Another shutdown due to COVID-19 ‘totally avoidable,’ governor says

Can New York avoid another shutdown as a way to limit the spread of COVID-19? Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’s willing to make that bet.

“I believe we can stay open and we will stay open,” the governor said during Friday’s media briefing.

The governor’s optimism at a time when cases have been steadily on the rise comes down to his faith in New Yorkers, he said. With Christmas just over a week away, Mr. Cuomo said he believes New Yorkers will learn from Thanksgiving and the spike in cases that followed.

He offered up a new mantra: “Slow the spread, stop the shutdown.” He said a shutdown is “totally avoidable.”

“Shutdowns are very, very harmful,” he said. “They hurt a lot of people. They hurt businesses. They have mental health consequences. They hurt children. This has been a long year and the last thing anyone wants is a shutdown.”

COVID-19 hospitalizations across the state stands at 6,081, a slight dip from Thursday’s number of 6,147. There were 120 fatalities reported in each of the past two days. The positive test rate for the state was 5.09% on the seven-day average. Long Island maintains a higher average of 6.08%, which is higher than New York City (4.4%).

The governor also talked about hospital capacity in terms of potential shutdown. The State Department of Health law through executive order says if a hospital believes it could hit 85% of maximum capacity in the next three weeks, it must notify the state. He said no hospitals have currently notified the state of being in danger of hitting that mark in the next three weeks, which takes us to Jan. 8.

A hospital reaching that capacity mark would trigger a shutdown in that area, the governor said.

“We’ve gone through this before and I believe we can do it again,” the governor said. “I believe we can manage [hospital capacity].”

Mr. Cuomo also provided updates on vaccinations, noting that it is now a foot race between the vaccine and COVID-19.

He said the state’s Clinical Advisory Taskforce approved the vaccine developed by Moderna Friday morning. The FDA’s Advisory Committee recommended its authorization Thursday as it becomes the second vaccine in addition the Pfizer one that is now being distributed.

About 346,000 doses from Moderna are expected next week, the governor said. The vaccines are being distributed to 292 sites statewide. Northwell Health is the regional hub for Long Island in charge of distribution.

He also added that the viles of Pfizer vaccine actually have more doses than originally expected. He had previously said a vile has enough for five doses, but it’s actually six or seven.

“The supply of vaccine is bigger than we thought,” he said. “It turns out there’s 40% more doses when they’re measured in the syringe. The FDA has authorized using those doses. The DOH is authorizing it today.”

About 19,000 New Yorkers have now been vaccinated. More information on vaccinations is available at