New York reached its lowest statewide positivity rate in eight months on the seven-day average on Sunday, clocking in at 0.9 percent.
The encouraging trend prompted Gov. Andrew Cuomo to proclaim that with the current flattening of the infections, he expects the state’s public schools to fully open for the start of the 2021-22 school year.
“We have to get back to school, and upon the current trajectory, there is no reason why we can’t open schools statewide in September, and it will, I believe, all across the state,” he said.
Cuomo delivered the news as nearly 10.4 million New Yorkers have had at least one dose of one of the vaccines as of Monday morning, accounting for 52 percent of the state’s total population and about 64 percent of eligible New Yorkers.
Almost 8.8 million state residents are now fully vaccinated, according to the state’s vaccination tracker.
The positivity rate has now dropped for 49 consecutive days and is the lowest since Sept. 21.
However, the sobering reality, Cuomo said, is that the number of daily doses administered statewide has dipped below 100,000 and continues to slow.
“It’s not over. We are managing it by what we are doing and the tool that manages it is the vaccination, and that is key, to keep the vaccinations going,” he said.
On Monday morning, Cuomo unveiled yet another incentive to entice people who have yet to get the vaccine. Anyone who visits any one of New York’s 16 state parks this weekend to receive the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccination, will receive a free two-day family pass to any state park. It can be used through Sept. 30.
In Westchester, vaccinations will be administered at FDR State Park in Yorktown this Saturday, Sunday and Monday. For those looking to have a day outdoors this weekend and haven’t yet been vaccinated, it’s a convenient way to get it done, Cuomo said.
“It’s easy, it makes sense, it’s smart, you don’t have to go out of your way and it’s the right thing to do,” he said.
Last Thursday, it was announced that the state will be giving away a free Mega Multiplier lottery ticket for those who haven’t yet received a vaccine if they travel to one of the 10 major vaccination hubs. In Westchester, the Yonkers armory is one of the 10 sites, although that site is going to be closing on Tuesday.
The Vax & Scratch initiative will be offered through Friday. Each person who participates to get vaccinated will receive the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Other sites in the region that will offer the free lottery ticket include the Javits Center in Manhattan and Bay Eden in the Bronx.
Additional enticements have included the Yankees and Mets offering free tickets if fans are vaccinated at their home games and events such as next month’s closing night festivities of the Tribeca Film Festival at the June 19 reopening of Radio City Music Hall will only be open to those who get inoculated.
Every day this week through Friday, Westchester County Airport will be one of seven airports throughout the state that will be providing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to U.S. residents arriving or departing. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports are also participating along with those in Albany, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse.
The Westchester County Airport vaccination site will be open from 5 to 9 p.m. No appointment is necessary.
Progress continues to be made on the COVID-19 front in Westchester as well. The county’s active caseload on Sunday dropped to 648, a continuation of the sharp reduction that has been occurring for about the past two months.
County Executive George Latimer said COVID-19-related hospitalizations remained at 63 over the past week and there were no fatalities in the county for three consecutive days through Sunday.
Over the past 30 days, 27 Westchester residents have died from the virus, compared with 67 deaths in the 30 days prior and 103 during the 30-day time frame before that. Nearly 50 percent of the county is now fully vaccinated.
“We have to make the connection that the more people are vaccinated, the less likes they are to get the disease,” Latimer said.
For the first time on Monday, Latimer appeared at his twice-weekly briefings without a mask. The Centers for Disease Control has offered new guidelines stating that those who are fully vaccinated no longer have to wear a mask indoors in most situations.
However, anyone traveling on public transportation, visiting a homeless shelter, jail or any kind of health care facility must still wear a face mask in those facilities.
In Putnam County on Saturday, the last day where positivity data was available, there was just one positive case from 303 tests, a 0.3 percent rate. Putnam’s seven-day average stood at 0.6 percent as of Saturday.
For information on eligibility and vaccination sites, the public may call 1-833-697-4829 or visit https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/