Governor Andrew Cuomo says the economy cannot wait for every American to “roll up [their] sleeve” for the vaccine which may not hit critical mass until the second half of 2021.
How will New York use science and technology to open up safely? That’s what was on Cuomo’s mind as he made his final COVID-19 briefing of 2020 and that will include testing required before events that involve crowds as well as social distancing and mask regulations.
The state Department of Health will give this a try in partnership with the Buffalo Bills and the NFL in upcoming games in which the contact tracing will follow.
“We really have to take this seriously. We don’t want the fact that the Bills are in the playoffs, to wind up being a negative in terms of COVID,” Cuomo said. “So, no tailgating, no mass gatherings. That’s not what we want to see, and it’s not good for Buffalo, it’s awkward for Western New York and the last thing the Bills want to see. So let’s just be smart.”
The DOH will be enforcing measures before and after games enforcing a ban on tailgating and other requirements by removing bad actors from the venue. A documented negative test within 72 hours of the game will be required to attend games as well as another swab after the fact.
Fans will be separated by “boxes,” according to state Budget Director Robert Mujica.
With most rapid testing giving results back within 20 minutes, Cuomo hopes to expand the principles laid out in the DOH and NHL plan for reopening sports arenas to all businesses in New York.
“We can’t stay close down. But we have to be smart and we have to be safe. And that’s going to be the path for us to navigate. And that’s going to be the path all through 2021, I’m afraid. We have the vaccine, the vaccine is the weapon that will win the war, but it won’t win the war overnight,” Cuomo said. “And we’re going to have to deal with that period, get the vaccine as quickly as possible. Yes, slow the spread. Yes, but also find ways to start to reopen businesses by using testing that that is the smartest way forward.”
The infection rate has had an apparent increase after the holidays with the statewide numbers reflecting 8.66% including micro-clusters.
Governor Cuomo says there have been over 4,000 tests statewide for the new strain of COVID-19 from the United Kingdom believed to be 70% more transmissible, but unlike Colorado, New York has not discovered any confirmed cases yet.
Nonetheless, Cuomo is of the assumption that the new variation is already in New York.