New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo laid out the state’s plan to combat the spread of COVID-19 during the apparent second wave of the virus surging across the country.
During his latest COVID-19 briefing, Cuomo said that with the holidays here, New York needs to pivot its strategy in battling the virus over the winter.
"While the holiday season often brings joy to many, the increase in social activity and mobility will also bring an increase of viral transmission. We understand the cause and effect, and the effect is dramatic," Cuomo said.
The plan includes five different strategies the state will focus on through the middle of January:
- Continue to strengthen targeted COVID-19 micro-clusters while managing hospital capacity;
- Increasing and balancing testing resources;
- Keeping schools open, specifically K through 8 and special education classes;
- Prevent viral spread from small gatherings, which accounts for approximately 65 percent of new cases;
- Operationalize a safe vaccination program, which Cuomo reiterated needs to be fair and balanced.
Cuomo said that “if he had to wager,” he expects the numbers in New York to continue to rise through the holiday season through at least mid-January. He made note that the state hasn’t seen the fallout from the Thanksgiving numbers, which could dictate how the state responds through the holiday season.
The governor also said that he doesn’t expect a true end to the pandemic until a vaccine “hits critical mass,” which he doesn’t expect to be ready until late spring or early summer.
"We must adapt to this reality and have a plan in place that specifically addresses the challenges that come with it. We've been through the worst, and while we're not done yet, we are moving forward with the lessons we learned in the spring to come through this together."
According to the latest daily data administered by the state, there were 148,974 COVID-19 administered, resulting in 6,819 positive tests. The overall infection rate statewide rose to 4.57 percent, though the state's focus area micro-clusters - including parts of Orange County - is at 6.22 percent.
"All the experts spoke about what was going to happen when we reach the fall—there's colder weather, more people are indoors and more people are now traveling," said on Monday. "While there has been a change in behavior amongst the majority of people who understand and follow protocols, it's as critical as ever we continue our work and focus on preparing this state, and its residents, for winter."
"We are already in the holiday season, and that is going to have a profound effect," he added. "It already has. It had an effect when people started to travel for the holiday season, when they started to travel for Thanksgiving, when students to go home, when people started to shop, and when they started to move around. Increased mobility and social activity equals increased viral infection rate."
Statewide, there have been a total of 19,272,524 COVID-19 tests administered, with 641,161 New Yorkers testing positive for the virus. Since March, there has been a total of 26,690 COVID-19-related deaths.
"You are not just going into the Thanksgiving weekend, you're starting a 37-day holiday period," Cuomo said. "It's not a one- or two-day affair—it's going to be the entire holiday season.
"New Yorkers need to stay vigilant, wash their hands, wear masks, socially distance, and follow the rules as we move through the next 37 days and beyond."
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