Cuomo ponders strategies to keep economy open while waiting for full vaccinations

Published: Dec. 23, 2020 at 1:09 PM EST
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ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - The state has a big challenge ahead, one that Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he plans to address in his State of the State message next month.

He said the state has to strike a balance between reopening the economy and doing it safely.

“You have an economy that’s basically shut down, you are battling the COVID rate daily,” he said. “The weapon that wins the war is the vaccination -- the vaccination will take months.”

He said experts are predicting the country will reach the 75 to 85 percent vaccination rate that will give people herd immunity anywhere from June to the end of 2021.

“We can’t go through a year with the economy shut down,” he said.

“How do you balance that? How do you reopen, or keep open, the economy safely while you’re waiting for full vaccination?”

He said keeping the economy closed down would impose too much of an economic and psychological strain on New Yorkers.

Cuomo said it will likely be judicious use of both vaccinations and rapid testing to get people back to work safely, particularly in higher risk situations like restaurants.

“How do you use those as tools to keep an economy open or reopen an economy,” he said. “Big question mark. That’s what I want to speak to in my State of the State.”

As a test, the state is working with the Buffalo Bills on strategies that would include rapidly testing spectators so they can watch the team’s upcoming playoff game safely and without it becoming a super-spreader event.

State officials say they are still in the planning stages.

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