New York officials will develop a wintertime plan for the coronavirus pandemic that aims to expand hospital capacity, keep schools open and begin a distribution effort for the coming COVID-19 vaccine.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday in Rochester acknowledged it was inevitable COVID-19 cases will rise as many people plan to travel this year for the holiday as the virus is on the upswing in nearly every part of the country.
"We have tremendous increases statewide, here in Rochester, Monroe County, that have been going up through the fall," Cuomo said, adding Thanksgiving will be "an accelerant" for infections.
New York's positive rate in the last day stood at 3.6%, and 41 people were confirmed to have died of COVID-19 in the last day. There are now 2,982 people who are hospitalized due to the virus, an increase of 126 patients over the last 24 hours.
Hospitalizations have steadily risen in recent weeks, leading officials to open a field hospital on Staten Island.
"This is reminiscent of the bad old days," Cuomo said.
The winter COVID plan, as advised by global health officials, will focus on ensure the state has enough hospital space to handle the influx of COVID cases in the coming weeks. Cuomo also wants to ensure schools, which have a relatively lower transmission rate among children, will remain open, especially for kindergarten through eighth grade.
The third leg will be a vaccine distribution plan as pharmaceutical companies seek final approval from the federal regulators in the coming weeks. The governor is worried Black and Brown communities, as well as poor neighborhoods, will not have easy access to the vaccine once it is available.
"The current vaccine plan that's on the table is going to have to improve," he said.