Northeastern governors will meet to ‘align actions’ to quell COVID surge

The governors of Northeastern states are holding a summit this weekend to discuss aligning policy in the light of rising COVID-19 cases in the region, Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday.

“We are testing more than just about any other state in the nation, reaching new record highs in the number of tests we perform in a single day,” said Cuomo in a statement announcing New York’s latest numbers.

Once again, New York broke its record for COVID-19 test results reported in a single day: 203,721 test results were reported on Thursday.

Cuomo said the good news continues of New York State having one of the lowest infection rates in the country.

“The bad news is we are in the midst of a sea of COVID rising around us,” he said. “You look at the international numbers, and they are frightening — countries are locking down. You look at states around the country and the numbers are all going up quickly. The reality is the virus is mobile and we’re in the holiday season and people will travel more.”

According to a recent national survey, close to 40 percent of Americans say they plan to attend a Thanksgiving gathering with 10 people. Also, the survey by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that a third of them said they would not ask guests to wear masks.

Earlier this week, Cuomo had announced a statewide restriction that gatherings, even at private parties, are not to exceed 10 people.

“These are all elements that conspire to increase the spread,” said Cuomo. “We believe we’re going to have to be taking additional steps, and to the degree we can share information and align action with other regional states, we’ll do that.”

In a conference call with reporters on Friday, Cuomo said the rate of infection in Connecticut was 4 percent; in New Jersey, 6 percent; in Pennsylvania, 19 percent; and in Massachusetts, 27 percent. New York currently has a positivity rate of 2.6 percent.

“I have called my surrounding colleagues, governors, and we’re going to have an emergency summit meeting this weekend of the six northeastern states, governors and their staffs. The teams have been working together,” said Cuomo. “We want to make sure that we can align policies as much as possible, or at least be aware of what the other states’ policies are.”

He said no policy changes will be made over the weekend so that the new restrictions implemented this week can be evaluated.

“We will see where we are on Monday,” said Cuomo.

Cuomo also told reporters, “You cannot sustain a rising COVID rate until you have a vaccine … The vaccine is not here. The vaccine is on the horizon and you cannot take this rate of increase and survive pending the arrival of a vaccine. If you have this level of infection rates it’s even going to make the vaccine distribution harder, right?”


Vaccine concerns

Also on Friday, Cuomo continued to stress his concerns about the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine, once Pfizer and BioNTech have cleared the hurdle of their final Phase III testing and been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Speaking to Katy Tur on MSNBC Live, Cuomo cited a Kaiser poll that said 60 percent of Americans are worried that the approval was political and a Pew poll that said about 50 percent of Americans are worried that the approval is political.

He noted that New York, like a handful of other states, has set up a panel to review the vaccine. “Ours is headed by a Nobel Prize laureate who will review the FDA process so we can say to people, ‘It is safe, you should take the vaccine,’” said Cuomo.

He again reiterated his concerns about the Trump administration’s vaccine distribution plan, which depends on pharmacy chains and private health-care providers and may neglect poor Black and brown communities where there are health-care deserts.

Cuomo said his administration has been in touch with the Biden transition team “on an ongoing basis” and he criticized President Donald Trump for not conceding the election and working with his successor.

“You’re in the middle of a national pandemic, your ego is going to get in the way of a formal normal transition of power?” said Cuomo. “You’re not going to inform the incoming administration of the day-to-day need to make a decision? Meanwhile you have Americans dying and the COVID pandemic raging?”

Responding to threats President Donald Trump made — during a Rose Garden press conference commending the vaccine —  that the federal government wouldn’t deliver the vaccine to New York State because the state’s review panel would delay its distribution, Cuomo said,  “The day they distribute the vaccine, we will be ready to start the distribution. Our review of the FDA protocol will be simultaneous, concurrent with their delivery. We’re not going to have any lag in time. But I do want to say to the people of this state: Trust the vaccine.”

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