Created: June 08, 2021 12:15 AM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — New York state has a new goal as it racks up success in fighting the coronavirus.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that almost all of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted once 70% of adult New Yorkers have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
"We hit 70%, we will be back to life as normal," Cuomo declared during a Monday briefing. “The light at the end of the tunnel is to remove the remaining COVID restrictions. Get to a point where COVID is not inhibiting our society, not inhibiting our growth.”
Cuomo says that magic number will mean lifting virtually all of the state's COVID-19 restrictions.
Right now, just under 68.6% of adult New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose, and hitting 70% will be the key milestone.
"Then we can lift the capacity restrictions, social distancing, the hygiene protocols, the health screenings, the potential tracing,” he explained. “Masks will only be required as recommended by the CDC."
"That's a great goal," a cautious Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza said. "I think we need to wait and see what things look like when we are at 70%."
He’s holding off on celebrating because when it comes to the potential spread of different versions of the virus, things could change between now and when the state reaches that goal.
"Right now, we are looking to be in very good shape,” Mendoza said. “If it was 70% today, I wouldn't have any concern about it. But, it depends upon when we get to 70% and what the landscape, if you will, of the variants in the COVID virus are at that time."
Another obstacle is areas with extremely low vaccination rates. Across the state, of the 11 zip codes with the lowest percentages, two are in the city of Rochester — places where, even with the current easy access to the shots, people still aren't getting them.
“We’ve known that those were going to be a challenge from the start,” Mendoza said.
Officials say pushing those areas over those crucial thresholds will take intense work.
"Focus on the places that have low vaccination rates," Cuomo said.
"We've had large vaccination sites that have not served the needs of people in those communities,” Mendoza added. “We have to think a little more creatively. We have to go door to door literally.”
One of the 11 new pop-up vaccination sites for the areas with lower vaccination rates is at the Greater Harvest Baptist Church. The site opens Friday, June 11.
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