NEW YORK CITY (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a briefing Wednesday to provide an update on New York state’s ongoing coronavirus response efforts, including an update on the numbers, a new vaccine incentive for 12 to 17-year-olds, a reminder about venues going 100% capacity, and more.

New numbers

The governor announced the following data:

  • 133,208 COVID-19 tests reported statewide Tuesday
  • 0.7% overall statewide positivity rate (lowest since August 30, 2020)
  • 17 new COVID-19 deaths in New York
  • 1,274 hospitalizations (lowest since November 3, 2020)
  • 297 in ICU (lowest since November 9, 2020)
  • 177 intubated (lowest since November 16, 2020)

“You look at the trends and the trends are all heading in the right direction,” Gov. Cuomo said. “So yes, you look at the day-to-day numbers, but you look more at the overall trend. New York is at 0.7%. What is the positivity rate across the country? What do we compare to? What’s the national positivity rate right now? We’re at 0.7% and the nation is at 2.6%. That is great, the nation is roughly four times the positivity rate of New York state.”

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

  • Finger Lakes — 2.21%
  • Central New York — 1.51%
  • Western New York — 1.44%
  • North Country — 1.19%
  • Capital Region — 1.08%
  • Mohawk Valley — 0.99%
  • Mid-Hudson — 0.77%
  • Long Island — 0.69%
  • New York City — 0.65%
  • Southern Tier — 0.57%

“New York’s positivity is one of the top three lowest states in the United States,” Gov. Cuomo said. “And that is congratulations to New Yorkers. They’ve listened, they’ve learned, they’re behaving properly, so congratulations. That’s what makes New York, New York.

As of Wednesday, New York state’s vaccination progress is as follows:

  • 18,628,178 total doses administered statewide
  • 10,486,657 New Yorkers with at least one dose, 64.2% of state’s 18+ population
  • 8,888,842 New Yorkers fully vaccinated, 55.5% of state’s 18+ population

Youth vaccine incentive

The governor said New York’s vaccination rates are decreasing, especially among the youngest eligible group.

“We’ve seen a 47% decline in the number of people coming in for vaccinations,” Gov. Cuomo said. “So this is an issue. Where is the need in terms of vaccinations? The greatest need are the 12 to 17-year-olds. They are 5% of the current COVID-19 tests, but they are 10% of the positivity rate. That’s the highest differential of any age group, meaning that there are more infected 12 to 17-year-olds when we actually run the tests. Also that group, 12 to 17, is the lowest percent vaccinated, by far, in the state. Why is that? Well they just became eligible for the vaccine and what they heard for the past year is they are not a priority when it comes to COVID, so that’s understandable.”

The state has offered some incentives for vaccination, including baseball tickets, two-day passes to state parks, and a lottery entry for $5 million. Wednesday, the governor announced a new incentive for a chance for a younger New Yorker to win a full scholarship to a public college or university.

“Today we’re announcing ‘Get a Shot and Make Your Future,'” Gov. Cuomo said. “We will raffle off, on a weekly basis, full tuition, room and board scholarships to any public college or university for four years. It will be just among 12 to 17-year-olds who come in and get their shot. Tomorrow through July 7, and 12 to 17-year-old who gets their first Pfizer vaccine, we will award 10, four-year scholarships by a random drawing of those people who get the vaccine every Wednesday.

“It is an incentive for students 12 to 17 who are planning on going to college,” Gov. Cuomo said. “It’s going to be among a small population so your odds are good because it’s only the young population that has been vaccinated. Once you get your vaccine, you go to a website, you input your information and we’ll do a random drawing every Wednesday from that. People who received the vaccine earlier have a greater chance to win because they are eligible for every drawing, every week. It’s not just for those people who get it that week.”

The governor said that 12 to 17-year-olds who have already been vaccinated will still be eligible for the scholarship drawing.

“For the 12 to 17-year-olds, if you have received one shot so far, you will be put into the pool,” Gov. Cuomo said. “If you go to the website, and fill it out, you will be in the pool. Anyone who gets the first shot this week goes into the pool. There’s a drawing once a week from that eligible pool. Week two, whoever gets a shot gets added to the pool. Week three, whoever gets a shot gets added to the pool. Every week the full pool is eligible. The sooner you jump into the pool the greater your chances because you are in the pool for more raffles.”

You can sign up to be notified when the drawing begins on this website.

100% venue capacity

The governor reminded entertainment venues that they have the option to go 100% capacity without restrictions, if they require all in attendance to be vaccinated.

“All venues have the option of going to 100% capacity for fully vaccinated people,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Some venues are going 50% vaccinated, 50% unvaccinated, but that limits the capacity of the venue. Sections that are fully vaccinated means people can sit right next to each other, which is the more enjoyable way to participate in the event.”

The governor said requiring everyone to be vaccinated is up to the specific venue.

“We’ve authorized 50/50, but the venue can choose to go 100% vaccinated,” Gov. Cuomo said. “If you’re operating in an arena, stadium, theatre, concert venue — you can go to 100% capacity, only vaccinated people. That’s what Radio City Music Hall did. We’re in the business now of creating incentives to get vaccinated.”

Economic recovery grants

The governor announced that 330,000 eligible small businesses are eligible for grants of up to $50,000. He said applications will be open beginning June 10, and can be found online.

Additionally, the governor announced a tenant relief plan, with funding available for an expected 200,000 eligible low-income households and landlords. Applications for that will open June 1, with more information available online.

“What is this designed to do?” Gov. Cuomo said. “Get money to small businesses, let them reopen, let them hire, get money into low income tenants who have been struggling, let them pay their rent so the landlords are financially stable, let the landlords start to improve properties once again. Small business owners can start to improve their businesses once again.

“That’s the real economic engine in New York, so we’re going at it top-down and bottom-up,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Top do is major infrastructure improvement that can transform the economic development of the city and the state. Bottom up, get money into those small businesses, get money into those small landlords, so they can start to renovate and they can start to recuperate.”

The governor said these small business and tenant grants are limited and he encouraged those eligible to apply as soon as they can.

“They are on a first come, first serve basis,” Gov. Cuomo said. “So they start June 1 and June 10; that’s two weeks away. People should prepare their applications now because it’s first come, first serve.”

New York State Budget Director Robert Mujica said there is no closing date on the grant application process at this time.

“We don’t have a closing date because we want to see what the response will be,” Mujica said. “But minority and women-owned businesses, and disadvantage communities are priorities first. So the point is to get to those smaller businesses. The businesses with 10 employees or less are priorities but those businesses who are most challenged will go first.”

Watch the full press briefing

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