New Yok Gov. Andrew Cuomo welcomed a big-ticket guest at his Monday press briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and figured the two could spread the word together to get New Yorkers vaccinated when it’s time.
“I think your voice saying that the vaccine is safe would be important. Maybe we will enlist you. Maybe we will do an ad telling New Yorkers it’s safe to take the vaccine. Put us together. We can be the modern-day [Robert] De Niro and [Al] Pacino. You can chose whichever you want. You can be De Niro or Pacino. Which one do you want to be?” Cuomo asked Fauci.
“I don’t want to hurt the feeling of the other,” demurred the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases.
“Who’s the politician?” Cuomo joked.
The joking came from serious apprehension expressed by the governor over polls showing that a high percentage of minorities are reluctant to get vaccinated. Reaching out to Black and Latino communities, the hardest hit by the virus, will require “outreach” and an “affirmative effort,” he said.
A vaccine is expected to be approved imminently with frontline workers and the elderly and ill first in line. Fauci said he expects the average “man and woman in the street who is well, with no underlying conditions” to start getting vaccinated in April, through May and June. “By the time we get into the core of the summer and the end of the summer, we should be in good shape,” he said.
The key facing New York and to an even greater extent other states is keeping their health system from becoming overwhelmed before that happens and in the midst of a national surge. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s regional stay-at-home order for Southern California went into effect last night.
Fauci anticipated rising infection rates to into next month as a Thanksgiving surge – which he said will become evident in about a week and a half — leads into a broader holiday surge. “The middle of January could be a really dark time for us,” he said.
The governor said he stands ready to close indoor dining in New York City (currently at 25% capacity) completely and move restaurants in the rest of the state to 25% from 50% capacity if the 7-day rolling hospitalization rate continues to rise, sending the industry into a tizzy Monday.
Cuomo has asked hospitals to boost bed capacity and could create additional beds by eliminating all elective surgery. He said he’ll be ramping up his Emmy-winning once daily briefings again to at least three times a week regularly on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays starting today to keep New Yorkers apprised.
New York’s rate is the fourth lowest in the nation, despite having been the epicenter of the pandemic last spring. Fauci praised Cuomo’s efforts. “You got hit with a sucker punch when cases came in from Europe. You recovered from that because … when things were getting out of hand, you tightened the rope a little bit, and when things went back, you eased up a little bit.”
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