ALBANY — New Yorkers as young as 60 years old will be able to get vaccinated starting Wednesday.
The move will add a million people to the pool of those eligible for the shot in New York, further stretching a supply of vaccine that already was inadequate for the roughly 10 million New Yorkers that were eligible for vaccination as of Tuesday.
The number of doses the federal government sends to New York the next two weeks will be unchanged, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday, but is expected to drastically increase in late March and early April.
So on Tuesday he announced the increased eligibility, and said the already huge network of vaccination sites would expand even further, with a new mass vaccination center at a location to be named in the Capital Region and nine others across the state.
Another change: Effective March 17, almost all types of vaccination sites will be allowed to vaccinate all categories of New Yorkers.
Cuomo previously had ordered that various types of vaccination sites — hospitals, county health departments, pharmacies, etc — concentrate their efforts on medical workers, essential employees and the elderly, respectively.
Starting March 17, pharmacy vaccination will be limited to the elderly and school teachers, but all other sites will be open to anyone who is eligible.
Also Tuesday, Cuomo announced that public-facing essential government employees, nonprofit workers and building services workers will be eligible for vaccination in New York starting March 17.
This includes public works employees, social service and child service caseworkers, government inspectors, sanitation workers, DMV workers, county clerk personnel and election workers.
“New York is marching forward expanding access to the COVID-19 vaccine, addressing underserved communities and getting shots in arms as we turn the tide in the fight against this virus,” Cuomo said in a news release.
He acknowledged that demand already far exceeds supply, even before this new expansion of eligibility, and urged New Yorkers to be patient.
As of Tuesday, vaccination in New York was limited to people age 65 or older; or working in a profession that is high-priority or high-risk; or living in certain group settings; or possessing a pre-existing medical condition that places them at particular risk of infection or complications.
The newly eligible age demographic — 60 to 64 years old — numbered roughly 1.07 million in New York in the 2010 census.
As of midday Tuesday, 3.87 million New Yorkers have received at least one dose of vaccine, or 19.4% of the population. Six of the eight Capital Region counties have a higher percentage of population vaccinated than the state as a whole, with Warren County leading the way at 27.1%.
The federal Centers for Disease Control ranks New York 29th among the 50 states in number of doses administered per-capita as of midday Tuesday.
But New York is the faring best among the states with more than 10 million residents, CDC data show — California, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Georgia and North Carolina all have administered fewer shots per-capita than New York.
In other COVID related news Tuesday:
- A key metric of the pandemic has halted its decline in much of New York in March — statewide positive test rates are largely unchanged in the past 10 days, hanging at 3.1% to 3.2% on the seven-day average. Meanwhile, the nation as a whole has continued the steady decline seen in January and February. If New York City and the rest of New York were two separate states, they’d now be second- and fifth-highest among the states for their per-capita daily case rate over the past week, CDC data show.
- The seven-day average positive COVID test rate stood at 2.0% in the Capital Region, virtually unchanged in the last two weeks, and stood at 1.5% in the Mohawk Valley, gradually declining from 2.0% over the last two weeks. At the county level, the current rates are Albany 2.1%, Fulton 3.9%, Montgomery 3.1%, Rensselaer 1.4%, Saratoga 2.3%, Schenectady 2.1% and Schoharie 1.5%.
- The official state COVID death toll reached 39,169 with 75 new deaths, including three in Schenectady County.
- Statewide, 4,877 people were hospitalized with COVID, including 101 in the Capital Region and 66 in the Mohawk Valley.
- Albany Medical Center, which has seen more than 3,000 COVID-positive patients in the past year and admitted about half of them, said its patient census is down to 27, and 12 of them are no longer infectious, just awaiting a clean test so they can be discharged.
- In the Capital Region, 241,351 people have received at least one dose of vaccine, an increase of 8,721 in 24 hours, and 118,660 have received a complete vaccine series, an increase of 1,852.