Gov. Cuomo says state is working on pandemic plan for winter


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WIVB) — Wednesday morning, Gov. Andrew Cuomo came to Rochester to distribute turkeys and provide an update on the pandemic.

Backed by a banner fitting for Thanksgiving Eve, which read “Don’t be a turkey, wear a mask,” the Governor started off his conference by announcing that 50,000 turkeys will be given out to less-fortunate people across the state.

Following a few jokes about preparing a bird for the holiday, the Governor got into the COVID-19 numbers.

Cuomo calls this time of year an “accelerant” for the COVID-19 spread since people are planning to see family and stay indoors. Once again, the Governor remarked that he believes the numbers will go up even more once Thanksgiving has passed; specifically, about 10 days after, he estimates.

Later in the conference, Cuomo reiterated his recommendation that people just celebrate Thanksgiving with the people they live with.

Before we know it, snow will be sticking around. As winter draws closer, the Governor says a plan for the season is in the works.

Here are the steps:

  1. Prioritize the areas with the highest infection rates and highest hospitalization rates.
  2. Keep schools open for kindergarten through eighth grade.
  3. Move toward operationalizing the vaccine.

On the topic of that vaccine, Cuomo still believes it will be months before enough doses of it are available.

One of the governor’s priorities is making sure the vaccine is distributed equitably to minority communities. He says that in predominantly black and brown communities, there are fewer health care facilities and that’s one of the reasons Cuomo says the death rate is higher there.

New York still has one of the lowest infection rates in the country, only behind Maine, Hawaii and Vermont.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 24 percent of people who spread COVID-19 never showed any symptoms. 35 percent are pre-symptomatic, the CDC says.

All parts of Erie County are either an orange or yellow cluster zone — designations by the state based on high infection rates. North Tonawanda and a section of Wheatfield in Niagara County are also a yellow zone.

Orange ZoneYellow Zone
Grand IslandNewstead
Tonawanda (City and Town)Alden
West SenecaNorth Collins
Orchard ParkSardinia
AuroraNorth Tonawanda
EdenWheatfield (partial)

After previously noting that Buffalo and the surrounding towns are on track to becoming a red zone, where restrictions are even tighter, that potential change has not happened.

“We’re going to watch through the Thanksgiving season,” Cuomo said. “This is where I think if we get into trouble, you’re going to see it a few days, seven days after this Thanksgiving weekend.”

Cuomo was also asked for clarification on a controversial comment he made last week, in which he said Western New York had not felt the full pain of COVID’s wrath.

“My point was a simple and inarguable one,” Cuomo said. “On the numbers, Western New York has not been hit as hard as Downstate New York was. That is a fact.”

“Just the numbers, New York City was higher,” he continued. “Thank God that didn’t happen statewide. Thank God.

“This has been tragic everywhere. It has been tragic everywhere. But thankfully Buffalo was not hit as hard as New York City and I want to make sure it stays that way.”

MORE | This chart shows how a region gets designated as a zone.

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