NEW YORK — Seventy percent of adult New Yorkers have now received at least one dose of COVID vaccine, triggering the end of many of the restrictions that have marked everyday life these past 15 months.
Health screening, social distancing, disinfection protocols, capacity limits and other requirements were removed effective Tuesday at most public places in New York, including offices, child care centers, gyms, restaurants and retail shops.
Masks are still recommended in some situations, and required in schools from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade, public transit and healthcare facilities, in line with federal guidance.
But on the whole it is a major demobilization of the preventative effort against COVID-19 in the state that has suffered the highest per-capita death rate in the nation.
“We went literally from worst to first,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said of New York state’s progress battling COVID. “We can now return to life as we know it.
“This is a momentous day and we deserve it.”
He noted that the vaccination campaign that brought New York state to this point has reached an important milestone but is not over.
New York based its decision on the most favorable metric: the federal Centers for Disease Control’s tally of adult New Yorkers at least partially vaccinated, which hit 70% late Monday or early Tuesday. New York state’s own tally of this group is 67.6% as of Tuesday.
Fully vaccinated New Yorkers make up just 49.6% of the state’s population of all ages.
The vaccination campaign has lost steam in parts of New York as it has nationwide: Just under 600,000 doses were administered statewide in the last seven days, well below the number being administered early this spring.
And the adult vaccination rate varies widely across New York’s 62 counties: Schenectady County is highest at 78.3%, while Fulton County is third-lowest at 50.7%
Among the state’s ten regions, the Capital Region is second-highest at 74.4% of adults with at least one dose of vaccine and the Mohawk Valley is lowest at 60.6%.
Nonetheless, New York is faring better than most other states on doses administered per-capita and is faring best among the states with more than 10 million residents.
Nationwide, 64.6% of American adults are at least partially vaccinated and 43.9% of Americans of all ages are fully vaccinated.
New York also has one of the lower per-capita rates of new infections, with just 320 new infections reported Monday, a positive test rate of 0.6%.
The daily death toll is down to single digits some days, and just 650 patients were hospitalized with COVID statewide on Monday, 32 of them in the Capital Region.
Here are the seven-day average positive test rates and percentage of population with at least one dose of vaccine in area counties:
- Albany 0.3% 63.8%
- Fulton 0.5% 42.1%
- Montgomery 0.0% 53.2%
- Rensselaer 0.3% 57.3%
- Saratoga 0.3% 63.3%
- Schenectady 0.4% 65.3%
- Schoharie 0.0% 46.9%
Cuomo’s announcement Tuesday was a happy and somewhat boisterous affair in a crowded room in New York City with dignitaries much closer than six feet from one another and hardly a mask to be seen, including on the governor himself.
The success of the infection-protection measures imposed over the past 15 months allowed them to be ended Tuesday, Cuomo said:
“We’re no longer just surviving. We’re not in our homes, afraid to go out. We’re not in our homes disinfecting everything that we can see. Life is not about survival. Life is about thriving. Life is about seeing people. Life is about loving. Life is about celebrating. Life is about enjoying, life is about interacting. And now we get back to living life. The state mandates that have proven right and correct and brought us through this pandemic are relaxed as of today, effective immediately.”
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