‘Momentous day’ as most COVID restrictions lifted due to state reaching vaccination milestone

In mid-December of 2020, Sandra Lindsay, RN, the director of critical care at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, became the first New Yorker to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in a non-trial setting.

Seven months later, and more than 20 million doses later, New York has reached the milestone of 70% of the adult population having received at least one dose of the vaccine. That mark triggers the final rollback of state-mandated pandemic restrictions.

“This is a momentous day and we deserve it because it has been a long, long road,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a celebratory event Tuesday afternoon in New York City.

The rollback of restrictions affect all commercial and social settings, including social gathering limits, capacity restrictions, social distancing, health screenings, cleaning and disinfection protocols and contact information for tracing. The governor said federal mandates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, such as for pre-K schools and public transportation, remain.

“Congratulations to New Yorkers because they are the ones who did it,” Mr. Cuomo said. “We’re no longer just surviving. We’re not in our homes afraid to go out. We’re not in our homes disinfecting everything that we can see. Life is not about survival. Life is about thriving.”

Long Island has the highest vaccination rate in the state at 75.3%, the governor said.

Mr. Cuomo said New York has vaccinated a larger share of adults than any other big state in the country and currently has the lowest positivity rate in America at 0.4%.

“It means we can now return to life as we know it,” he said.

The data published by the State Department of Health still does not reflect the 70% mark for adults with at least one dose. The 70% figure comes from federal data, which includes “federally-administered doses and other minor differences,” according to the governor’s office, which releases both figures.

The DOH vaccine tracker currently shows just about half of the state’s population is now fully vaccinated. Suffolk County has passed the 50% mark of total population fully vaccinated.

The federal government had set a target for July 4 to get 70% of the population vaccinated.

“It is the national goal and we hit it ahead of schedule,” Mr. Cuomo said to a round of applause at One World Trade Center.

Ten fireworks shows are set for 9:15 p.m. tonight across the state to celebrate the milestone. The only show on Long Island is at Jones Beach. Fireworks will also be set off at New York Harbor.

“We can get back to living and businesses can open,” Mr. Cuomo said.

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