Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Long Island has the highest COVID-19 vaccination rate of any region in New York during a news conference on Monday.
According to state Health Department figures, more than 1.3 million Long Islanders had received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine and more than 1.1 million had a completed vaccination series as of Wednesday.
Cuomo touted the efforts of Nassau and Suffolk residents, resulting in 69 percent of the island’s population eligible to receive the vaccine having gotten at least one shot. The governor warned that the battle against the virus is not over, despite significant decreases in daily positive cases.
“Just so we know, it’s not yet time to fully celebrate,” Cuomo said. “Some people want to say, “well, COVID is over now. It’s over.” It’s not over. It’s managed, it’s not over.”
Northwell Health’s president and CEO, Michael Dowling, echoed Cuomo’s remarks about the need to stay vigilant and get vaccinated. Dowling said Northwell’s hospitals in March and April of 2020 had about 3,500 coronavirus patients on a daily basis. That number now is around 195.
“We’ve come a long way,” Dowling said. “We’re in the home stretch. We can see the finish line, but COVID is not gone. It’s here. And this is a message for everybody, COVID is sneaky.”
Cuomo also rolled out a new initiative to encourage New Yorkers to get vaccinated. He announced the formation of the “Shot In the Park” initiative, which provides people who receive a first vaccine dose or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from May 24 to 30 with free two-day passes to any New York state park, valid through Sept. 30.
Cuomo announced the initiative after pointing to “troubling” vaccination figures throughout the state. The state, he said, is conducting less than 100,000 vaccinations each day, a 55 percent decrease from the previous week.
“We are managing it by what we are doing,” Cuomo said. “And the tool that manages it is the vaccination. And that is key to keep that vaccination going.”
Vaccination sites, he said, will be set up at each of the state parks in New York. Northwell Health will be in charge of setting up the sites at all of Long Island’s state parks.
As of Wednesday, more than 814,00 Nassau County residents had received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, with more than 693,000 receiving a completed series, according to state Health Department figures.
“There is no doubt that the vaccine is quickly and safely propelling our County back to normal as hospitalizations and infections continue to fall and as more people decide to become protected,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said in a statement.