Ski resorts in New York will be allowed to reopen at half capacity next month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday as he also posed a litany of questions about how a COVID-19 vaccine will be administered across the country.
Cuomo used most of his Sunday press conference to outline the massive undertaking of administering a potential vaccine, listing questions he and other governors have for the federal government about how a vaccination program will play out.
Cuomo indicated any rollout of a vaccine will prioritize essential workers and at-risk populations for the first available doses. Outlining the enormous task ahead, Cuomo said the vaccines may require two doses per person, totaling 40 million doses for everyone in the state; by comparison, the state has conducted just over 12 million COVID-19 tests in the past seven months.
The governor also released a 96-page document detailing the state’s plan for administering a vaccine but said many details remain to be worked out and called for the federal government to release more information about how the vaccine process would work across the country.
Joining with other governors in the National Governors Association, Cuomo released a letter outlining the vaccine questions of state’s chief executives. The group questioned whether federal funding will be available to states distributing the vaccine, how the uninsured will access the vaccine, how vaccine doses will be allocated to states, who will be prioritized for the vaccine, how will other critical supplies – needles, syringes, band aids – be distributed and much more. Cuomo said states need to start planning to distribute and administer a potential vaccine at the local level but can’t do so until there is greater clarity from the federal government.
“You need the answers to plan for what to do,” Cuomo said. “We don’t have enough of the answers.”
Cuomo also acknowledged vaccine distribution will be more than just a logistical challenge, highlighting concerns that will be widespread as vaccinations actually become available. He said the vaccine will be more intrusive than COVID-19 tests and that people will rightfully have questions about the efficacy and safety of a vaccine. Many New York residents have long resisted vaccine mandates, spurring protests and rallies at the state Capitol and state Education Department in recent years.
“Before people let you put a needle in their arm and inject something there are going to be serious questions,” Cuomo said.
The governor also announced that ski resorts in the state will be allowed to open Nov. 6 at 50 percent indoor capacity. Masks will be required at all times, except when eating, drinking or skiing, under the state rules. Social distancing requirements will limit ski lessons to no more than 10 people and require gondolas and lifts be limited to members of the same party. Outdoor capacity on the ski mountains must be reduced by 25 percent on “peak” days or if multiple trails are closed.
“[Opening ski resorts] will allow New Yorkers to have some outdoor activity this winter without having to quarantine when they come back,” Cuomo said, using travel restrictions in other states as a selling point for the New York’s ski resorts.