NY State Ends Cluster Zones System

NEW YORK -
Governor Andrew Cuomo provides a coronavirus update. (Don Pollard/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

All of New York state’s coronavirus cluster zones will cease as the state moves on from the outbreak-monitoring system.

“We are reaching the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday, noting nearly 4.3 million vaccine doses have been distributed.

Public facing government workers are now eligible for the coronavirus vaccine, bringing the number of New Yorkers eligible for the vaccine at nearly 12 million. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who both became eligible under the new expansions, were vaccinated at their respective press conferences on Wednesday and Thursday.

Other essential workers eligible include building service workers, social service workers, election workers and sanitation workers.

Cuomo announced that outdoor entertainment venues and indoor exercise businesses can be reopened with strict capacity limits. Indoor capacity caps, now at 10%, can increase as coronavirus rates improve, NBC 4 reported.

“Let’s get back to life and living. It is safe,” he said. “New York has always been smart and safe all through this. We went from the highest infection rate in the United States of America to the lowest infection rate in America.”

State officials disagree; at his own press conference, de Blasio blasted Cuomo for the new reopening announcements, accusing the governor of playing politics to distract from the investigations into his mishandling of nursing home deaths.

“Is this being done because of what the data and science is telling us or is this being done for political reasons?” de Blasio asked. “[It] looks like a lot of these decisions are being made by the governor because of his political needs.”

“It’s just troubling to me that our healthcare team has said very clearly this is not what they would have done and the state just doesn’t care,” de Blasio continued, noting city health officials warned opening indoor exercise classes was unsafe.  “We’re going to do our best to implement this rule safely because the state has the legal right to do it, but it’s not what we would have done.”

The death toll and hospitalization rate from coronavirus in New York has fallen dramatically, but its number of cases on a 7-day rolling average is one of the highest in the nation. New York City itself has the highest number of cases per 100,000 residents in the country, according to the CDC’s data.