NEW YORK (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a COVID-19 briefing on Monday where he provided clarity on masking in schools and announced that when 70% of adults have at least one dose of the vaccine, most of the remaining COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted.
The governor announced the following data:
- 70,635 COVID-19 tests reported statewide Sunday
- 0.66% overall statewide positivity rate Sunday
- 9 new COVID-19 deaths in New York
- 799 statewide hospitalizations
- 208 in ICU
- 120 intubated
Masks in class, no masks during recess
On Friday, a letter sent by Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker outlined new guidance for mask-wearing in schools and camps expected to be put in place Monday, barring any objections from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
However on Sunday, the New York State Education Department told superintendents that the letter was to get a response from the agency about contradictions in its guidelines. It goes on to say that schools should continue enforcing mask mandates and there will be no change.
The governor said the CDC does not advise students in New York to go without masks in schools. Gov. Cuomo said the organization does not plan to change their guidance for weeks.
“In New York State, we’re going to modify the CDC guidance and allow schools to choose no masks outside for children. In other words children wear masks inside, and when they’re outside of the school building in recess etc., there is not mandate for masks outside. We’ll leave that up to the local school districts.”
The governor said the change will allow school guidance to be aligned with summer camp guidance.
68.6% vaccinated, with goal of 70%
The governor said the vaccinations in the state are going up and the positivity rate is going down. The governor announced most remaining COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted when 70% of adult New Yorkers have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.
“According to the CDC we have done more shots in arms per capita than any state in the county. We are at 68.6%.”
“The light at the end of the tunnel is to remove the remaining COVID restrictions right? Get to a point where COVID is not inhibiting our society not inhibiting our growth. To do that we have to be at 70%. When we hit 70% then I feel comfortable saying to the people of this state we can relax virtually all restrictions. We’re at 68.6%, almost there but this isn’t horse shoes. We want to be at 70%.
“1.4% to go,” the governor said. “But we hit 70% we will be back to live as normal.”
New York State Health Commission Dr. Howard Zucker said based on his predictions, the state could hit 70% by the first week of July.
The governor said in an effort to get the vaccinations up, the state will be targeting the zip codes with the lowest vaccination rates in the state of New York.
“We have 1,700 zip codes in the state of New York. if you look at the zip codes by vaccination rate, the bottom 10% of the zip codes are below 36%. The overall vaccination rate is 68% so these zip codes are like almost half of the vaccination rate. Target those areas.
Rochester was on the state’s list of the lowest vaccination rate zip codes.
“We don’t have enough people coming into vaccination centers to justify having the centers open right now. We have centers open all day and two, three, four people show up. So redeploy those assets to the zip codes because that’s where it can make a difference.”
Gov. Cuomo announced on Saturday that the “Vax and Scratch” program will extend at 10 state mass vaccination sites starting June 7. The participating sites will be open through Friday, June 11.
To increase vaccination, the state has offered other incentives as well, including baseball tickets, two-day passes to state parks, a full SUNY/CUNY scholarship, and an admission pass for the Saratoga Race Course.
The governor urged New Yorkers to get their vaccine to help put an end to the pandemic.
This is a developing story. News 8 WROC will provide updates as they become available.