ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — It’s been a long 15 months for most, but during a Wednesday coronavirus briefing Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced New York’s COVID-19 state of emergency expires Thursday.
“The emergency is over, the state of emergency that I declared expires tomorrow,” Gov. Cuomo said. “It will not be renewed.”
Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that once 70% of New Yorkers 18 and older received at least one vaccine dose, most of the remaining COVID-19 restrictions would be lifted.
That 70% threshold was reached shortly after, meaning cleaning and disinfection, social distancing, health screenings, and contract tracing will be lifted for retail, food services, offices, gyms, amusement parks, barbershops and hair salons.
Firework displays across New York celebrated the end of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.
With the state of emergency ending Thursday, the governor said CDC guidance would remain in effect.
“The emergency is over, but the CDC guidance stays in effect — the CDC mask requirement for unvaccinated individuals, public transportation, homeless settings, certain institutions,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Local governments may continue, and I would urge them to continue to enforce those mask requirements where they are in effect.”
The governor said there is no longer a need for day-to-day COVID-19 updates.
“Today is not a day where we’re talking about COVID numbers,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We know where we are. We are past the day-to-day monitoring of COVID-19. We have reached a new plateau, a plateau that should give us all confidence in our success. A long time coming, a product of our efforts. New Yorkers were smart, and they were united, and they did what they had to do.
“But now we’re starting to write a new chapter, and the chapter we’re writing is the post-COVID emergency,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The emergency is over, it’s not that we believe COVID is gone. We still have to vaccinate people, especially young people, that’s still a priority, but the emergency is over.”
A statement Wednesday on the state of emergency expiration from New York State Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt:
“Today’s news that the New York governor’s emergency executive powers will finally be lifted is long overdue news. The progress we’ve made wouldn’t have been possible without thousands of frontline workers, business owners and everyday New Yorkers who sacrificed so much over the past year.
Now it is time for us to turn our undivided attention to the economic recovery and the rising crime wave devastating major metro areas all across the state. As elected officials, we must lead by example. Government officials should finally resume normal operations including making themselves available to the public and press.
We must do better to restore trust in our government, and that begins by making ourselves more accessible and accountable as state leaders.”
The governor said the state’s new monument, to honor essential workers during the pandemic, will be completed by Labor Day of this year.
Essential works monument renderings:
Also Wednesday, the governor announced the latest round of winners for the state’s vaccine scholarship campaign, including Brett Montevecchio of Monroe County.
“New York is pulling out all the stops to get New Yorkers vaccinated, and a free SUNY or CUNY scholarship is one of the most exciting incentives to get even more shots in arms across the state,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The winners from this round will receive a potentially life-changing opportunity to get a free college education, while at the same time protecting their families and their communities by getting vaccinated against COVID-19. We thank all of the young New Yorkers who have stepped up and taken the vaccine, and I encourage other unvaccinated New Yorkers who are 12 to 17 years of age to do the same.”
The fourth-round winners are:
- Madeline Nokland, Orange County
- Tejveer Singh, Suffolk County
- Isabella Weber, Suffolk County
- Audrey Park, Saratoga County
- Samantha Spadaro, Dutchess County
- Brett Montevecchio, Monroe County
- Ford Morrison, Erie County
- Emilio Nabli Brau, Brooklyn
- Gabrielle Fledderman, Tioga County
- Ivy Bloomfield, Brooklyn
This is a developing story. News 8 WROC will provide updates as they become available.