Gov. Cuomo Moves Oneida County into a COVID Yellow Zone
(This story was updated at 3:45 p.m.) Governor Andrew Cuomo declared Oneida County a COVID-19 "Yellow Zone" classification, on Monday, due to a sharp uptick in COVID cases in the last 10-days. The directive comes with some new restrictions on indoor dining and gatherings, which he did not outline in his press conference.
"Rome, Utica and Oneida County...there is a problem there and we have to start to be honest about it and address it. The bottom line is we're going to have to manage the spread and the hospitalization until the vaccine kicks in," said Cuomo.
A Yellow Zone, according to the Governor, is a 3-percent positivity over the past 10 days
It's so important to stress the need for common sense, the safety measures for you and your families. -Anthony Picente, Oneida County Executive
(7-day rolling average), plus, Top 10-percent for daily hospital admissions per-capita over the past 7-days and week-over-week growth in admissions.
"I think of it as a foot race. 6-9 months...that's more of a marathon. We have to get it in our heads, we still have a marathon to run with this virus," Cuomo said.
What Does a Yellow Zone Mean?
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente further explained during his Monday briefing, what a "Yellow Zone" now means for the region.
First, the Cuomo "Yellow" designation covers the following communities in Oneida County: Utica, Rome, New Hartford, Whitestown, Marcy, Deerfield, Verona, and Westmoreland.
Restrictions in the region now include:
• Non-residential gatherings reduced to 25 people or under (It was 50)
• Residential gatherings remain at 10 people or fewer
• House of Worship at 50-percent capacity
• Non-essential businesses remain open
• Dining is permitted at bars and restaurants, however it is now a 4 person maximum at a table. Bars and restaurants must close at 10 p.m.
• Schools in the zone can be open (Currently all schools in the "Yellow Zone" are currently fully remote through the rest of the year, according to Picente.)
Picente urged people to be cautious of individual gatherings with the year's largest holiday season upon us. "It's so important to stress the need for common sense, the safety measures for you and your families," said Picente. "The holiday table may be smaller this year, but we want to make sure it's larger next year," he added.
What's Next if It Gets Worse?
Governor Cuomo also explained how a region would move into an orange or red zone. An "Orange Zone is the next level of danger leading to restrictions, which would shut down in-door dining, and other limitations. A "Red Zone" would be a complete shutdown, like in the spring, any region where hospital capacity would reach 90-percent in 3 weeks, Cuomo added. Cuomo said no New York region is currently in a red zone.
A Busy Day for the Governor
Cuomo's press briefing came on a busy day in which he helped roll out New York's first vaccination in New York City and then presided over the state's electoral college vote in which all of New York's electoral delegates were given to President-elect Joe Biden.
Today's briefing also came at a time when an allegation was made against Cuomo on Twitter over the weekend by a former staffer, Lyndsey Boylan, who claimed that Cuomo had sexually harassed her while she worked for his administration. Cuomo was asked about the allegation during the question and answer period on Monday afternoon and he completely denied the accusation. "I totally respect the woman's right to speak out; but, the tweets were simply not true," Cuomo said.
Cuomo was also asked about media reports that he is being considered for the position of Attorney General in President-elect Joe Biden's administration. The governor said those reports are not true. "It's flattering to be considered, especially during this time in history," he said. "The most important relationship is with the people of New York. Trust me, my only agenda is to serve as Governor of New York." He added that his job going forward will be "to rebuild New York's economy."