New York marked another day of gains in bringing COVID-19 closer under control, with indicators not seen since November before a holiday season surge, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Thursday during a visit to the region.
He warned that the battle is far from over. As a sober reminder, another 45 people in the state died Wednesday of coronavirus-related causes.
The state registered a 2.06% positivity level from 242,432 test results on Wednesday, the lowest figure since Nov. 5, Cuomo said at a news briefing in East Rockaway.
"Yes, we are making progress. Yes, the vaccinations are going to win the war. But we’re not there yet," Cuomo said. "People are still dying from COVID."
The statewide seven-day average of positivity for the virus was 2.57%, while the figure on Long Island was 2.76%, both the lowest since Nov. 10.
For weeks Long Island's positivity level had hovered around or above 4%, seeing a substantial decline over the last week or so. There were a total of 540 COVID-19 patients in hospitals in both counties on Wednesday, the lowest figure since Nov. 30.
The number of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday was 277 in Nassau, 356 in Suffolk, and 2,198 in New York City.
On Wednesday, Cuomo announced that, starting Friday, New Yorkers 60 or older will be able to walk into some state-run vaccination sites, without an appointment, and get their shots.
The 16 sites accepting walk-ins include SUNY Old Westbury, Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood, the Javits Center in Manhattan, Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, York College in Jamaica, Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, and the Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said Thursday that the county's "aggressive" vaccination program is helping it curb the virus, with its daily positivity level dropping below the statewide average of 2%. COVID-19 hospitalizations in Nassau dropped to 279 on Thursday, a 66% decline from four months ago, she said.
In East End, farmworkers get a shot
In Peconic, a winery tasting room became a mass vaccination site as nearly 500 farmworkers got their first dose of the Moderna shot Wednesday and Thursday.
Farms across the East End brought their workers to Raphael Winery for the clinic, which vaccinated 211 people Wednesday and 245 people Thursday.
Doing so addressed logistical issues such as immigrant workers who may not have transportation or access to a computer to make an appointment. It allowed people without legal immigration status to get their shots without having to visit a site with a heavy police or National Guard presence, according to advocates.
Israel Garcia, 42, who works at Half Hollow Nursery in Laurel, rode a bus with about 15 co-workers to get his jab. Getting a shot at the site during the workday was just easier, the Guatemala native said through an interpreter.
"Here, they’re not losing time of production," said Carlos Ortiz, vice president of operations for Sun River Health, which operated the clinic.
The organization will return to deliver a second dose for those workers and is planning a similar event on the South Fork. The effort was coordinated with the Long Island Farm Bureau and Ithaca-based Cornell Cooperative Extension.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in December said agricultural workers should be prioritized for vaccine eligibility, while advocates had questioned why they were not authorized to receive shots earlier like other essential workers.
"They are the ones that produce the food that is on our tables, said Mary Jo Dudley, director of the Cornell Farmworker Program. "It was ironic that some of the farmworkers noted that they were less essential than other workers."
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