With Christmas and Kwanzaa coming up this week, followed by New Year's Eve, we all need to do our part to stop the spread. And we can do so by celebrating in different ways this year. This year I encourage New Yorkers to celebrate smart so the virus doesn't spread to the point where the hospital capacity is at risk. It's been a long year and I do hope New Yorkers celebrate the holidays—but please celebrate smart.
Photo of the Day: The illuminated Christmas Tree at Empire State Plaza in Albany, NY (Photo by Mike Groll)
Here's what else you need to know tonight:
1. New York's Wadsworth Laboratory has begun aggressive research of the new, more contagious COVID-19 strain discovered in the U.K. Already, Wadsworth has looked at more than 3,700 virus sequences identified in New York. It has yet to find the U.K. variant present in any of the random samples. Additionally, Wadsworth and the Department of Health have made agreements with six hospitals from across the State to obtain additional samples for further research and are making arrangements with other hospitals to do the same. If the variant is already here, we want to know, and we want to be able to aggressively trace it.
2. To date, 50,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered throughout New York. The state has received 630,000 doses thus far and expects to receive another 300,000 doses next week.
3. Virgin Atlantic has also agreed to require pre-departure COVID tests before passengers leave from the U.K. to New York. This is the third major airline to require a COVID-19 test before allowing passengers to board planes traveling from the United Kingdom to New York. I thank British Airways, Delta Airlines and Virgin Atlantic for this agreement.
4. Total hospitalizations rose to 6,661. Of the 164,868 tests reported yesterday, 9,716, or 5.89 percent, were positive. There were 1,126 patients in ICU yesterday, up 31 from the previous day. Of them, 614 are intubated. Sadly, we lost 139 New Yorkers to the virus.
5. It's important we continue our vaccination program through the holidays. With Christmas and Kwanzaa rapidly approaching, I call on hospitals, nursing homes, and medical personnel to continue providing vaccinations throughout the holidays to ensure nursing home patients and frontline health care workers are protected as quickly as possible.
Tonight's "Deep Breath Moment": Last night, stargazers and photographers looked up at the night sky to witness "The Great Conjunction," a celestial phenomenon where Saturn and Jupiter appear extremely close together in the sky. Also dubbed "The Christmas Star," an event of this caliber last occurred 800 years ago. The two planets won't appear this close together again until 2080.
Saturn and Jupiter with The Milky Way viewed from Thailand (Photo by Chakarin Wattanamongkol/Getty Images)
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo