SYRACYSE, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo traveled to the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse Monday to give an update on the state’s coronavirus response efforts.

New numbers

The governor provided the following COVID-19 data:

  • 126,953 COVID-19 tests reported Sunday
  • 3,039 new cases
  • 2.39% positivity rate
  • 41 new deaths
  • 3,174 hospitalized
  • 729 in ICU
  • 454 intubated

“The statewide average positivity rate on COVID-19 yesterday was 2.39%, and 41 New Yorkers died” Gov. Cuomo said. “Those two facts work together. 2.39% is great progress on reducing the positivity rate on COVID, but the fact that 41 New Yorkers passed away also made a point that we are not out of the woods and people are still dying.

“We had 3,100 New Yorkers hospitalized for COVID yesterday, that is the lowest number since November 26,” Gov. Cuomo said. “That means we are back to where we were before Thanksgiving, before the holidays. 729 in the ICU, that’s the lowest number since November 30, and 454 intubated, that’s the lowest since December 4.”

The governor said the regional seven-day average positivity rates are as follows:

  • Western New York — 3.5%
  • Finger Lakes — 2.7%
  • Mid-Hudson — 2.4%
  • Long Island — 2.2%
  • New York City — 2.2%
  • Capital Region — 1.6%
  • Mohawk Valley — 1.4%
  • North Country — 1.3%
  • Central New York — 1.2%
  • Southern Tier — 0.8%
  • Statewide: 2.1%

New York’s vaccination progress, according to the governor’s office, is as follows:

  • Total doses administered – 14,550,880
  • Total doses administered over past 24 hours – 115,854
  • Total doses administered over past 7 days – 1,121,960
  • Percent of New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose – 44.3%
  • Percent of New Yorkers with completed vaccine series – 31.4% 

“The vaccination rate is going up, and that’s what we want to see,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We have done now 14.5 million shots for New Yorkers, which has been great, great progress.”

Over this past weekend, the FDA and the CDC say the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is once again a recommended option, for those seeking a vaccine.

Shortly after the announcement the governor and New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said state run vaccinations sites will resume offering the vaccine as well.

‘The fair must go on’

The governor said the state is moving forward with plans for a New York State Fair for this year.

“The fair will go on for the full 18 days, that’s August 20th to September 6th,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We’re going to make some modifications for the planning, but we want vendors, and public to know, and we want them to know now that we are going to have our state fair.”

The governor said for current plans, the fair will have 50% capacity, but he said these are “preliminary operating guidelines” and said that he thinks it will only get better as the fair date draws near.

“We’re going to organize it a little differently, we’re going to have the fair set up in four areas so we have a better sense of that the capacity is and what the crowd size is,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We want to keep the crowd size at about 50%, so we’ll have four separate areas: Food & beverage, amusement rides, concerts, and agriculture exhibits — and that will give us the ability to control the number of people coming and going.

“We’re talking about operation rules that are starting August 20,” Gov. Cuomo said. “That is months away from where we are today. If you had asked me four months ago would we have made as much progress as we made, I would have been dubious. So these are general operating principles they will be revised between now and August and if things keep going the way they’re going, they’re going to be revised up, more flexibility, more positivity.”

The governor said vendors would be charged based on capacity restrictions at the time of the event.

“If we’re at 50% capacity, we’ll charge vendors 50% rate,” Gov. Cuomo said.

Expanding capacity

The governor also announced, effective May 19, that outdoor stadium spectator capacity will increase from 20% to 33%.

Additionally, beginning May 15, indoor officers can increase from 50% to 75% capacity, casinos can increase from 25% to 50%, and gym and fitness clubs can increase from 33% to 50% outside of New York City.

“We’re going to continue to increase the reopening,” Gov. Cuomo said. “This has been conducted on the facts since we began. If you tell me what the positivity rate is doing, you tell me what the vaccine rate is doing, then I can tell you the rate of reopening. The arrows are all pointed in the right direction.”

Beginning Monday, zoos, museums and movie theaters can operate with increased capacities as the coronavirus case numbers decrease across the state and the vaccination numbers rise.

Press invited

For the first time in weeks, members of the media were invited to attend the governor’s briefing Monday, and were able to ask questions after the announcement.

The governor was asked about his ongoing scandals, including the attorney general’s investigations into his administration’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic, sexual harassment allegations, and separately, if state resources were used improperly during the publication of the governor’s coronavirus book published last year.

On sexual harassment, the governor again denied that he ever inappropriately touched anyone, and said he didn’t regret keeping women involved in his administration.

“I have many women who were working in state government,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I’m very proud that we have more women in senior positions than ever before and I think that’s a good thing — we should encourage people to hire more women in state government, in private practice, in private business, and bring them to the highest levels.”

The governor said anyone who helped work on his book volunteered to do so, but said he didn’t have documentation to support that.

“I didn’t have them sign a volunteer form if that’s what you’re asking,” Gov. Cuomo said.

The governor said the nursing home review is the result of “the politics of COVID.”

“They’re doing a thorough review of the nursing home situation,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Nursing home, what that is going to come down to, in my opinion, is the politics of COVID and it is always a political debate; frankly it started between myself and President Trump about who was responsible for COVID. I believed the federal government was slow on COVID, I believe President Trump did not quickly or adequately address COVID. I think the state was left on its own during COVID and it became a very big issue in the presidential election last year.”

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