ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo began Wednesday’s coronavirus briefing by congratulating President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“Today is day 326 [of the pandemic in New York state], but in many ways, today is like day one,” Gov. Cuomo said. “It’s like day one because we start with a new president.”
The governor expressed optimism about the new administration.
“This is going to be a different country,” Gov. Cuomo said. “It’s going to be a country that needs healing, needs direction, needs a new agenda, and Joe Biden is the right person for this time. I’ve known him for many, many years. He’s been a great friend to me personally. He was in many ways our go-to person during the Obama administration. If I needed to cut the federal bureaucracy and get something done, the vice president was always there and his team was always there. I’m also excited about the rescue plan that he’s laid out. It’s what the nation needs, and by the way, it’s what the governors have been arguing for, for the past year.”
Regarding COVID-19, the governor provided the following data:
- 6.84% positivity rate statewide
- 195,409 COVID-19 tests reported statewide Tuesday
- 185 new COVID-19 deaths statewide
- 9,273 hospitalized
- 1,621 in ICU
- 1,044 intubated
Governor Cuomo reported that the North Country is ranked one of the top regions for vaccine distribution, falling just short behind the Southern Tier. As of January 20, the North Country had administered 96% of their allocated vaccine doses.
Statewide the governor said the infection rate is declining.
“Overall the positivity rate has been dropping,” Gov. Cuomo said. “It’s been dropping across the state and that is good news. We hope this continues and we hope a new strain doesn’t take over which could change these numbers.”
The governor said health care workers are being vaccinated at a higher rate recently.
“The pace of the distribution of the vaccine is way up,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Overall, statewide total doses administered is 1,156,079. 86% of the doses have been administered which mean they are now in arms and that’s great news.”
Although the administration rate is up, the supply rate has stagnated. Although the governor said he’s anticipating more vaccine to be delivered, he said at the current rate, the available supply will be exhausted in the next two or three days.
“Don’t scheduled a vaccine appointment unless you know an allocation for next week,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Otherwise you’ll have to cancel your appointment. Only Jesus with loaves and fish could have handled the situation the federal government created because they created such a demand and then couldn’t’ deliver the supply.”
The governor said there are currently three groups of the population currently eligible to receive the vaccine:
- 1a — Health care workers
- 1b — Police officers, firefighters, teachers, public safety workers, grocery store workers, child care employees, and in-person college instructors
- 1c — 65-years-old and older
Nursing home residents and staff are also eligible, but those vaccines are being delivered and administered through a federal operation.
“I want to keep it fair to those three groups,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Health care workers, there 1.3 million who haven’t been vaccinated that’s about 21% of that population. Essential workers is about 1.7 million, or 27% of the eligible universe. 65 plus is about 3.2 million people or 52% of the eligible universe.
“Ideally, if you had 100 vaccines, how do you distribute those 100 vaccinations fairly among those individuals?” Gov. Cuomo said. “The way we distribute it is we distribute it by region. A region gets an allocation and the region’s allocation is based on a pure percentage of their population. It then goes to the provider networks. One is the government, public side and they basically operate the local health department. Pharmacies are to be doing people who are 65 plus, and hospitals are to be doing the health care workers. The city and county departments of health are supposed to be doing the essential workers, like police, fire teachers, etc.”
The governor said the vaccine supply issue is frustrating.
“At this rate of supply, it takes seven and a half months to get enough vaccine for the currently eligible population,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I’m 63, I’m not eligible. At this rate I won’t be eligible for eight months. I get the frustration. The best we can do is be fair for everyone, and that’s what were trying to do.”
The governor said the next shipment of vaccine from the federal government wasn’t an increase from the past, but he’s hoping new vaccines get FDA approval soon to help with supply issues.
“We just received the allocation number for next week, it’s 250,000 again, so it didn’t go up,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I urge the president to do whatever he can to increase the supply. The Pfizer and Moderna drugs cannot sell by law to a state — I tried. They only have what they call an emergency operation use. They’re not licensed to sell it’s very limited federal approval, and states can’t buy. Private individuals can’t buy, so it’s going to be up to the federal government, but whatever they can do, that’s going to be job one.”
The governor said the federal government should require incoming international travelers to be tested for COVID before arriving in America in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 strains discovered in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, and elsewhere.
“Why don’t we learn the lesson of a year ago?” Gov. Cuomo said. “How did New York wind up in this situation? It flew here from the UK. It flew from Italy. It was never the China virus.”
The governor ended his daily briefing by circling back to the optimism expressed from the beginning of it.
“We are ready, we are energized,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I’m feeling good, we are strong, this state is stronger than its every been. We had a horrendous experience last year with COVID, but it made us stronger. Build baby build, this is a perfect moment in time. Listen to FDR, listen to all the greats. Private sector is slow, people are out of work, money is cheap — build. Like we built airports and bridges and subways and build a New York that is better than it’s every been.”
Watch the full press briefing: