ALBANY — The number of statewide hospitalizations has dropped below 9,000 and the rate of new hospitalizations has dropped to the lowest level since early December, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Friday.
The 8,846 patients hospitalized as of early Friday is down by 400 over the two days, after consistently rising since early December. The statewide positive-test rate has dropped to 5.65, which the governor called “very good news.”
“Positivity and hospitalizations are both down, which is good news, but it in no way means we’re out of the woods,” Cuomo said.
But while cheering those developments, Cuomo spent most of his Friday press briefing explaining that vaccinating the 7.1 million New Yorkers now eligible will be a long process, even if the number of doses received from the federal government increases. From late December to date, about 1.3 million doses have been given.
Going by new President Joseph Biden’s goal of providing 1 million inoculations per day nationally during his first 100 days in office, Cuomo said if those doses were distributed based on each state’s population, New York would receive 420,000 doses per week. While that would be an increase from the 250,000 doses the state now receives, he noted it was still far short of demand.
At that rate, he said, it would take 17 months to vaccinate everyone now eligible.
“This is going to be a long several months in distribution of this vaccine and the anxiety that has been created,” Cuomo said.
With nursing home residents and staff essentially completed, Cuomo said those eligible now include 1.3 million healthcare workers, 1.7 million essential workers, and 3.2 million people over age 65. The available doses are then distributed proportionally among the state’s regions and proportionally again among the eligible groups, with no region or group receiving all the vaccine it needs.
“I understand the stress level, but at least we are able to say it is fair,” Cuomo said.
Each group is also assigned to different vaccine providers. Health care workers are to be vaccinated through hospitals or health care centers, essential workers, from police officers through food service workers, by city and county health departments, and members of the general population over age 65 through pharmacies and mass distribution sites.
Cuomo acknowledged some people are skeptical about the vaccines, but said the state’s own medical review — separate from the federal review — found the vaccines now on the market “effective and safe.”
While demand still outstrips supply, Saratoga Hospital and the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce have launched a promotional campaign to encourage vaccination, with Chamber President Todd Shimkus saying getting people vaccinated is the most effective way to return the country to economic normalcy.
“Getting people vaccinated is the most important thing we can do right now to speed up the safe and full reopening of our local economy,” Shimkus said. “Many local businesses are struggling as restrictions imposed upon them to stop the spread of COVID 19 must remain in place. We see this campaign as part of our effort to Save Our Locals.”
Locally, the governor’s office said on Friday that there were 833 new cases reported in Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga, Rensselaer, Fulton, Montgomery and Schoharie counties — up from 760 reported on Thursday.
Among the 165 deaths reported statewide, there were nine in the region: three in Albany County, two in Saratoga County, and one each in Schenectady, Fulton, Schoharie, and Rensselaer counties. Since the start of the pandemic last March, there have now been 734 deaths among residents of the seven counties — most of them since last fall.