Since Dec. 1, more than 4,000 people in New York have been hospitalized due to COVID-19. For months, the hospitalization rate seemingly plateaued in the state amid a surge in virus cases during the winter. 

On Thursday, the number of COVID-related hospitalizations finally fell to 3,963 people, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office on Thursday announced. 

Hospitalizations can vary day to day based on COVID cases and are, in many respects, a lagging indicator. State officials over the winter were concerned the state's health care system could once again be overwhelmed by a rise in COVID cases.

New York's positivity rate on average over the last seven days stood at 3.05% and was 2.76%, the lowest since late November. Forty-six people were confirmed to have died of COVID-19 in the last day. 

New York COVID cases spiked over the winter and the state was one of the nation's hotspots entering the springtime. 

Pandemic-related restrictions are starting to ease as more people are also vaccinated. About 26% of the state's population has now been fully vaccinated.

"Washing hands, staying appropriately socially distanced and wearing masks are important things each of us can do to slow the spread," Cuomo said. "New York State is opening more vaccination sites and expanding eligibility for the vaccine to get more shots in arms, faster. This has been an incredibly trying time for all New Yorkers, and I know COVID fatigue is setting in, but we can't give up fighting this virus until we reach the light at the end of the tunnel."