Cuomo hints at easing COVID-19 restrictions soon as New York sees infections fall, vaccinations rise

FILE PHOTO: Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York State, speaks at the St. Nicolas National Shrine during an event to mark the roof going onto the building in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., August 3, 2020.
REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

By Mark Hallum

With the overall infection rate across the state on the decline and 72% of healthcare workers having received the COVID-19 vaccine – compared to 63% last week – Governor Andrew Cuomo says some restrictions may be lifted in the near future.

During a Monday press conference, Cuomo said the post-holiday spike that he warned of repeatedly throughout November, December and early January has begun to fade, and the state is lobbying the Biden administration for an increased vaccine supply above the 250,000 doses allotted per week from the federal government.

In the past week, the statewide infection rate has gone from nearly 8% to 5.47%, the state reported.

“We’re working on three tracks, simultaneously, if you will. First, keep the spread down, control COVID. That’s obviously the national priority. Second, vaccinate New Yorkers. And third, get on with life rebuild the economy get back to work,” Cuomo said. “This is unsustainable, the situation that we’re in. There was never a choice between public health and reopening the economy, you have to do both, but you have to do it intelligently on controlling the COVID spread the good news is the numbers are down.”

With 3,000 distribution sites through different providers, Cuomo said the state is still standing by for an increase in supply which his fluctuated from 300,000 doses every week to 250,000 more recently. Cuomo plans on using his position as the chair of the National Governor Association to push for a higher allocation from the federal government.

Mass vaccination sites, many operated by the National Guard could be giving out up to 10,000 shots per day. The state has used 91% of the vaccine doses it has received to date, but consistency in weekly deliveries has been inconsistent, Cuomo said.

“So, I’m out today, effectively, I’m waiting now for the vaccine. There are some states that are not out, and that they’re working on previous allocations,” the governor added. “How does the administration balance that nationwide, so it’s complicated. I’m talking to them about it, we’re going to have a meeting this tomorrow with all the governors.”

The promise for lifting restrictions, however, was not promising for indoor dining in New York City.

Cuomo reiterated later that dining would need to remain outdoors for the foreseeable future, while any changes to the economy would be considered based on micro-cluster zones designated orange and yellow.

“That’s what we’re focusing on and that’s what I was talking about. The indoor dining in New York City is a New York City-specific condition. And we’re not, at this point, contemplating any changes,” Cuomo added.

On Sunday, 167 New Yorkers died from the virus.

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