All New Yorkers eligible for COVID vaccine starting next week

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PHOTOGRAPHER:

ALBANY — The last restrictions on who can get vaccinated for COVID-19 in New York will end next week.

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The minimum age for vaccination for people without other qualifying factors drops to age 30 on March 30 and age 16 on April 6. And that’ll be everyone — the vaccines currently available are authorized only for those age 16 or older.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the change Monday, completing a rapid expansion in recent weeks that has made the number of people eligible to be vaccinated vastly greater than the number of doses available.

Cuomo explained recently that the strategy is to get these people in the queue now so that they’ll be in line when the vaccine supply radically increases, as is predicted to happen in April.

Just last week, he dropped to 50 the minimum age for vaccination for those without any other qualifying conditions such as medical problems, risky living situations and hazardous or essential jobs.

“Today we take a monumental step forward in the fight to beat COVID,” Cuomo said in a news release. “Beginning March 30, all New Yorkers age 30 or older will be able to be vaccinated, and all New Yorkers age 16 or older will be eligible on April 6, well ahead of the May 1 deadline set by the White House.”

Statewide as of Monday, 9.06 million doses of vaccine have been administered in New York, and 5.9 million New Yorkers have had at least one shot, or 29.6% of the state population.

In and near the Capital Region, the percentage of residents vaccinated ranges from 23.8% in Fulton County to 37.5% in Warren County.

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control indicates that about 28.5% of the U.S. population had received at least one dose of the vaccine as of Monday.

INFECTION RATES

Even as New York state vaccinates its residents at a rate of greater than 1 million doses a week, it continues to register some of the highest positive COVID test rates in the nation.

The CDC tallies New York City and the rest of New York state separately, as though they were two states. As of Monday, New York City was higher than all the states by a wide margin for new cases on a per-capita basis, and the rest of the state was sixth. All adjoining states are at or near the top of the list as well: New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Vermont.

The highest seven-day average positive test rate in or near the Capital Region on Sunday was in Montgomery County: 4.3%.

“We’re starting to see a little bit of a slight uptick,” Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort said Monday in his weekly update via Facebook Live. “I’m not completely worried about it but I definitely want to urge caution. Our Fulton and Montgomery County numbers are higher than the rest of the counties.”

It’s still a far cry from the post-holiday surge in January, he said — the county topped out at a 13.7% seven-day positive test rate on Jan. 10. The rate declined to 2.5% on March 17 and has been mostly increasing since then, fluctuating as high as 4.8% on March 25.

The seven-day average positive test rate in other area counties as of Sunday:

  • Albany 2.2%, up from a recent low of 1.6% Feb. 22.
  • Fulton 3.9% up from 2.7% March 14.
  • Rensselaer, 1.5%, up from 1.2% March 22.
  • Saratoga 3.0%, up from 2.1% March 13.
  • Schenectady 2.9%, up from 1.8% March 21
  • Schoharie 1.6%, fluctuating between 1.2% and 3.0% since Feb. 26.

All other Capital Region counties — Columbia, Greene, Warren and Washington — also are seeing upswings in their positive test rates in recent weeks. All other Mohawk Valley counties — Herkimer, Oneida, Otsego — are holding steady at very low positive rates.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

In other COVID news Monday:

  • St. Mary’s Healthcare in Amsterdam resumed limited visitation. Visitors can see inpatients from 1-5 p.m. daily at the Guy Park Hospital campus and 3-7 p.m. daily at the Acute Rehabilitation Unit on the Memorial Campus. Also, one person may accompany a patient to the Emergency Department. Conditions and requirements apply, and the protocol may be adjusted to reflect prevalence of COVID-19 in the region or other circumstances.
  • The official state COVID death toll reached 40,390 with 57 new deaths, all but eight of them residents of New York City or nearby counties. On a per-capita basis, New York City in the last seven days is second in the nation only to Kentucky in deaths, the CDC reported.
  • The number of COVID-positive patients in New York hospitals is holding steady. The patient census declined steadily from 9,273 on Jan. 19 to 4,486 on March 13 but has been slightly higher or lower each day since then; it stood at 4,575 Sunday, which is typically a slow day for discharges.

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