Cuomo: Remaining COVID restrictions to be lifted once state hits 70% vaccination rate

Coronavirus

(WIVB) — Governor Cuomo says when the state’s adult, one-dose vaccination rate hits 70%, many remaining COVID restrictions will be lifted across commercial and social settings.

“We hit 70%, we will be back to life as normal,” said the governor, although the overall New York State population is still not even 50% fully vaccinated, the percentage of adults who have at least one shot is 68.6% and he says when it hits 70%, perhaps in about 8 days, capacity restrictions, social distancing and hygiene protocols would be lifted. “Masks will only be required as recommended by the CDC. There will still be some institutional guidelines, large venues, schools, public transportation, hospitals, nursing homes.”

The Governor says his communication with the Centers for Disease Control indicate they are still not comfortable giving schools the option to letting students to take off their masks without distancing indoors, only outdoors for the rest of this school year. Districts including Williamsville Central and Amherst Central have already announced that students can begin removing masks when outdoors on school property.

Hamburg Central School District superintendent Michael Cornell questions why the Cuomo administration publicly released a letter on Friday asking the CDC for permission to lift the indoor student mask rule. “Whether or not the intent was to cause confusion, or whether or not the Governor’s perception was that it didn’t cause confusion, it in fact caused confusion all over the state.”

Kenmore Teachers Association president Peter Stuhlmiller thinks it’s prudent to finish the school year with indoor masks. “Yes, it’s uncomfortable in school. Yes, we all want to take these off, no question about it, but I’d rather not be penny-wise and pound foolish. I’d rather have us be careful and strategic about public safety.”

Cuomo says mask requirements remain consistent with the CDC guidelines, and some institutional restrictions will continue (large venues, schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional and healthcare facilities).

According to the governor, the numbers show that the risk of transmission by children is “extremely low,” especially when the state positivity rate is “so low.”

The governor says he spoke with the CDC, and they said they are not changing their policy on schools nationwide for several weeks, but the state will align school and camp guidance.

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