We're using the limited supply of vaccines as efficiently as possible and continuing to stop the spread of the virus and we're also focused on safely getting the economy back on track while safeguarding public health. The restaurant industry is the lifeblood of New York City and we are all too aware of the economic hardship they have endured at the hands of COVID. Thankfully, if our current trajectory holds, we will be able to reopen New York City dining at 25 percent capacity on February 14th, Valentine's Day. Additionally, other larger events that follow strict guidelines will be permitted beginning March 15th. We cannot become complacent now—we must all continue to do our part to keep beating back COVID. Our collective actions determine how quickly we can return to some of what we've missed throughout this pandemic.
Here's what else you need to know tonight:
1. COVID hospitalizations fell again to 8,357. Hospitalizations are down 916 from a peak of 9,273 on January 19th. Of the 270,518 tests reported yesterday, 12,579, or 4.65 percent were positive. There were 1,543 patients in ICU yesterday, down 41 from the previous day. Of them, 1,012 are intubated. Sadly, we lost 151 New Yorkers to the virus.
2. As we get more supply of the vaccine, new appointment slots are coming online at New York State vaccination sites. We are currently vaccinating eligible New Yorkers who are part of Phase 1a and 1b. See if you're eligible and schedule an appointment.
3. Effective March 15th, marriage receptions can be held under limited state guidelines. Events must be approved by the local health department and there will be mandatory testing of all guests before an event. Capacity at weddings and receptions will be limited to no more than 150 people or no more than 50 percent of the venue's capacity, whichever is lower. All patrons must be tested prior to the event. This upcoming change in guidelines follows the success of the Buffalo Bills program, which allowed fans to attend home games with mandatory testing.
4. As of 11am this morning, 95 percent of first doses allocated to the state have been administered. This represents 1,316,032 first doses administered of the 1,387,840 allocations received from the federal government. So far, 244,644 second doses have been administered out of 618,115 second doses received. See data by region on the State's Vaccine Tracker.
5. Due to extreme cold, the drive-thru vaccination site at Jones Beach will be suspended over the weekend. The polar vortex currently impacting the state is producing strong winds and dropping wind-chill levels to near zero, which creates safety concerns given the structure of the open-air tents currently being used at Jones Beach. Anyone scheduled for vaccination during these two days is being notified of the suspension via email and text message, and appointments will be rescheduled. The rescheduled appointments will take place beginning Sunday, January 31 and continue until Wednesday, February 3.
6. A reminder that New Yorkers should not be charged for Personal Protective Equipment by in-network health care providers under their state-regulated health and dental insurance coverage. Pursuant to State Department Financial Services guidance, insurers are required to make sure that consumers are not charged PPE-related fees by in-network providers. New Yorkers who have been wrongfully charged are eligible for a refund from their insurer. To date, the Department has recovered a total of $414,727 of PPE-related charges for more than 14,000 consumers since the start of the pandemic.
Tonight's "Deep Breath Moment": Tonight's Deep Breath Moment comes to us from across the country, where Oregon businesses are pooling together to give one million blankets to local homeless shelters by 2024. Bob Dalton, CEO of Sackcloth + Ashes, started this initiative to help the homeless in Portland during the winter season and has partnered up with local businesses to help. The partnership is about 20 percent of the way toward their commendable goal.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo