Coronavirus Update New York: Vaccine eligibility expanded as state crosses grim milestone

Coronavirus update for New York

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
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Kristin Thorne has more on a newly opened vaccine distribution center at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York has crossed another grim milestone in terms of COVID deaths, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday, on the same day the state expanded its vaccine eligibility.

More than 40,000 people have now died due in part to the novel coronavirus, with 53 additional deaths Monday. Statewide positivity was 4.74%, and 4,681 patients were hospitalized -- including 925 in the ICU.

But there is hope on the horizon, as all New Yorkers ages 50 and up are now eligible to be vaccinated.

"As more New Yorkers get vaccinated every single day, we're working toward a future in which COVID is left behind and we can settle into the new normal," Cuomo said. "We have a ways to go until that happens, so New Yorkers need to stay vigilant and continue practicing safe behaviors."

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A new vaccine distribution center opened at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, with the goal of vaccinating more than 1,000 residents this week and even more once their supply expands.

"This is an iconic building," County Executive Laura Curran said. "It's in the heart of our county, it's easy to get to, and it just makes sense to do vaccination distribution here."

Curran says 32% of Nassau County residents have gotten the first dose of the vaccine. The Coliseum is now the newest spot for people to go, and more than 100 people were vaccinated there Tuesday.

"Today is the soft launch," Curran said. "When it ramps up, we'll probably be doing 350 to 400 a day. And we actually have the capacity to do 1,000 a day."

Cuomo said the state expects an influx of vaccines in the coming weeks and months, with the hope that all those who schedule appointments now would be on track to be vaccinated by April.

"We're expecting a large increase in vaccine supply from the federal government that will enable us to reach more residents and families and further utilize our vast distribution network, but new variants are spreading across the state and should give New Yorkers reason for renewed caution," Cuomo said. "Wash your hands, stay socially distance and wear a mask. We're going to beat COVID, but this fight isn't over yet."

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The state currently receives about 300,000-400,000 doses each week, but Cuomo anticipates that number to double in the coming weeks.

"We're anticipating the increase, and we're now scheduling appointments for the increase," Cuomo said. "And once the allocation actually comes in the door, we have the arms scheduled, if you will, to move that amount of vaccine quickly."

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