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Despite incentives, COVID-19 vaccinations plummet in NY

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, seen at a Manhattan

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, seen at a Manhattan news conference Thursday, continues urging New Yorkers to get vaccinated. Credit: Pool / AP / Mark Lennihan

The number of COVID-19 vaccinations in New York continued to decline this week, while the seven-day rate of New Yorkers testing positive for the virus fell to its lowest level since the pandemic began, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office said Saturday.

In the 24 hours ending 11 a.m. Saturday, there were just over 76,000 vaccine doses administered statewide, less than half the nearly 169,000 given in a 24-hour period three weeks ago, state data shows. The number administered in the past week also plummeted, to roughly 612,000 doses, from more than 1.1 million during the first week of May.

The fall in vaccinations is occurring despite pop-up sites in places like Long Island Rail Road and New York City subway stations, and an array of incentives that include Yankees and Mets tickets, free alcoholic drinks, and $20 lottery tickets with a top prize of $5 million.

In addition, on May 12, kids 12 to 15 became eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Vaccinations are the chief reason — the generally warmer weather being another — why the state's seven-day positivity rate fell to a record low 0.73%, said Dr. Leonard Krilov, an infectious disease specialist and chief of pediatrics at NYU Langone Hospital-Long Island in Mineola.

If enough people remain unvaccinated, the positivity rate could again increase, especially in the fall, when people begin spending more time indoors amid relaxed restrictions, he said.

"It leaves more window for the virus to come back," Krilov said, although, with so many New Yorkers vaccinated, it would likely be a less severe outbreak than several months ago or spring 2020. "There would still be enough susceptible people around for a potential third bump."

And the more people who remain unvaccinated, the higher the chance that more infectious virus variants will emerge, he said.

As of Saturday morning, 53.3% of the state's residents — and 64.9% of adults — had received at least one dose, the state reported.

Sixty-one percent of all Nassau County residents had received at least one dose, as had 54.7% of all Suffolk residents.

In a statement, Cuomo urged New Yorkers to get inoculated.

"The COVID vaccine is the weapon that will win the war, and the faster everyone takes it, the faster we defeat this beast and return to normal," he said.

The 0.73% seven-day positivity rate was part of a monthslong trend of declining infection numbers. The one-day rate, which on Thursday reached a record low of 0.57%, rose slightly to 0.62%. Health officials typically focus on the seven-day rate because it smooths out daily anomalies.

On Long Island, the seven-day positivity rate dropped on Friday to 0.62%, down from 0.64% on Thursday.

On Friday, for the fourth time in the past week, not a single Long Islander died of COVID-19. Twelve people died statewide. There were 1,143 hospitalizations, 26 fewer than the previous day.

Statewide, 870 test results came back as positive on Friday, out of 140,392. That included 37 positives in Nassau and 60 in Suffolk.

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