Aug 25, 2020
For the 17th straight day, the statewide infection rate is under 1 percent, and our positivity rate hit a record low with 0.66% of yesterday's COVID-19 tests returning as positive. We continue trending in the right direction but we do so only because we remain alert for any signs that can hamper that progress.
In Western New York, the infection rate has been above 1 percent for six days. The increase is driven in part by clusters at a steel plant in Erie County and at a food processing factory in Chautauqua County, as well as from a cluster of seasonal workers at farms. This is not a cause for alarm, but it is a caution sign. Fortunately, our robust testing means that we were able to identify these clusters quickly and contact tracers could track down potential contacts and stop further spread. New Yorkers can continue to do their part to keep the infection rate down by wearing masks, washing hands often and practicing social distancing. The virus isn't gone yet so we must remain vigilant.
Here's what else you need to know tonight:
1. The total number of COVID hospitalizations remains low. Yesterday, there were 482 total hospitalizations. Of the 62,031 tests reported yesterday, 408, or 0.66%, were positive. Sadly, we lost 7 New Yorkers to the virus.
2. New COVID testing sites will be set up at NYC airports. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and New York City Health + Hospitals will set up testing sites at JFK and LaGuardia Airports to limit the spread of COVID-19 from visitors arriving from out of state. New Yorkers have worked very hard to keep the infection rate down and we must protect that progress.
3. Lower-risk, school-sponsored sports can begin September 21st. Travel for practice or away games will be prohibited outside of the school's region or neighboring regions or counties until October 19th. Lower- and moderate-risk sports include tennis, soccer, cross country, field hockey and swimming.
4. So far, PSAs from New York's "Mask Up, America" campaign have been seen more than 15 million times as they aired on over 40,000 TV spots on stations across the country. The overwhelming success and reach of this campaign is thanks to the collaboration of our partners Extreme Reach and the Chimney Group. You can see all of the Mask Up, America PSAs here.
5. Today, I issued an Executive Order to bolster and support New Yorkers' right to vote. The order requires county Boards of Election to adopt a newly designed envelope for absentee ballots that will eliminate confusion as to where voters must sign their ballot; to send a mailing notifying voters of deadlines and instructions for requesting absentee ballots; to take steps so that they're ready to count votes as soon as possible; and to send staffing plans and needs to the State Board of Elections by September 20. This order builds on legislation I signed last week allowing all voters to request an absentee ballot if they have COVID-related concerns about voting in-person.
6. The LIRR Third Track project reached a new milestone today with elimination of the New Hyde Park Road grade crossing. This project (the third of eight LIRR grade crossings to be eliminated) will reduce traffic congestion and increase safety for pedestrians and drivers alike. One of the few silver linings of this crisis has been that with less ridership and less traffic due to COVID, the LIRR has been able to accelerate construction. I thank all the MTA employees and contractors who helped get this important project done ahead of schedule.
Tonight's "Deep Breath Moment": At Wagner Farms in Rome, New York, the farm's 10 acres of sunflower fields are in full boom in bright summer colors. This year, a record number of visitors have visited the Oneida County farm to see the sunflowers and explore the nearby corn maze, among other socially distanced activities.
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