(The Center Square) – On the day when COVID-19 vaccinations started in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an alarm Monday saying he’s willing to order shutdowns if that’s what it takes in order to keep the coronavirus from spreading across the state.
His comments echoed similar ones made by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on CNN earlier in the day.
Cuomo said while the state’s positivity rate remains among the lowest in the country, that’s no longer the most important metric. He also urged people to not focus on closures or reductions in indoor dining or other restrictions on such businesses as gyms and salons.
“That is not what you should worry about,” Cuomo told reporters Monday afternoon. “What you should worry about is shutdown. Because if we do not change the trajectory, we could very well be headed to shutdown.”
Under the new metrics Cuomo announced last week, communities across the state would face a shutdown of all nonessential businesses if hospitals in the area are projected to be at 90 percent capacity within three weeks. That projected capacity would also be based on hospitals increasing capacity by up to 50 percent and canceling all elective procedures.
Hospitals currently have been ordered to increase capacity by 25 percent.
Cuomo also called on hospitals to form partnerships with one another to help avoid situations like what happened to Elmhurst Hospital in the spring. The New York City hospital was overrun with COVID cases during the early stages of the pandemic, yet other hospitals nearby weren’t stretched to capacity.
Rather than transfer people to those other hospitals, facilities in areas with high infection rates suffered as patients piled up.
“These hospitals have to have a better management system, and it has to happen now,” he said.
Cuomo also spent time during the briefing denying allegations made over the weekend by Lindsey Boylan, a former staffer now running for Manhattan borough president, that he sexually harassed her. Boylan said that others in the administration witnessed the incidents and did nothing to address them.
“I fought for and I believe a woman has the right to come forward and express her opinion, express issues and concerns that she has, but it’s just not true,” he said.
In addition, while he said it was “flattering” to be mentioned as a candidate for U.S. Attorney General in the upcoming Biden Administration, Cuomo shot down those rumors as well.
His only agenda at this time is a New York agenda, he said.
“New York has a long way to go to get through this current situation, which as we just discussed this difficult,” Cuomo said. “And then we have to rebuild New York, which (will take) years, my friends, years.”