ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a briefing Friday, day 322 of the pandemic, to update New Yorkers on the latest coronavirus response. During the briefing, he said that in one week, vaccine dosages that had been set aside for hospital workers will be reallocated for patients with underlying conditions and comorbidities.
Cuomo said that frontline workers are more exposed to COVID than anybody else—”Everybody knows that,” he said—and that, statewide, hospital staff have reached a healthy 75% vaccination rate. In order to prevent a staffing shortage that could shut down hospitals, those workers were prioritized in group 1a.
Still, some of those staff have opted against getting the vaccine. According to the governor, with about two million doses already administered, hospital staff no longer should be worried about being vaccine test subjects. With that in mind, Cuomo said that hospitals have one more week to use vaccine supply specifically earmarked for their staff. After February 15, those doses will be reallocated for patients with comorbidities.
“We do not have a supply that can reach everyone. We understand that. So the prioritization is to reach those people who are most at risk or most essential,” Cuomo said. Cuomo said that underlying conditions, preexisting conditions, and age are the major factors in COVID mortalities, and that 94% of deaths were individuals those comorbidities.
The governor urged local health departments to prepare for this shift. He said that his administration is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to finalize a comorbidities list. “We’re basically going to follow the CDC guidance,” Cuomo said, as they already have a basic list. Still, he said, “Some items on the list raise questions for the health professionals, and that’s what we’re working through.”
On the numbers, Cuomo gave provided the following information:
- Test Results Reported – 203,627
- Total Positive – 8,777
- Percent Positive – 4.31%
- 7-Day Average Percent Positive – 4.67%
- Patient Hospitalization – 7,937 (-30)
- Net Change Patient Hospitalization Past Week – -420
- Patients Newly Admitted – 1,022
- Hospital Counties – 57
- Number ICU – 1,516 (+10)
- Number ICU with Intubation – 1,000 (+14)
- Total Discharges – 131,165 (+863)
- Deaths – 153
- Total Deaths – 35,920
On vaccinations, Cuomo said, “This is where we want to be. We want to use everything that we’ve received and get it into peoples’ arms as soon as possible.” He said vaccine equity remains a concern in a climate with rampant vaccine hesitancy—which includes skepticism in its effectiveness, fear of unknown side effects, and distrust of the government and the health care industry as a whole. “The hesitancy must be directly addressed with facts and validation,” Cuomo said while calling on leaders in Black communities to help communicate the message.
The governor came with stats about demographics. The images below help paint a picture of the demographics of the individuals who have already been vaccinated:
For part of the briefing, Cuomo welcomed New Jersey’s Gov. Phil Murphy. He praised the partnership between the states, saying, “That partnership has saved lives without question on both sides of the Hudson.” Murphy was there to support Cuomo’s call for a fair allocation of local and state aid from the federal government. He echoed the sentiment that the Tri-state area—New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut—have paid disproportionately more than states in other parts of the country.
Cuomo also invited Randy Levine, Aaron Boone, and Mariano Rivera of the Yankees to talk about the newly opened vaccination site at Yankee Stadium. “I used to pitch here and save games. Now we’re here saving lives,” Rivera said.
Cuomo said that a priority is setting up mass vaccination sites in high positivity areas in Black and Latino communities. Yankee Stadium, in the Bronx, is only available to residents of that borough, which has persistently shown some of the highest positivity rates in New York City.
On the potential vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, which presents the possibility of 100,000 doses by June, Cuomo said: “It’s a game-changer. It’s a single dose, not two doses.” He said that change represents a huge logistical difference. He also pointed out that their vaccine requires conventional refrigeration, rather than the significant cold storage, “that most facilities don’t have” and that the Pfizer vaccine requires.
The governor also discussed variants of interest, saying 59 cases of the U.K. strain had been identified in New York so far:
“The U.K. strain is reportedly up to 70% more transmittable. That is a frightening thought. So, we’re watching it closely. CDC is watching it, other countries are watching. But we do now have 59 cases. This is where they are. It’s all throughout the state, and it’s something that we are watching,” he said. Although he warned that a new strain is more contagious, more lethal, or resistant to the vaccine could threaten the state’s progress combatting the vaccine. However, Cuomo said, “We deal with the here and now.”
|Region||COVID Patients Currently in Hospital in Region||COVID Patients as Percent of Region Population||Percent of Hospital Beds Available Within 7 Days Under Surge Plan|
|Central New York||182||0.02%||32%|
|New York City||3,698||0.04%||31%|
|Western New York||377||0.03%||36%|
The regional ICU bed capacity and occupancy numbers are as follows:
|Region||Total ICU Beds in Region||Total Occupied ICU Beds in Region||Percent of ICU Beds Available in Region (7-day Avg)|
|Central New York||262||187||29%|
|New York City||2,607||2,108||21%|
|Western New York||545||350||38%|
Yesterday, 203,627 test results were reported to New York State, and 4.31 percent were positive. Each region’s 7-day average percentage of positive test results reported over the last three days is as follows:
|Central New York||3.03%||2.88%||2.82%|
|New York City||5.07%||5.01%||5.08%|
|Western New York||4.96%||4.96%||4.69%|
Of the 1,449,495 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:
|County||Total Positive||New Positive|
On Thursday, 153 New Yorkers died due to COVID-19 in New York State, bringing the total to 35,920. A geographic breakdown is as follows, by county of residence: