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NY sees some progress after worst COVID-19 stretch since May

January 25, 2021 Karen Matthews and Marina Villeneuve, Associated Press

Winter has brought New York’s worst stretch of the coronavirus crisis since May, with at least 4,800 dead from COVID-19 in the past 30 days, according to state statistics. But in recent days, there have been signs of a possible turnaround.

Statewide, hospitalizations are flattening. Last week the state averaged around 13,300 new cases per day, down steadily from a seasonal peak of around 16,300 new infections per day just under two weeks ago.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that elective surgeries at hospitals in Erie County may now resume because of falling infection rates in parts of western New York. He said he plans to announce other changes to the state’s COVID-19 restrictions in several parts of the state Wednesday but didn’t offer specifics.

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It is likely too soon for the positive change to be the result of the vaccination campaign that began in late December. Only a small fraction of New Yorkers has gotten even one dose. A more likely cause is that the state is now past the surge of infections caused by people getting together with loved-ones over the winter holidays.

The pace of inoculations in the state, which had accelerated in January after a slow start, is likely to be more plodding for the near future until the nation ramps up vaccine production.

New York City could administer 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses a week if it had enough supply, but instead has been forced to put off opening planned mass vaccination sites as it waits for vaccine production to speed up, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.

“We have megasites like Citi Field and Yankee Stadium ready to go,” the Democratic mayor said at his daily coronavirus briefing. “We want to get those to be full-blown, 24-hour operations but we don’t have the vaccine.”

City officials had set a goal of giving 300,000 vaccine doses last week but were only able to give 200,000 shots because of a lack of supply, de Blasio said.


“Here you have New York City ready to vaccinate at the rate of a half million New Yorkers a week but we don’t have the vaccine to go with it,” de Blasio said. “A lot of other places in the country are ready to do so much more. We need our federal government to lead the way.”

De Blasio said it will be “a game changer” if U.S. officials approve the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for emergency use because that vaccine requires just one dose, unlike the two vaccines that have been approved in the United States. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines each require two doses, several weeks apart, for optimal effectiveness.

De Blasio said the city had 19,000 doses designated as first doses on hand as of Monday and expected to receive 107,000 more in the next few days — not nearly enough to supply all of the city’s planned vaccination sites.

He said 628,831 doses have been administered in the city since the beginning of the vaccination effort last month.


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