New York will opt in to a federal vaccine distribution program for the state's nursing home residents and staff, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday said. 

People living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities will be at the top of the list to receive the first 170,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer when it arrives in New York on Dec. 15. 

"Nursing homes and high risk health care workers, they are up at the top of the list of prioritized people to get the vaccine," Cuomo said in a conference call. 

The vaccine progress comes as New York's COVID positive rate as well as the number of people in hospitals has continued to increase. In the last day, 5.4% of COVID-19 tests came back positive and there are now 159 more people hospitalized due to the virus, Cuomo said, as hospitalizations have surpassed 4,000 patients. 

Sixty people have died of COVID-19 in the last day, he said. 

New York is playing close attention to hospitalization rate on a regional basis, adding metrics like bed capacity, ICU capacity and staffing to whether more restrictions will be put in place for an area. 

A sharp increase in hospitalizations in Western New York, for example, has ended elective surgeries in hospitals there for the time being. 

Nevertheless, Cuomo pointed to the shorter on average hospital stays for people, which have fallen from 11 days in the spring to five. 

The most encouraging news is the death rate from people going into the hospital is lower from the spring, Cuomo said.