ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — During a conference call with the media last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state is extending the 11 p.m. curfew for food and drink service to midnight beginning Monday, April 19. Catered events will extend from midnight to 1 a.m.

The governor also announced that fans could return to auto and horse racing venues beginning next Friday — at 20% capacity and in line with current state guidance on outdoor gatherings.

“As the numbers are down on COVID, we talk about adjusting the valve,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We caution New Yorkers, don’t get cocky. The disease is still very much with us. We have to stay smart until COVID is crushed and it won’t be crushed until we get herd immunity and we won’t get herd immunity until we’re finished vaccinating everyone.”

The governor announced the following coronavirus data:

  • 208,163 COVID-19 tests reported statewide Tuesday
  • 6,192 new confirmed cases
  • 2.97% statewide positivity rate
  • 43 new COVID-19 deaths
  • 4,091 hospitalized
  • 887 in ICU
  • 563 intubated

The governor said Western New York was the region with the highest current seven-day average positivity rate (4.8%), followed by Mid-Huson (3.7%), Long Island (3.7%), and New York City (3%).

The governor said, as of Wednesday afternoon, New York had administered more than 12.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, adding that more than 5 million New Yorkers are fully vaccinated, and that 39% of the state population has received at least one dose, but the governor urged those who haven’t been vaccinated to schedule an appointment.

“It is a civic duty in my opinion,” Gov. Cuomo said. “you take the vaccine, not just for yourself, you take it to keep others safe.”

Regarding the pause in use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, due to rare instances of blood clots, the governor said the state is abiding by the CDC and FDA recommendations, and the state will continue to monitor as more data becomes available.

“It is a peculiar situation,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Out of 6.8 million J&J doses, they have six women who had an adverse reaction. One of them passed away, but that is literally one in a million. They wanted to pause so they could communicate with the health care community and it is open as to how long that pause will be.”

The governor questioned the legality of the decision made by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who Tuesday announced that fans must be vaccinated to attend games for the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres this fall.

“I don’t think the county executive is legally correct, but besides that, we tend to work in collaborative with local government,” Gov. Cuomo said. “And we’re just not there yet to make those decisions. Things change so quickly. Where are you going to be in four months? I’ll tell you in four months. I just think it’s early to make a decision months ahead. Legally, the state would have to sign off on it. Practically, we tend to do it as a collaborative.”

When asked about projecting a fully reopened state, like California announced last week, the governor said it’s too soon to make those kinds of determinations.

“The problem with looking into the future is that the future is not that predictable,” Gov. Cuomo said. “You can hypothesize about what the COVID rate is going to be down the road, but nobody knows, and nobody knows because a major factor is human behavior. We talked until we were blue in the face going into the holidays. They made fun of me, I was Scrooge. They had those pictures of me looking into your window, and what happened? People gathered and the infection rate went off the charts and then we had to recover from that.”

The governor said the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright by a police officer in Minnesota is another example of a flawed system between law enforcement and the community it’s sworn to protect.

“It’s a tragic result of a flawed system that devalues the lives of Black men and women,” Gov. Cuomo said. New York has been the most aggressive state in the United States of America in addressing this. You need to resolve the tension between the police and the community. You don’t have an option of ending the police, that’s not an option, and you don’t have the option of continuing with distrust of police.”

When asked about the ongoing investigation into the governor’s behavior, Cuomo reiterated that he never meant to offend anyone.

“I generally don’t mean to offend people in conversations,” Gov. Cuomo said. People can take offense, even though I don’t mean offense, but I didn’t mean to offend anyone. Have I had conversations where I have intended to offend people? Yeah, but not with my staff. That doesn’t mean in human interaction a person can’t walk away for a conversation and say ‘I found that offensive.’ On the attorney general’s review, you should ask the attorney general’s office. It would be inappropriate for me to comment on the attorney general’s review, and I said that many times when I was attorney general.”

Earlier Wednesday, the governor traveled to Belmont Park on Long Island Wednesday to announce details on a new arena, green energy initiatives, and more.

“Belmont Park, we’re going to build here a magnificent, magnificent island arena,” Gov. Cuomo said. “19,000 seats, designed specifically for hockey as a permanent home for the Islanders. It’s going to be one of the best facilities in the country: 19,000 seats, $850 million of annual economic activity, 3,200 permanent jobs will be right here in the Islanders arena.”

The governor said the stadium construction will be completed later this year.

Along with the stadium development, the governor said Long Island would be a factor of New York state’s commitment to renewable energy.

“We know we’ve been destroying our environment for a long time,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We know we need alternative power sources, for Long Island and the state, for a long time, and now is the time to do it. Everyone talks about the green economy and the green revolution and the green world, but they talk. You know what we’re going to do? We’re going to actually make it a reality in this state and lead the transformation to renewable energy, with wind turbines, with solar energy, with the new green grid that can unite the entire state and bring renewable energy all throughout the state with good union paying jobs.”

The governor also said he wants to help cut cut taxes for the middle class.

“We also have to reduce middle class taxes on Long Island because we are taxing people out of this state,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We are taxing people out of this state and most of all we have to get property taxes down on Long Island, they’re the highest in the country.”

Northwell Health was on site and announced they will be vaccinating all workers of the new arena.

“The vaccine only works if you take. it. The vaccine only works if you take it. We have — thanks to Northwell and other providers — the largest distribution network probably in the country,” Gov. Cuomo said. “You have no right to walk around and infect someone who might die. It is your civic duty so get the vaccination.”

Gov. Cuomo’s afternoon press briefing

Gov. Cuomo’s Long Island announcement

On Tuesday, the governor visited Angry Orchard Cider House in Walden, New York where he announced an additional $50 million in state funding for the Nourish New York program, and a new series of mobile vaccination sites targeting agricultural workers.

Earlier Tuesday, New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker suspended the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in New York following a CDC and FDA report involving rare blood clots. All vaccine appointments involving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at state-run sites were replaced with Pfizer vaccine instead.

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