Today’s Governor Cuomo Press Briefing took place at the State Capitol. The Governor was joined by:
· Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor;
· Robert Mujica, Budget Director;
· Dr. Howard Zucker, NYS Department of Health Commissioner;
· Elizabeth Garvey, Special Counsel and Senior Advisor to the Governor; and
· Gareth Rhodes, Deputy Superintendent & Special Counsel at NYS Department of Financial Services.
· COVID-19 DATA FROM 2/14:
· Statewide Positivity Rate: 3.53%
· Seven-day Average Positivity Rate: 3.74%
· Test Results Reported: 180,504
· Current Hospitalizations: 6,623 (+30)
· Patients Currently in ICU: 1,270 (-15)
· Patients Currently Intubated: 875 (-6)
· Deaths: 103
· Total NY Pandemic Deaths: 37,221
· REGIONAL HOSPITALIZATION AND SEVEN-DAY AVERAGE POSITIVITY RATES:
- Capital Region
§ 248 hospitalized
§ 2.34% positivity rate
- Central New York
§ 129 hospitalized
§ 1.67% positivity rate
- Finger Lakes
§ 325 hospitalized
§ 2.31% positivity rate
- Long Island
§ 1,115 hospitalized
§ 4.62% positivity rate
§ 688 hospitalized
§ 4.53% positivity rate
- Mohawk Valley
§ 140 hospitalized
§ 2.23% positivity rate
- New York City
§ 3,476 hospitalized
§ 4.47% positivity rate
- North Country
§ 68 hospitalized
§ 3.98% positivity rate
- Southern Tier
§ 154 hospitalized
§ 0.82% positivity rate
- Western New York
§ 280 hospitalized
§ 3.25% positivity rate
· POST-HOLIDAY SURGE: Today marks the 38th straight day of decline in the statewide seven-day average COVID-19 positivity rate. Additionally, the number of patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 continues to decrease.
· NEW VARIANTS: The Governor announced there is a patient in a New York City hospital who has tested positive for the South African variant. The patient, who is not a New York State resident, was transferred from Connecticut directly to the New York City hospital for a procedure. There is no evidence at this time of any spread of the South African variant in New York State.
· VACCINE: New York has administered a total of 3,206,914 vaccinations statewide, including 2,199,688 first doses and 1,007,226 second doses. Over one million New Yorkers are now fully vaccinated.
· VACCINE DISTRIBUTION: The National Vaccine Distribution System has grown to include many different types of distribution points receiving vaccines through a complex allocation scheme. The Governor indicated that while this system results in many different options for individuals to find a distribution site, it also causes confusion. Since there is currently a low supply of vaccines, the system can be frustrating. However, as supply increases, the large amount of distribution points will help maximize the number of dosages that can be administered as quickly as possible.
- Today, the National Governor’s Association sent a letter to President Biden asking for there to be coordination between the Federal Government and the states on the direct vaccine allocations to pharmacies and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). The letter can be found here.
· METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY (MTA): Patrick Foye, Chairman and CEO of the MTA, and Sarah Feinberg, Interim President of the New York City Transit Authority, joined the briefing via teleconference. Chairman Foye addressed the violence over the weekend in the New York City transit system which impacted four total victims and resulted in two fatalities. Chairman Foye has asked New York City for an additional 1,000 New York Police Department (NYPD) officers to be assigned to patrol the subways and mass transit systems.
- Chairman Foye announced that the MTA is pursuing a goal of beginning a phased reopening of the New York City subway system starting on Monday, February 22nd. Subways have been closed from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. since May 6th to facilitate deep cleaning protocols. Under the new plan, subways will stay open until 2:00 a.m. and reopen at 4:00 a.m. During the close-down period, the subway trains and stations will continue to undergo deep cleaning and sanitation protocols to protect passengers from COVID-19.
· RECREATIONAL ADULT-USE CANNABIS: Governor Cuomo announced that he will submit amendments this week to the proposed adult-use cannabis program that was included in the Executive Budget. Since authorizing an adult-use cannabis program is seen as a controversial topic, Governor Cuomo stated that the issue needs to be settled as part of the State Budget. If it is not settled as part of the budget, the Governor predicted it will not get done at all, which he believes would be a mistake.
· EMERGENCY POWERS: Governor Cuomo addressed recent calls for the revocation of the emergency powers that were authorized by the legislature in order to combat COVID-19. The Governor stated these powers have nothing to do with nursing homes and that he has taken hundreds of actions and not one has been reversed by the Legislature. He said these decisions are made for the public health, and should not be made through politics or at the local level.
- A reporter asked the Governor for a reaction to reports that some lawmakers have suggested using subpoenas and a revocation of the emergency powers as leverage in budget negotiations. Governor Cuomo said it is a crime to threaten subpoenas or an investigation to gain leverage over a person. This would be an abuse of process and extortion.
· NURSING HOMES: Governor Cuomo addressed the ongoing discussion of the State’s handling of nursing home residents during the pandemic. The Governor said that losing a loved one is very painful and providing facts for grieving families is essential. Over the past year this issue has been distorted by politics. Below is a timeline of events laid out by the Governor:
- The Governor stated that New York State voluntarily complied with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) request for information. Meanwhile, the State paused the request for information from the State Legislature while they complied with the Federal request. He stated that staff in both Houses of the Legislature were informed that the DOJ request would be given preference.
- Governor Cuomo stressed that throughout the pandemic New York State has consulted with the leading medical experts from around the globe. All deaths in nursing homes and hospitals were fully, publicly, and accurately reported. However, lessons were learned as the State navigated the pandemic and hospital and nursing home care must be improved before the next surge or pandemic.
- In his 30-day amendments, due by Thursday February 18th, the Governor stated he will include reforms to the private hospital and nursing home systems. These reforms will focus on “for-profit” nursing homes. According to the Governor, there is tension in these facilities between patient care and profit.