Gov. Hochul: Colin Powell’s death ‘cannot be hijacked’ by anti-vaxxers

New York State

NEW YORK CITY (WROC) — Gov. Kathy Hochul hosted a coronavirus briefing Tuesday morning to update New Yorkers on the state’s ongoing pandemic response efforts.

According to the governor, New York state has a 2.58% average positivity rate. Each region’s rate is as follows:

  • Capital Region — 3.77%
  • Central New York — 5.38%
  • Finger Lakes — 4.88%
  • Long Island — 2.58%
  • Mid-Hudson — 2.18%
  • Mohawk Valley — 5.04%
  • New York City — 1.21%
  • North Country — 6.07%
  • Southern Tier — 3.90%
  • Western New York — 4.75%
  • Statewide — 2.58%

“Our recent percentages are stabilizing,” Gov. Hochul said. “We are in a holding pattern, in a sense, and that’s a good place to be, I believe, rather than heading upwards, but you’ve heard me saying it every week: We are heading into a vulnerable time. We are not getting complacent. We are hopeful that this is the last Halloween when parents have to worry about whether their children should go trick-or-treating, or whether they should go to the mall to see Santa Claus.”

The state’s vaccination progress, according to the governor Tuesday, is as follows:

  • 26,841,626 total doses administered
  • 16,320 total doses administered in past 24 hours
  • 86.1% of New Yorkers 18 and up with at least one dose
  • 77.4% of New Yorkers 18 and up fully vaccinated
  • 68.7% of New Yorkers 12-17 with at least one dose
  • 59.8% of New Yorkers 12-17 fully vaccinated

“We’d like to see more young people getting vaccinated,” Gov. Hochul said. “We’ll be talking about the younger grades when the vaccine will be approved for them by the federal government, but I think we can do a little better there. I’m going to continue my weekly call to parents: Protect your kids. You do not want to have your child ending up with COVID.”

The governor said the state is expecting federal approval for the Pfizer vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11 by early November.

“We’re expecting some time in early November that Pfizer doses for children 5 to 11 will be approved,” Gov. Hochul said. “That’s 1.5 million children in the State of New York. I’ll be speaking to the New York State Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics because I want to tell them directly how important this is, that they make sure they have the supplies. We’ll work with them to have everything they need, and if they need additional staffing brought in.”

The governor said 447,811 New Yorkers received a COVID-19 booster shot as of last week, with an additional 590,020 receiving a booster this week.

“We’re continuing to go up in booster shots,” Gov. Hochul said. “Last week the FDA recommended a Moderna and J&J booster shot, but we’re still waiting for final approval on that. Also yesterday, we heard they may be talking about getting different doses. We don’t know if that’s going to be the case, that you can get a different type of vaccine from what you already had, but we’ll get that information out the second we have it.”

The governor said breakthrough cases accounted for 0.9% of all new cases in New York over the past week, and 0.6% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide. She said anti-vaccine groups were attempting to use Colin Powell’s death for their own agenda.

“We had a very high profile breakthrough case,” Gov. Hochul said. “Colin Powell, our sympathies go out to his family and we thank him for his service to our nation, but his story cannot be hijacked by the anti-vaxxers. He had unique circumstances, as many older people have, and was immunocompromised and that clearly went into his unfortunate death. I don’t want anyone to say that this is a reason not to get vaccinated because how did he get sick in the first place? Someone who wasn’t vaccinated gave him the virus. So if we had more people vaccinated, people, even in vulnerable situations, would be less likely to contract this disease.”

The governor said the New York State Department of Health will be raising awareness among health care providers regarding “long COVID,” to help let people know about symptoms that have been established, and treatment forms that are currently available.

“There’s been a lot of coverage on what is known as ‘long haulers’ and it’s scary,” Gov. Hochul said. “I know people personally who contracted COVID very early on who are still dealing with the effects of this and I want people to know, even though we think about 30% of those infected have long COVID, I want them to know we’re going to look out for them. We want to ensure that they have medical coverage for their conditions and there’s not an easy answer on a diagnosis. It’s complicated, but I feel very strongly that we need to get more information out about this.”

During Tuesday’s briefing, the governor also announced the launch of a new centralized website for New York COVID-19 data. She said the site includes new data, reorganizes previously released data to make it easier to consume.

“Providing new data about COVID-19 to the public and making existing data easier to access and understand is yet another step we are taking towards more transparency,” Governor Hochul said. “We will continue to do everything we can to share the latest information with New Yorkers, especially during this unprecedented pandemic.”  

The governor also announced she would be signing a bill aimed at increasing governmental transparency. The “Open Meetings Law” will quire documents being discussed at public meetings to be made available to the public upon request, or posted on that organization’s website, at least 24 hours prior to the meeting.

“The best constituents we have are informed constituents,” Gov. Hochul said. “They have a right to know what’s on the agenda. They have a right to contact their elected officials and share their concerns, and in cases where that information is not available until the last minute, that denies what they are rightly entitled to.”

Watch the full briefing

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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