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Cuomo warns NYers to take precautions against COVID-19 on Thanksgiving

Office of the Governor
Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a briefing Nov. 22.

As the Thanksgiving holiday week begins, New York State officials are recommending that dinners and other gatherings of family and friends be limited or even cancelled, to prevent a further rise in COVID-19 transmission.

New York’s rate of the virus has been creeping up all fall, though the state is still at a significantly lower rate than most of the rest of the nation. 2.74% of all tests were positive on Saturday, and 30 people died of the disease, and 2,562 were in the hospital.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the weeks between now and Jan. 2 are a “dangerous period” for New Yorkers, as pressure to participate in social interactions, intensifies during the holiday season.

Cuomo, who has already limited indoor gatherings to ten people or fewer, said we’ll know by early December whether or not New Yorkers were careful over the Thanksgiving  holiday and took precautions like mask wearing and social distancing.

“People get infected, you need an incubation period for the virus, they then start to get sick, they then start to show up at the hospital,” Cuomo said. So, Dec. 1-10 you'll see the results of Thanksgiving weekend.

The governor said the winter holidays — Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s — usually a period of “hyper social activity” will be another trigger point for spread of the virus . He said safe behaviors can mean all the difference between a low or moderate trajectory of the virus, and a “terrible spike," which he said will lead to more hospitalizations and deaths.

“I would not be shocked if they said on Jan. 10, Jan. 15 we're up at 7, 8, 9, 10%. That could very easily happen if we are irresponsible. It could even be higher if we're irresponsible,” Cuomo said. “It's purely a function of what we do.”

He said event though two major pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer and Moderna, are on track to produce doses of a reliable vaccine, it will at first be limited to the most vulnerable groups, and it will be  at least another six months before enough people receive the vaccine to achieve “critical mass” and  allow normal life to resume. And he said a future vaccine can’t do anything about rising rates of the virus right now.

Cuomo also warned that many regions of the state are headed toward more economic restrictions in the coming days, including portions of Manhattan, Staten Island, Long Island and Rochester and Syracuse, as the positivity rates in those regions are rising. But the governor did not declare any new zones or intensify any existing ones on Sunday.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.
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