NY eases rules as new COVID-19 cases drop

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On Monday, the statewide positivity rate was 2.94% and there were 44 COVID-19 deaths in New York state on Sunday.

The state recorded just under 43,000 new cases in the seven-day period that ended Sunday. That’s the lowest number for any seven-day stretch since Thanksgiving and down 25% since the last days in March.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is allowing more people inside museums, movie theaters and indoor sports arenas as the latest data suggests the state’s vaccination campaign is curbing COVID-19 infection levels..

Museums and zoos in New York can open up their doors to 50% of their normal capacity starting Monday, April 26, while movie theaters will expand to one-third of normal capacity. This, a step further in reopening the economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Low-risk, indoor and outdoor arts and entertainment - including museums, aquariums, zoos and botanical gardens - will increase to 50% capacity also beginning April 26… Beginning May 19, spectator capacity will increase to 25% at large-scale arenas, and event venues, including professional and collegiate sports, and major performances. Social distancing, masks, health screenings and all other health and safety protocols remain in effect,” reads a release.

Hospitalizations are also slowly dropping. Hospitals across New York reported about 3,800 patients with COVID-19 as of Sunday, down 14% from two weeks prior.

“The numbers are stable and going down so we can start to open up more economic activity,” Cuomo said.

On May 19, large indoor arenas with more than 10,000 seats can increase their capacity to 25%, up from the current 10% limit.

And the state’s chief judge ordered all judges and court staff to physically return to work in their assigned courthouses by May 24, a change that may help deal with a backlog of postponed trials.

New York had recorded among the nation’s highest levels of infections and hospitalizations in recent months and still ranks in the top third for most infections per capita.

The state has made great progress in vaccinations in recent weeks, but the majority of New Yorkers are still not protected. About 5.5 million of its roughly 19 million residents are fully vaccinated.

Some public health experts have worried that New York has been easing COVID-19 restrictions on indoor dining and gatherings too quickly. There are still hotspots for the virus. Hospitals in western New York reported 346 coronavirus patients as of Saturday, up from as low as 137 in mid-March.

State health officials haven’t offered any reason for the uptick in western New York, though Cuomo put the blame on human behavior.

“We don’t believe there’s anything that accounts for that than the variant in human behavior and the precautions people take,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo said his administration is not considering imposing restrictions again in western New York.

“But we do have to get it under control,” he added.

Oneida County

In Oneida County vaccination work continues.

“Vaccination appointments are currently available at multiple Oneida County-operated PODs, including new locations in Whitesboro and Holland Patent (Pfizer). To view the full list and to book an appointment please visit www.ocgov.net,” reads a Monday afternoon release.

According to the New York State Department of Health’s COVID-19 vaccine tracker (https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/covid-19-vaccine-tracker), as of midnight on April 18, there were 69,511 people in Oneida County who were fully vaccinated.

Also on April 18, there were 18 new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths in the county.

To see an updated Oneida County COVID-19 dashboard, visit: bit.ly/3amqPtc

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