ALBANY — The state of emergency in effect in New York almost since the COVID-19 pandemic reached New York will end Thursday.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the announcement Wednesday, a week after he ended most restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the virus in New York.
The announcement came at the start of a lengthy and familiar recap of the state’s experiences over the last 16 months, since the first infection in New York was officially confirmed March 1, 2020.
Cuomo also made the point that New York has to be ready for the next health crisis, even as this one appears to be over.
“There will be another virus,” he said. “But the emergency is over. The state of emergency that I had declared expires tomorrow. It will not be renewed.”
Guidance by the federal Centers for Disease Control remains in effect, including mask requirements in public transit, healthcare and shelter settings, and for people who are not vaccinated. Local governments are still able, and are encouraged, to enforce mask regulations, Cuomo said.
The state of emergency declared March 7, 2020, was accompanied by an extensive expansion of power for Cuomo to act by executive order as the pandemic worsened its hold on New York.
Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers were infected and thousands died in the first surge in the spring of 2020, and again in the second surge of late autumn/early winter.
As of Tuesday, 2.1 million positive COVID tests and 42,942 deaths had been confirmed among New York’s 20 million residents, and the actual number of infections and deaths is believed to be higher.
But the signs of progress are many: Just 474 people were hospitalized with COVID in New York hospitals Tuesday; to date, 184,386 patients have been recovered to the point they could be discharged; only 310 positives were recorded Tuesday among 90,350 test results reported; just six new COVID-related deaths were reported; and 71.2% of adult New Yorkers have received at least one dose of vaccine.
As New York racks up progress, other states and nations have continuing problems with new infections, potentially posing a threat to New York’s progress.
And Cuomo noted that ending the state of emergency doesn’t mean COVID is over in New York — vaccination must continue, he said. Barely half of New Yorkers are fully vaccinated, leaving the state far short of herd immunity, the point at which the virus can no longer easily spread. And the rate of vaccination has fallen sharply, with only about a quarter of the total doses being administered daily now as were being administered two months ago.
A sharp disparity still exists for Black New Yorkers, who are vaccinated at a rate well below their percentage of the population. By contrast, white and Hispanic New Yorkers each are vaccinated at rates roughly equal to their percentage of the population and Asian New Yorkers are vaccinated at rates well above their percentage of the population.
Here are the seven-day positive COVID test rates and the percentage of adults with at least one dose of vaccine in area counties:
- Albany 0.4% 75.1%
- Fulton 0.3% 51.4%
- Montgomery 0.0% 67.0%
- Rensselaer 0.5% 68.5%
- Saratoga 0.7% 74.9%
- Schenectady 0.2% 79.4%
- Schoharie 0.5% 55.1%
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