Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced that New York’s COVID-19 state of emergency, which has been in place since March 2020, will end Thursday.
Mr. Cuomo lifted most COVID restrictions last week, after New York reached a landmark 70% vaccination rate among adults. As of Wednesday, according to the state, 71.2% of adult New Yorkers have received at least one vaccination dose and 63.5% are fully vaccinated.
“The emergency is over. It’s a new chapter,” Mr. Cuomo said of the March 7, 2020 executive order. He added that guidance from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will remain in effect — unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear masks — and local governments may continue to enforce mandates where they exist, should they choose to.
Mr. Cuomo did not include a chart tracking COVID-19 cases in New York at his media briefing Wednesday, saying the state has “reached a new plateau” and is “past the day-to-day monitoring of COVID.”
The announcement marks the end of a grueling year marred with death, economic strains and other conditions exacerbated by the pandemic. But despite the lift of regulations, Mr. Cuomo emphasized that New Yorkers should not let their guard down.
“There will be another virus,” he said. “It will happen again, and we need to be prepared.”
He emphasized the importance of continued vaccinations — warning about COVID-19 mutations — and acknowledged that the state was unprepared for the virus last year.
“Don’t underestimate the lesson of COVID. We were right on the cusp of total chaos,” he said.
The governor signed into law a new mandate that will require healthcare facilities to establish clinical staffing committees of nurses, administrators and staffers providing direct care, charged with developing safe staffing plans to be implemented by Jan. 1.
Mr. Cuomo also emphasized the important role that essential workers played during the pandemic. Starting today, he said, the state will provide $25 million in childcare scholarships to essential workers. The state also plans to open a new monument to essential workers in Battery Park City.