July 29, 2021
Dear C. Sonia,
Earlier this week, the CDC released new guidance on mask wearing. We are reviewing the CDC's new recommendations closely in consultation with federal and state health experts. As we observe a rise in COVID cases in New York State and across the country, driven by the Delta variant, the State is taking new action to curb the spread. To that end, by Labor Day, all state employees will be required to either get vaccinated or get tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis. We look forward to working closely with our brothers and sisters in labor to implement the program quickly and fairly. This vaccination or testing requirement will help ensure the health and safety of our incredible workforce at a time when Delta is spreading. I know that we are all ready to put COVID in our rear-view mirror; that is why it is so important that we continue to get more shots in arms. We're all in this together.
Here's what else you need to know tonight:
1. COVID hospitalizations rose to 611. Of the 103,159 tests reported yesterday, 2,567, or 2.49 percent, were positive. We believe that as many a three-quarters of these positive cases are the Delta variant. The 7-day positivity average was 2.17 percent. There were 126 patients in ICU yesterday. Of them, 57 are intubated. Sadly, we lost two New Yorkers to the virus.
2. As of 11am this morning, 74.9 percent of adult New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose, per the CDC. Over the past 24 hours, 18,314 total doses have been administered. To date, New York has administered 22,128,025 total doses with 68.3 percent of adult New Yorkers completing their vaccine series. See additional data on the State's Vaccine Tracker.
3. The State Senate and Assembly will also require vaccination or regular testing of their staff. Local governments including New Rochelle have also joined the State in announcing that they will implement similar requirements. I thank them for taking this smart step to fight back against the threat of the highly contagious Delta variant.
4. We announced up to $125 million in student debt relief to CUNY students affected by the pandemic. The newly announced "CUNY Comeback Program" will eliminate up to $125 million in unpaid debt for at least 50,000 students who attended a CUNY school. Students were among those most impacted by COVID and this plan—one of the largest student debt forgiveness plans of its kind—provides them with much-needed financial relief.
5. Patient-facing healthcare workers at State-operated hospitals will be required to be vaccinated by Labor Day. There will not be a testing option for unvaccinated employees. Our healthcare workers carried us through the worst of this pandemic—and we owe it to them to do what we can to keep Delta under control and more people out of hospital beds. This requirement will help keep both patients and workers safe.
6. New York launched a tax credit program to help restaurants recover from COVID. The $35 million Restaurant Return-to-Work Tax Credit program is designed to help expand employment opportunities for workers and provide financial relief. Qualifying restaurants could receive a $5,000 tax credit per net new hire, totaling up to $50,000 in tax credits per business. Learn more.
Tonight's "Deep Breath Moment": As the Summer Olympics take place in Tokyo, two New Yorkers have added to Team USA's medal count this week. Hailing from Pelham, NY, Team USA swimmer Kate Douglass won bronze Wednesday morning in the Women's 200m Individual Medley. Later that same day, in the first-ever 3x3 women's basketball event to take place at the Olympics, Port Jervis native Stefanie Dolson won the inaugural gold medal. Congratulations to both Stefanie and Kate for making New York proud.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo