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New Yorkers reminded to 'celebrate smart' as COVID-19 cases keep rising

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo urged New Yorkers "to

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo urged New Yorkers "to stay Smart and Tough" as they celebrate the holidays to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Credit: Sipa USA via AP/Photographer Lev Radin

The number of new COVID-19 cases across New York continues to climb as officials warn a post-holiday surge could be looming if people don’t follow precautions.

There were 12,568 new cases reported on Wednesday, including 1,020 in Nassau County and 1,330 in Suffolk County. Since the pandemic started earlier this year, 891,270 confirmed cases have been reported in the state.

Close to 7,000 people were hospitalized in the state with COVID-19 on Wednesday.

"We have nine days left in the holiday season and today, 299 days into the COVID crisis, it is more important than ever for New Yorkers to stay Smart and Tough," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement released Thursday.

"We are rapidly distributing the vaccine to the most vulnerable New Yorkers and front-line heroes, but COVID continues to spread at high rates throughout the nation, and we cannot let our guard down even for a moment," Cuomo said. "The holiday season is normally a time for celebration, but this year is different — we must celebrate smart, and not allow COVID to be the Grinch that results in increased viral spread as a result of the holidays."

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran echoed those sentiments in a statement where she urged residents "to continue using common sense this holiday season."

The positivity rate, based on 226,296 tests, was 5.6% overall for the state, 6.5% on Long Island and 4.6% in New York City.

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The state recorded 129 additional deaths from coronavirus-related causes on Wednesday. Eight of the deaths were people in Nassau, and 15 were in Suffolk.

Vaccinations of health care workers, nursing home workers and patients, as well as EMTs and other front-line workers, are continuing. Cuomo said more than 89,000 people in New York had received the vaccine as of Wednesday. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires two shots about 21 days apart, and the Moderna vaccine requires two doses about 28 days apart.

The Centers for Disease Control of Prevention said more than 1 million people have been vaccinated across the U.S. and more than 9.4 million doses have been distributed.

Concerns about a new COVID-19 variant in the United Kingdom has led to more restrictions on passengers flying to the U.S. Experts believe the new variant could be easier to transmit.

Beginning next week, United Airlines travelers to Newark Liberty International Airport from the United Kingdom will have to show a negative COVID-19 test, according to an announcement made Thursday by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and the airline.

The restriction doesn't apply to travelers originating from outside the U.K. who connect to a Newark-bound flight at London's Heathrow Airport. Passengers can take a same-day, rapid test at Heathrow.

Earlier this week, Cuomo urged the federal government to institute testing requirements for any flights coming from the U.K. to the U.S.

British Airways, Delta and Virgin Atlantic, the three airlines that fly from the U.K. to New York, agreed to have passengers take COVID-19 tests before boarding, Cuomo said.

Nationwide, another 228,131 people were confirmed to have COVID-19, according to data issued Thursday by the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine's Coronavirus Resource Center, bringing the total since the pandemic started to 18.5 million. The count of coronavirus-related deaths is 327,853, including an additional 3,359 added Thursday.

The largest number of new daily cases, according to the center, were found in California, Texas, New York, Florida and Pennsylvania.

With AP

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