Gov. Cuomo: NYS Dept. of Health reviewing COVID-19 restrictions as numbers improve

New York State

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo hosted a briefing Monday to give an update on the state’s ongoing coronavirus response efforts. The governor delivered remarks from Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo.

On day 331 of the pandemic in New York state, the governor provided the following data:

  • 5.47% positivitity rate statewide
  • 219,538 tests reported Sunday in new York
  • 167 new COVID-19 deaths in New York
  • 8,370 hospitalizations
  • 1,522 in ICU
  • 1,005 intubated

Locally, the hospitalization rate remains among the highest in the state, but hospitalizations are a lagging indicator, and overall COVID-19 data in Monroe County and the Finger Lakes show the situation is improving.

“Finger Lakes has made some progress in the past few weeks, but the Finger Lakes is still an issue for us, Long Island is an issue, and the Bronx is an issue,” Gov. Cuomo said.

The governor said New York shows promising trends in the data, including a declining positivity rate, and less than 1:1 transmission rate. The governor said experts projected a peak in mid-January, but the holiday spike wasn’t as bad as projected.

“December 25, Christmas week — big socialization week. We saw the numbers go up, and now you see them coming down,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The increased social activity, we were afraid we would see a spike. We said wear a mask, celebrate smartly. We hoped the spike would end after January 1 when people stopped socializing as much, and it starts to trail off, and that’s right where we are frankly.”

The governor said New York is in a position to reopen some economic activity and reduce restrictions as the data shows its safer to do so. He said the Department of Health is reviewing those protocols and more information will be shared in the coming days.

“The rate of transmission — one of the most important numbers — has now declined below one, meaning the virus is no longer spreading quickly. And when those numbers decrease, you can increase economic activity,” Gov. Cuomo said.

Since last fall, most of Monroe County has been under yellow or orange zone COVID-19 restrictions, which include limits on religious worship, restaurants, and more.

MORE | Indoor dining set to resume for orange zone restaurants as New York state alters COVID-19 rules

Although promising, the governor urged New Yorkers to remember the everyday safety matters that help flatten the curve.

“Don’t get cocky with COVID,” Gov. Cuomo said. “This virus has been ahead of us every step of the way. Wash your hands, wear your mask, be smart. I know the numbers look good today, but we’ve been down this road before and the road has potholes, so please be smart.”

The governor said the state has administered 91% of the COVID-19 vaccine doses it has received so far. Supply issues remain a problem as counties report shortages throughout New York.

“We keep telling the counties to stop scheduling appointments they cannot fulfil,” Gov. Cuomo said. “If you got your first dose, don’t worry, we have your second dose, but the issue with the vaccine is simply the supply.”

MORE | Statewide shortage alters COVID-19 vaccination appointments in Genesee, Orleans Counties

The governor said the first few shipments of the vaccine included approximately 300,000 doses per week, but that’s since been scaled back to 250,000 per week. The governor said the state has its distribution sites ready for when supply ramps up.

“We can get the needle in the arm, we just need the supply itself,” Gov. Cuomo said. “This is not a New York issue. It’s a problem all across the country, all across the glove. Every country is trying to get more vaccine. That’s the situation we’re in.”

The governor said COVID-19 opened the eyes of Americans in that public health is not just an academic or theoretical topic. He said the hard lessons learned over the past year need to be remembered going forward.

“You need the vaccine system set up, the quarantine policies set up, a communication plan,” Gov. Cuomo said. “You need people to get the same information so it’s not the anxiety we had last time. Plans alone are not effective if you cannot implement them to scale.”

The governor said there has been an uptick in health care workers who have been vaccinated.

“Last Monday we were at 62% of health care workers who were vaccinated,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Today we’re at 72% and that is a huge improvement.”

Health care workers are part of Phase 1a of the vaccination priority. Combined with Phase 1b, which includes some essential workers, and residents who are 65-years-old and up, there are approximately 7 million New Yorkers eligible for the vaccine, including those who have already received at least one dose.

Given the current supply issues, it would take months to vaccinate the currently eligible groups at the current rate.

The governor said there are 1.3 million eligible health care workers yet to be vaccinated, 1.7 million from essential workers, and 3.2 million in the 65+ population. He added that the vaccine allocations will be distributed proportionately.

The governor reiterated how the repeal of SALT is necessary action by the federal government to help New York state’s $15 billion deficit.

“The federal government now taxes the tax,” Gov. Cuomo said. “SALT raised New Yorker’s taxes $2,600 per year on average.”

The governor reminded that there are 66 days until April 1 — the day local municipalities have to submit community-approved police policies by, or they will risk losing state funding.

“We have 500 localities with police departments in this state. I said ‘work with the police, work with the community, and come up with a plan the community accepts by April 1,'” Gov. Cuomo said. “If not, that locality won’t be issued in the state budget.”

The governor concluded his briefing by congratulating the Buffalo Bills on a successful season.

“I want to thank the Buffalo Bills for a great, great season,” Gov. Cuomo said. “It’s been many years since we could watch a game like last night. A lot of talent with a lot of promise for the future. We wanted a different outcome, but that doesn’t diminish what was achieved.

“The Bills, and what’s beautiful about them, is that the team symbolizes Buffalo,” Gov. Cuomo said. “There’s no quit in Buffalo. There’s no quit in Jim Kelly, still no quit in Jim Kelly. There’s no quit in Buffalo.”

“Mr. Mahomes, Kansas City, we will see you next year and I’d wager the result will be different” Gov. Cuomo said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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