We're in a footrace between the vaccination program and the growing spread of COVID. So far, 89,000 New Yorkers have received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose. 22,000 New Yorkers received their first dose at 90 nursing home facilities, during just the first two days of a federal-private partnership program in which New York is participating. As we continue to roll out the vaccine, I remind all New Yorkers to stay vigilant, especially over the holidays—wear a mask, social distance, continue to wash your hands. Celebrate smart. Happy holidays, New York.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: The Coronavirus newsletter will not publish tomorrow, December 24th, or Friday, December 25th. We will resume on Monday, December 28th.
Photo of the Day: A boy picks out a toy as part of New York State's annual holiday toy and coat drive. I thank donors for their help in distributing more than 7,300 toys, coats and school supplies across the state. (Photo by Don Pollard)
Here's what else you need to know tonight:
1. Total hospitalizations rose to 6,864. Of the 204,361 tests reported yesterday, 11,937, or 5.84 percent, were positive. There were 1,166 patients in ICU yesterday, up 40 from the previous day. Of them, 633 are intubated. Sadly, we lost 164 New Yorkers to the virus.
2. The State is working on a plan to allow fans to attend the Buffalo Bills' first home playoff game in more than two decades under strict COVID-19 protocols. Under the proposal, which is being developed cooperatively between the Bills and the State Department of Health, fans in attendance would be required to receive a negative COVID-19 test result before being allowed into the stadium and contact tracing would be conducted after the game.
3. The Department of Financial Services issued guidance that will help expand New York's hospital capacity. DFS is directing insurers to suspend certain preauthorization and administrative requirements to help hospitals implement New York's "surge and flex" protocol. With today's action, hospitals will be able to quickly transfer patients between hospitals, better balance patient load and more.
4. The New York State Department of Health has authorized the use of extra doses that have been found in Moderna vaccine vials. We have learned that many 10-dose vials of the Moderna vaccine have enough of the vaccine for 11 doses. (The Pfizer vaccine, similarly, found to have extra doses.) The Department of Health issued guidance on administering these extra doses.
Tonight's "Deep Breath Moment": The legendary Charles W. Howard of Albion, NY, who was one the most famous Santa Claus portrayers in history, will have a road in his hometown named in his honor. Howard, who died in 1966, took up the red-and-white mantle (and beard) after being dissatisfied with existing Santa Claus performers. He started at local department stores and later opened the first Santa School in Albion, where he taught hundreds of Santa's helpers to look, dress and act like elves—helping spread the season's cheer to countless children. He played Santa for 18 years in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and even consulted on the 1947 holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo