Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday said the state's overall...

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday said the state's overall rate of new COVID-19 cases continues a downward trend.   Credit: Office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo / Mike Groll

The rate of new COVID-19 cases statewide continues to fall after a post-holiday bump but Long Island still has New York's highest seven-day average of positive tests, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Sunday.

There were 12,720 new positive cases of COVID-19 reported to the state on Saturday out of 249,955 test results for a daily positivity rate of 5.09%, Cuomo said in a statement. That figure includes 1,069 new cases in Nassau and 1,117 in Suffolk.

Long Island's seven-day average was 6.99% on Saturday, the highest of any region in the state, just above mid-Hudson's 6.85% and 6.74% in the capital region.

Meanwhile, the demand for vaccines in New York far outnumbers the doses that have been coming in from the federal government, Cuomo and other officials have repeatedly pointed out. While there is a large network of vaccination sites, several centers have shut down periodically due to lack of supply.

On Sunday, the state was poised to receive the rest of its week 6 allocation from the federal government, state officials said. The new allotment for week 7 is not expected until the middle of this week.

The governor continued an effort to reach out to communities of color, where many have expressed reluctance to get vaccinated despite being hit hard by the pandemic.

In pretaped remarks aired during services Sunday at houses of worship with large numbers of Black congregants — Bethany Baptist Church in Brooklyn, Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Rochester and The People’s AME Zion Church in Syracuse — Cuomo urged those watching to trust the vaccine.

Echoing remarks he made Saturday at a public housing residence in Brooklyn, Cuomo said the pandemic exposed racial injustices in America, noting that Black people are twice as likely as white people to die from the virus.

"The COVID beast is still among us," Cuomo said in his pretaped remarks. "We now have a vaccine that will save lives, but it will only save lives if we take it."

Vaccines will be offered through churches, public housing, community groups and other ways to make sure they are equitably distributed, he said. Vaccine kits are being sent to eight additional churches and four New York City Housing Authority sites in an effort to vaccinate about 3,000 senior citizens and others eligible.

Two of those churches are on Long Island: Memorial Presbyterian Church in Roosevelt and St. Hugh of Lincoln Catholic Church in Huntington Station. The pop-up vaccination centers will open on Tuesday and appointments are being handled by the churches.

Both of the two COVID-19 vaccines currently approved require two doses. The Pfizer-BioNTech shots need to be administered about 21 days apart, and the Moderna vaccine about 28 days apart.

New York has received 1.3 million first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and administered 1.1 million as of Sunday, according to the state. Long Island has received 149,370 first doses and 144,508 have been administered though state and county sites, pharmacies and other centers.

More than 8,600 people are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19 across the state and 160 New Yorkers died due to COVID-19 on Saturday, state figures show. Patients in Nassau accounted for 11 of those deaths and 13 were in Suffolk.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said in a statement over the weekend: "The Nassau County Department of Health has been busy getting shots into arms as quickly as they arrive, and I will keep pushing for more vaccines until every resident who wants a vaccine is able to get it.""

Officials of the Lindenhurst School District informed parents Sunday that the Albany Avenue Elementary School will switch to all-remote learning on Monday because of the number of staff members who have been told to quarantine.

Overall, more than 1.3 million people in New York have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic started and 34,069 have died. The number of positive cases across the United States has topped 25 million, according to the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University of Medicine and over 419,000 U.S. deaths have been attributed to the disease.

Concerns about COVID-19 variants that are spreading overseas are prompting President Joe Biden to enact a new travel ban and revive an old one, according to published reports.

On Monday, Biden is expected to announce a new travel ban on most non-U.S. citizens who want to enter the United States and have recently traveled to South Africa. It could start as soon as Saturday. The news was first reported by Reuters.

He is also expected to reimpose a ban on most non-U.S. travelers from Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom and 26 other European countries that allow travel across open borders. Before he left office last week, former President Donald Trump took action to end the ban on non-U.S. citizen travelers from Europe and Brazil.

With Vera Chinese and The Associated Press.

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