Governor visits Western New York where positivity rates reached 3.5 percent this week

Photos courtesy of the Governor’s Office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday the Buffalo Marathon will return in June for its twentieth anniversary. 

The governor also joined Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes to announce a new pop-vaccination site in the region just for young people.

The race will operate at roughly 50 percent of its typical capacity with additional health and safety protocols for participants, event staff, and volunteers. 

Using the Buffalo Marathon model, the state’s sports and recreation guidance will be updated with health protocols for running races to help localities plan and permit these events.

As of April 29, the overall positivity rate of the coronavirus is at 1.8 percent, with hospitalizations at 2,900, which is the first day that number has been under 3,000 since Thanksgiving. 

However, while the rest of the state is seeing positive rates of around 2 percent and below, Western New York’s positivity rate is at 3.56 percent, the highest in the state.

“We are working doubly hard in Western New York to get that number down,” Cuomo said Thursday. “How do you get the number down? Two ways. Precautions and vaccinations. What are precautions? Precautions are precautions. Precautions are common sense. Wear the mask, socially distance, be careful.”

Vaccine rates are lowering, with an average of 115,000 vaccines being administered daily. Fewer people are coming in to get a vaccine, with the most eager recipients getting the vaccine first, when it opened up to them.

“This COVID situation changes almost day to day,” Cuomo said. “It certainly changes week to week. And as the enemy changes tactics, then we adopt our tactics to meet the enemy, right? Because this is a war. You read about the great wars. You watch the enemy, the enemy moves, and then you move in response.”

The lowest percentage of people getting the vaccine throughout the state are young people between the ages of 16 and 25 – just 34 percent of them are vaccinated. Throughout the entirety of the pandemic, young people were told the coronavirus is less dangerous for them.

“Young people have gotten very sick from the coronavirus as well. Younger people have been shown to get long-haul syndrome,” said Cuomo, referring to a phenomenon where the coronavirus lingers in your body for months and months.

To encourage more young people to get the COVID vaccine, the state will provide 1,000 doses and establish a new pop-up site targeting 16 to 25-year-olds in Buffalo. The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority will provide 1,000 day passes to help eligible residents reach the pop-up site.

 “While some younger New Yorkers might believe themselves to be superheroes who can withstand COVID, it’s important for them to remember that just because you might not get extremely sick, it doesn’t mean you can’t infect other, more vulnerable people,” Cuomo said.

Pop-up vaccination sites have been opening up all throughout the state, allowing for people to get their vaccine at a site close to them.

The latest will be in Buffalo, opening this weekend. Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, D-Buffalo, said this week that positivity rates have increased in Western New York over the last three weeks, and at the same time, the region has the lowest share of young people getting vaccinated statewide. 

“This is a demographic that urgently needs the help,” she said. “Everyone 16 years and older are now eligible to get vaccinated,” said Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes. “If you really care about the people who are around you, who live with you in your community, that should be one of the major reasons that you would get vaccinated.”

“We are in the homestretch. The tape at the end of the race is ahead of us. Now is not the time to slow down,” said Cuomo, referencing the Buffalo Marathon.