(The Center Square) – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Friday he’s not a gambler, but he’s willing to bet the state can avoid the kind of shutdown other states have implemented in recent weeks due to increases in COVID-19 cases.
New York is not immune to that rise, either, as hospitalizations and deaths due to the virus continue to rise, reaching levels last seen in May as the crippling first wave was waning in the state. And while the governor has made it clear he will issue shutdown orders in communities where hospital vacancies may become critically low, he thinks New Yorkers will keep that from happening.
“I believe in New Yorkers, and I would never bet against New Yorkers,” he said. “And the shutdown is in the hands of the New Yorkers.”
Shutdowns of nonessential businesses would only occur if hospitals believe they will hit 85 percent capacity – after adding beds and postponing elective surgeries – within three weeks. Cuomo had previously said 90 percent was the trigger point before changing it Friday.
Hospitals must inform the state when they project reaching that 21-day threshold. So far, none have.
“That’s good news because you have no hospital in the state saying they think they’re going to hit 85 percent of their maximum by Jan. 8,” he said.
Cuomo cited the Thanksgiving holiday and the increased interaction between people as the reason for the current increase in the state, but he also thinks people have learned the lesson and will celebrate the holiday season more responsibly.
As the governor holds out hope, other leaders like New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio believe another shutdown will be needed soon. The mayor said Thursday he hopes the state would put one in effect perhaps as early as “right after Christmas.”
New York City, and Staten Island in particular, isn’t the only area for concern. The governor noted the Finger Lakes region, which includes Rochester and Syracuse, is becoming a “significant problem” as the region has a seven-day average positivity rate of 8.3 percent. That’s more than twice New York City’s.
The governor also reported the state’s Clinical Advisory Task Force approved the use of the Moderna vaccine in the state, a day after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration did.
The state will receive 346,000 doses of the vaccine next week.
In addition, Cuomo said the Pfizer vaccine shipment the state received earlier this week included additional doses in each vial. The vials were supposed to contain five doses, but in some cases, he said there are one or two more doses within the vial, and the FDA has given New York clearance to administer those doses.