 16-25-year-olds? 34% vaccinated.

“16 to 25 is our target audience?” Gov. Cuomo said. “Why? Why is their number lower? First, in truth, COVID from day one was always about older people, older people were more vulnerable. Younger people are younger people and they have been told it’s less dangerous for them. They’re young and strong, they’re super heroes, nothing can hurt them they’ll get over it.

“Young people have gotten very sick from COVID also,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Young people get what they call long haul syndrome. There’s a group of people who get COVID, and it lingers for months and months. Maybe it’s not going to affect you, but you don’t live in a world alone.”

The governor announced that to encourage younger people to get vaccinated, the state would be hosting a pop-up vaccine clinic in Buffalo, working with public transit there so young people could commute to and from for free.

The governor also announced the return of the Buffalo Marathon.

“We want to get back to the old days right?” Gov. Cuomo said. Everybody talks about the future and change, I want to get back to the old days. So, we’re going to announce that the Buffalo Marathon is going to return this year on June 26 and 27. We are in the homestretch, we’re coming around the last corner, the tape in the end of the race is ahead of us. Now is not the time to slow down. Run through the tape, let’s bring it home.”

The governor said the ongoing investigation into accuracy of reported nursing home COVID-19 deaths was the result of politics.

“It wasn’t the number, it was the accuracy of the number, and we didn’t want to release a number that was inaccurate because that would fuel the politics,” Gov. Cuomo said. “This was all politics and all political football, that then morphed into an investigation, which made all the lawyers very careful about what the information they put out was. What happened in nursing homes? People died in nursing homes. COVID came here before anybody knew it was here. It was here for months before anyone knew it was here. The federal government failed to diagnose the fact that it was here. The staff brought COVID into nursing homes unknowingly. There was spread, which was asymptomatic spread which the federal government said didn’t exist, and staff were infected from asymptomatic people and they brought it into the nursing fact. The federal government was wrong that there was no such thing as asymptomatic spread.”

Regarding the other ongoing investigation into sexual harassment allegations, the governor said he looks forward to the review being completed.

“I have tried to be respectful of the process,” Gov. Cuomo said. “At the same time it has been very difficult letting people make accusations and not responding and people have only heard one side of the story. I can’t tell you how eager I am to tell my side of the story, and the time will come.”

The governor said he didn’t want to project fully reopening dates, as New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio did Thursday.

“There is no person who will safely reopen faster than myself,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I’m not going to predict the future, but if you said to me July 1, I hope to get there before July 1. We have to get back to reopening status, new normal, some safety precautions, yes, but we have to reopen.”

Beginning Thursday, all state-run vaccination sites will allow walk-in shots for all New Yorkers 16 and older as well.

Earlier this week, U.S. health officials say fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear masks outdoors anymore unless they are in a big crowd of strangers, and those who are unvaccinated can go without a face covering outside in some cases, too.

The governor announced Wednesday the COVID-19 curfews for bars, restaurants, and catered events will be lifted in May. Additionally, lawmakers in the New York State Legislature voted to repeal several of the governor’s executive orders, including the mandate that food be ordered for alcohol service at bars and restaurants. That repeal was effective immediately.

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