As the year draws to a close, the vaccination distribution program continues to ramp up with more priority groups added as supply becomes available. As the vaccination process continues to build in the weeks ahead, know that you can look to this newsletter as an accurate in-depth source for information and updates.
While the vaccine distribution gets underway, New Yorkers cannot get lax about COVID by any means. Hospitalizations continue to rise across the state and there is one message New Yorkers must remember as we approach the close of the holiday season—celebrating smart stops shutdowns. If we stay smart, stay tough and take the steps we know help halt the spread, we will get through this.
Photo of the Day: Today we announced the opening of the new Moynihan Train Hall in New York City, which opens to the public Friday, January 1st. I thank all our partners who helped get this major infrastructure across the finish line on time and on budget, despite the pandemic (Photo courtesy SOM).
Here's what else you need to know:
1. Total hospitalizations rose to 7,892. Of the 154,949 tests reported yesterday, 13,422, or 8.66 percent, were positive. There were 1,250 patients in ICU yesterday, up 26 from the previous day. Of them, 702 are intubated. Sadly, we lost 144 New Yorkers to the virus.
2. Buffalo Bills stadium will allow limited capacity for the first home playoff game. The State Department of Health, the NFL and the Buffalo Bills have come to an agreement to allow approximately 6,700 fans to attend the Bills' first home playoff game in 25 years. Every fan must test negative prior to attending the game, wear a mask and social distance, and there will be contact tracing following the game. Tailgating will remain banned.
3. Approximately 203,000 New Yorkers to date have received one COVID-19 vaccine dose. Next week, New York State will open vaccination criteria to ambulatory care health workers and public-facing public health workers, including those administering COVID-19 tests.
4. The Times Square New Year's Eve ball drop will be held virtually. This year, Times Square will be closed and there will be no crowds allowed in the area during the ball drop but the celebration to ring in the new year still goes on. The ball drop will be livestreamed online along with TV programming.
5. New York continues to monitor for the presence of the more contagious U.K. strain of COVID-19. The State Department of Health and private labs across the State have been analyzing genomic sequencing of COVID specimens since early spring, with more than 4,300 specimens sequences. We have yet to find the U.K. strain, but we are continuing to search.
"Deep Breath Moment": The mother of a Long Island teenager with special needs was able to pull off a Christmas miracle thanks to a total stranger. After searching without success for the gift her son wanted most—a sold-out Xbox—Jill Biblow turned to Facebook to ask if anyone she knew might be able to help her get one in time for Christmas. Hundreds of miles away, South Florida resident Kevin Danilo heard about the request from a friend, and sent Biblow a brand-new Xbox as a gift. His sole request was to pay the generosity forward. During this challenging year, it's "the small things showing that people care about us [that give] us the strength to dust ourselves off and keep going," he wrote to Biblow.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo