ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a briefing Wednesday to update New Yorkers on the state’s ongoing coronavirus response efforts.
On day 333 of the pandemic in New York, the governor provided the following data:
- 5.44% positivity rate statewide Tuesday
- 202,661 tests reported
- 170 new COVID-19 deaths statewide
- 8,771 hospitalized
- 1,588 in ICU
- 1,027 intubated
“Hospitalizations are down 60 from 24 hours prior so that’s good news,” Gov. Cuomo said. “All the numbers are down across the state.”
Due to drops in positivity rate across the state, the governor says COVID-19 orange and yellow zones are lifted everywhere in New York state, except in a few areas downstate, in New York City and Newburgh.
“I think it’s safe to say we’re past the holiday spike,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We will adjust the valves to those facts. This is not emotional, this is not anecdotal. The microcluster zones are down. All across the state — you look at Monroe, was up to 10.5% down to 4.5% positivity.”
The governor said the 10 p.m. curfew for restaurants and bars is still in effect.
“That is something we’re looking at, but not at this time,” Gov. Cuomo said. “If you listen to the federal guidance or what we’ve seen, when you keep the restaurants open late, that tends to be more problematic there tends to be more crowded, there tends to be more drinking, etc. With restaurants, we’re trying to keep it for actual eating so at this time, no, we are not changing the actual curfew.”
Some COVID-19 rules stay in effect, exclusive from previous zone restrictions, like residential and non-residential gathering capacity, as well as testing and safety protocol for schools and retail businesses.
“Whether you’re in a zone or out of a zone, there are certain restrictions,” said Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa. “All of those requirements that exist as a result of COVID continue, none of that goes away, it’s just the specific rules applied to the zone.”
Restrictions that were in place in microclusters included:
- Retail and personal care: 50% capacity
- Gyms and fitness centers: 33% capacity
- Gatherings: Residential limit 10 people, non-residential limit 50 people
- Restaurants outside of NYC: 50% capacity, 10 people maximum per table, 10 p.m. close for on-premises consumption
- Social distancing and masks required, all businesses must comply with DOH/NYForward guidance
The majority of New York’s COVID-19 microclusters haven’t been updated since late November. Below is a list of the restrictions that were in place and are now lifted:
The governor said vaccine administration has ramped up statewide, but supply issues persist.
“Overall, 96% of the dosages received are in arms,” Gov. Cuomo said. “So we’re functionally out of doses and we now go week-to-week. Next week’s allocation is coming in today, tomorrow, the next day, but we are now going week-to-week waiting for the allocation from the federal government. It has been very difficult to plan up until now because we don’t know what we’re going to get next week in allocation.”
The governor said President Joe Biden’s national vaccination plan includes 16% more vaccine allocation for New York.
“We’re going to get 16% more allocation,” Gov. Cuomo said. “So 250,000 per week, up 16%, and frankly just as important, that’s going to be the allocation for the next three weeks. So now we can come up with a three-week plan. That doesn’t sound great, but it’s better than going week-to-week.”
The governor said that even with an increase in vaccine allocation, it would still be weeks until the currently eligible populations are vaccinated.
“Now you have 7 million people who were told they were eligible for the vaccine, but the vaccine is scarce,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Even when you increase the 250,000 to 300,000 doses with the 16% you are still talking about multiple weeks before we can cover just the existing eligible population.”
The governor said at the current production rate, it will take six-to-nine months to reach critical mass immunization in New York state.
“Vaccine will take six-to-nine months at the current production rate of Pfizer and Moderna,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The production rate is the factor that affects the federal supply. We could literally do millions of vaccines, but we’ll never get that level of supply because the federal government won’t get to that level of production.”
The governor said the state can’t wait six-to-nine months for the economy to pick up.
“I’m not going to wait that long to reopen the economy,” Gov Cuomo said. “We’re going to reopen and calibrate with that information. COVID will transform the landscape. A lot of these changes are not going back in the box. Zoom doesn’t go away. This whole remote work style doesn’t go away. People have adjusted to a new way of living, a new way of working. and that will affect the economy and we want to anticipate those changes.”
The governor again warned of mutating strains posing a threat.
“These new strains are something to be aware of, something to anticipate, and something to watch,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We don’t know exactly what is going on with the new strains and the concept of not knowing is very troubling to me.”
The governor reiterated that if a more contagious strain becomes the dominant strain, it could impact hospital capacity.
“The COVID threat is not over,” Gov Cuomo said. “We still have to be careful about hospital capacity and if we run out of hospital capacity I’m telling you today why it will happen: Because a new strain and the staff ends up sick. The only way you prevent that is to vaccinate the health care staff. That’s why the first priority, Phase 1a, was health care staff.”