New York is continuing to see a steady decline in Covid-19 cases, with the positivity rate at 4.23 percent as of Tuesday.
“The decline in our hospitalization and infection rates is all thanks to the dedication New Yorkers have time and again shown to defeating this invisible enemy,” said Governor Cuomo. “As our rates continue to decline, we are opening back up our economy and proving that vaccine distribution can be fair and equitable.”
The governor’s remarks have not sat well with some Rocklanders: some residents and local leaders have taken to social media to argue that vaccine allocations in the county are imbalanced.
“Can someone explain to me why NYS allocates COVID vaccines so disproportionately, with Ramapo providers getting 3,800 COVID-19 vaccines, Orangetown providers get 200 vaccines and Clarkstown providers get 100 vaccines?” said county legislator James Foley in a Facebook post.
While the legislator was quick to point out the discrepancy, it should be noted that 1,200 of those weekly doses are earmarked for the county Department of Health and 300 are reserved for Good Samaritan Hospital, major treatment centers for the entire county.
Refuah Health Center will receive a staggering 2,000 vaccines.
Although the state allocated more vaccines for facilities in Ramapo, any Rockland resident can make an appointment in those locations.
With the week 11 vaccines expected to arrive this week, the week 10 allocation is still being delivered after being pushed back by the winter weather.
About 10 million New York residents qualify for the vaccine. As of Tuesday, healthcare distribution sites administered 91 percent of first doses received from the federal government.
With the infection rate declining and vaccination rate increasing, recreational activities across the state are being permitted to reopen.
On Monday, Cuomo announced that statewide billiards and movie theaters can reopen with limited capacity on March 5. Weddings and catered events are scheduled to resume on March 15.
“Thanks to the hard work and commitment of all New Yorkers, our infection rate is now the lowest we’ve seen in three months, and accordingly we will now be reopening various recreational activities across the state including billiard halls, weddings and movie theaters in New York City,” said Cuomo. “As our infection rate continues to fall, and the vaccination rate continues to climb, we will keep reopening different sectors of our state’s economy and focus our efforts on building our state back better than it was before.”
Cuomo also announced Monday that on Feb. 26, nursing home guidelines would expand to allow in-person visitations. Visitor testing is required in counties with seven-day average positivity rates between 5-10 percent. For counties with averages below the five percent seven-day average, testing is not mandated, but highly encouraged.
Visitations will not be allowed if the county’s seven-day average positivity rate is above 10 percent.
Visitors must either present a negative PCR or rapid test within 72 hours of their visit, or the facility can utilize a rapid test to meet the requirement.
“One of the most devastating aspects of this virus has been how it separated families from their loved ones, making an already difficult situation even harder to bear,” said Cuomo. “Thanks to the dedication of New Yorkers, we’re now at a point where we can begin to resume nursing home visitations under strict guidelines to protect the health and safety of residents.”
The governor also announced sweeping nursing home legislation to increase transparency, hold nursing home operators accountable for misconduct, and help ensure that facilities are prioritizing patient care over profits.
“Every day, families across the state entrust the safety and health of their loved ones to nursing homes and as this unprecedented public health crisis has shown, some performed admirably, but some did not,” said Cuomo. “Facilities have put profits over care for far too long and as we look forward, we must learn from the past and prepare for the future. These facilities must be transparent and we have to have the tools necessary for holding bad actors accountable – that is the only way families will have peace of mind and I won’t sign a budget that doesn’t include these common-sense reforms.”
These reforms come in the wake of accusations that Cuomo underreported nursing home deaths and enacted policies that sent infected nursing home residents back to nursing facilities rather than hospitalizing them.