Public schools in New York City will start to vaccinate students in the Bronx on Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday, with an expansion of the in-school vaccination program to all five boroughs next week.
Gov. Cuomo expressed interest in the idea Wednesday afternoon for public schools statewide at a coronavirus briefing in Manhattan.
“It is up to a school district if they want to do vaccines in school,” the governor said at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. “I think it’s smart. Many are doing it or are planning to do it. Do everything we can, right? Just do everything you can do.”
Officials on the state’s Coronavirus Task Force have requested updated guidance from U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention about its continued recommendation for school students to continue to wear masks or facial coverings.
“We follow the CDC guidance, and it’s very rare we differ with the CDC,” Cuomo said. “The mask mandate outside for students seems a little extreme to me and we’re talking to the CDC about it.”
About 9.5% of New Yorkers ages 12 to 17 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, Cuomo said, and remains the priority age group to inoculate against the novel coronavirus.
The state recently started a public advertising campaign targeted to vaccinating young New Yorkers after health experts on the state’s Clinical Advisory Task Force recommended Pfizer-BioNTech’s two-dose shot for 12- to 15-year-olds May 12. The shot was initially approved for residents ages 16 and older.
The first 10 winners were selected Wednesday from 12- to 17-year-olds who entered the state’s Get a Shot To Make Your Future program for a chance to win a full scholarship to a State University of New York or City University of New York campus for up to four years of full-time undergraduate or an approved five-year bachelor’s degree program for getting their first COVID vaccine doses.
The winners include Jack McAuliffe, of Clinton County; Chase French, of Monroe County; Jack Lucchesi, of Ontario County; Peter Smith, of Onondaga County; and Adam Judson, of Albany County. The other five winners were selected from New York City, Long Island and the surrounding downstate metropolitan counties.
“Congratulations to them and congratulations to their parents, as a parent, because funding college is a nightmare for families all across America,” Cuomo said.
Teens must enter the random drawing online at forms.ny.gov/s3/Get-A-Shot-To-Make-Your-Future-Registration to participate in the Get A Shot To Make Your Future program, which ends June 30.
Drawings will take place each Wednesday for four more weeks, or 40 additional free rides. Eligible teens who entered the raffle will remain in the pool for the duration of the program as a chance to win.
“Come and get a vaccination, which you should do anyway, and you will be eligible for a raffle,” the governor added. “The raffle is the cherry on the cake, as far as I’m concerned, it’s something smart that you should do anyway.”
About 57.3% of New Yorkers over the age of 18 are fully vaccinated against COVID, with 65.5% of state adults receiving at least one dose to date.
Cuomo held Wednesday’s COVID-19 update in the Javits center to reflect on the pandemic’s trajectory.
Javits was converted into a field hospital last spring with about 4,500 beds for overflow virus patients when the state’s COVID-19 infection rate peaked at 48.1% on April 4, 2020. It was the highest coronavirus infection rate in the nation, and one of the highest in the world, at the time.
New York on Wednesday became the U.S. state with the nation’s lowest seven-day average COVID positivity rate at 0.64%. Massachusetts has the second-lowest at 0.68%, followed by Vermont at 0.79%.
The state’s COVID-19 positivity rate dipped to 0.61% Wednesday, and 0.64% over a seven-day average — the lowest since Sept. 2, continuing 58 straight days of decline.
“New York state has the lowest weekly positivity rate of any state in the United States of America,” Cuomo said. “It it is extraordinary for New York, to understand what New Yorkers have accomplished. And not only did we bring the number down initially, we have kept the number down to this day. If you had told us a year ago when we were walking through this facility, don’t worry, you’re going to turn it around and New York is going to wind up with the lowest positivity, I wouldn’t have believed you.”
Statewide COVID hospitalizations declined 25 patients to 1,007 people Wednesday — the lowest since Oct. 21.
Eleven New Yorkers died from virus complications Tuesday — flat from the previous week.