Young people in New York City will be able to get a free shot of alcohol outside some bars if they get a COVID-19 vaccination there, while horse racing fans will get a free ticket to next year's Belmont Stakes if they get inoculated in the run-up to this year's Triple Crown event, officials said Thursday.
It is all part of New York's campaign to get more people vaccinated amid declining numbers of inoculations, with the goal of wiping out the deadly virus.
Mobile vaccine buses are being parked outside New York City bars and clubs — with an offer of "a shot for a shot" — to encourage those aged 25 and younger to get inoculated, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
The buses will be brought in to try to lure more people to get the vaccine, the mayor said, especially so-called "zillennials" — a nickname for a generation loosely defined as being born between the Millennials and Generation Z.
As an added bonus, the mayor's son, Dante de Blasio, will be making an appearance and potentially DJing, the elder de Blasio said.
"We need to reach the youngest New Yorkers. And for zillennials, New Yorkers up to 25, we’re going to meet them where they are, and a lot of times that means meeting them at a nightlife venue, a bar, someplace popular for people to gather," the mayor said at his daily news conference.
Bushwick, Astoria, Inwood, the Lower East Side and the Fordham section of the Bronx already have hosted the buses. The mobile vaccine clinics were slated to be in downtown Brooklyn and the West Village on Thursday and Friday, he said.
"This will keep happening," de Blasio said, adding: "Some places are offering a shot for a shot. That’s a good option. Drink responsibly, of course."
On Wednesday, de Blasio said the city would begin a pilot program to inoculate schoolchildren at four middle schools in the Bronx, a program expanding to the other four boroughs in the coming days and weeks.
Watch a race, get a shot
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the state will open a new mobile pop-up vaccination site at Belmont Park to coincide with the 2021 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival on Saturday.
Fans who get vaccinated at the site will receive free general admission to the 2022 Belmont Stakes, he said in a statement.
The site will operate adjacent to the Clubhouse Entrance of Belmont Park on Friday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"This pop-up vaccination site that will operate during one of New York's most exciting annual events will encourage even more residents and families to get vaccinated with an exciting incentive — free admission to next year's Belmont Stakes," Cuomo said.
The state is partnering with Northwell Health and the New York Racing Association Inc. on the vaccination site in Elmont, which will use the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Later this summer, fans who present proof of vaccination using the state’s Excelsior Pass on the July 15 opening day at Saratoga Race Course in upstate Saratoga Springs will receive free grandstand general admission, Cuomo said.
Fans also will be able to present alternate forms of proof of vaccination, including paper forms such as their CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, to redeem the free ticket, Cuomo's office said.
In Nassau, County Executive Laura Curran touted the progress in vaccinations, with 75.3% of adults over 18 having received at least one shot. That figure for the 18-plus population was 67.9% in Suffolk County.
Curran also said Nassau's vaccination level for those adults is the highest percentage of any county in the state with a population greater than 200,000 people, and is well above the statewide figure of 65.5%.
The county also said that 92% of residents age 65 and up have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and that Nassau is reporting its lowest COVID-19 positivity rate since the beginning of the pandemic.
'Stunning' progress on virus numbers
COVID-19 indicators remained at record lows throughout New York, state data released Thursday showed.
The daily statewide average for positives from 128,002 COVID-19 tests completed Wednesday was 0.44%, while the seven-day average sat at 0.6%, Cuomo said.
The seven-day average was 0.56% on Long Island and 0.48% in New York City.
The number of new confirmed cases of the coronavirus was 33 in Nassau County, 43 in Suffolk County, and 269 in New York City.
Statewide, a total of 10 people died Wednesday of causes related to the virus, including one each in Nassau and Suffolk.
"COVID rates across the state have never been lower and hospitalizations are under 1,000 for the first time in 8 months, all while businesses are reopening and people are coming back together again," Cuomo said in a statement. "Our state is back."
De Blasio said Thursday that the city’s seven-day average shows a positivity rate of 0.81%, a continuing decline and marking the lowest recorded in the five boroughs since the pandemic began. The city and state measure positivity levels differently.
"It’s stunning. It’s stunning how much progress has been made," the mayor said.
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