In his first press conference after the holiday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that there were now over 7,500 coronavirus hospitalizations in New York, the highest level since the state’s gruesome May. New York has reported at least 100 new COVID-19 deaths per day for close to two weeks now, a trend that is expected to continue, as deaths have followed hospitalization spikes throughout the pandemic.
While New York’s positivity rate jumped several points — from 5.9 percent on Saturday to 8.3 percent on Sunday — that growth could be related to a decrease in testing over the long Christmas weekend. Still, the small surge is still concerning, as New York City’s seven-day rolling average came close to 7 percent for the first time since May as well. “There is nothing pre-ordained here,” Cuomo said on Monday, encouraging New Yorkers to stay vigilant during the New Year’s celebration this Thursday. “What will happen will be a consequence of our actions — a year where we felt out of control, we’re actually in ultimate control because we control the spread of the virus.”
In the press conference on Monday, Cuomo also announced that 140,000 New Yorkers have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The state is expected to receive another 139,400 doses from Pfizer and 119,600 for Moderna this week. The priority populations eligible for early vaccination have also been expanded to include “urgent care center employees, individuals administering COVID-19 vaccines, including local health department staff, and residents of the Office of Addiction Services and Supports’ congregate facilities.”
There’s already been some notable road bumps in the vaccination effort. On December 26, the New York Health Department announced that a New York City–based provider called ParCare Community Health Network was under criminal investigation because it “may have fraudulently obtained”
vaccine doses and distributed them to the public on a first-come-first-serve basis without regard for the state’s priority plan. The investigation will be led by the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James.
With the second coronavirus stimulus providing eligible Americans with $25 billion in rental assistance, New York legislators voted in a special session on Monday to ban most evictions in the state, as the existing moratorium expires on December 31. Under the new rule, landlords cannot evict most tenants for two more months, though tenants would owe landlords back rent once the moratorium ends.