Cuomo: New Strains of COVID Could Spark Second Wave in New York
Gov. Cuomo wants to buy more vaccine doses and fears a second wave of COVID is coming from overseas.
On Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it appears the spread of COVID-19 is starting to slow down after cases surged from the holidays but warns the worst of the health crisis may not be over yet.
Cuomo is worried that new variants of the virus from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil could lead to a second wave. Cuomo is urging Empire State residents to remain on high alert and continue to practice social distancing.
"While we are encouraged as the numbers begin to come back down to pre-holiday surge levels, we still have a long way to go before we reach the light at the end of the tunnel," Cuomo said. "Not only has the federal government opened up the floodgates of eligibility without increasing the supply of vaccine, now we are seeing new strains of the virus from the UK, South Africa and Brazil that could spark a second wave - yet the federal government continues to do nothing. If these strains hit, we will see our numbers go right back up. New York has used our experience from the spring to prepare our hospitals and our residents as we continue to fight this invisible enemy and it's time for the federal government to follow suit - increase the vaccine supply, test international travelers and actually work with states to win this war."
Cuomo believes any of the strains could lead to a second wave.
"Any of these strains could be a second wave. “If you know there’s a UK strain, there’s a south African strain, a Brazilian strain, why don’t you stop those people from coming here? We must test all international travelers now," Cuomo said Monday during a press briefing.
There have been nearly 20 confirmed cases of the UK strain discovered in New York, including one from the Mid-Hudson Region.
Cuomo also said Monday he hopes to be the first governor to buy coronavirus vaccine doses directly from the manufacturer. Cuomo sent a letter to Rockland County bases Pfizer seeing if it's possible to buy the vaccine directly from Pfizer. Below is the letter:
Dear Dr. Bourla:
On behalf of all New Yorkers, I want to thank you and the teams at Pfizer and BioNTech for your hard work to develop a safe, effective vaccine for COVID-19. The last ten months have been exceptionally dark — but your efforts have provided a bright light at the end of the tunnel and hope for a better future. It is abundantly clear that these vaccines are the weapons that will finally win the war against COVID-19. But with hospitalizations and deaths increasing across the country this winter, we are in a footrace with the virus, and we will lose unless we dramatically increase the number of doses getting to New Yorkers. After myself and seven other governors called on the Trump Administration to release more doses, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said that relief was on the way. To date, however, the federal government has not acted on that promise — in fact, New York will receive just 250,000 doses this week, 50,000 fewer than the week prior.
Because you are not bound by commitments that Moderna made as part of Operation Warp Speed, I am requesting that the State of New York be permitted to directly purchase doses from you. The distribution of any doses obtained directly from Pfizer will follow the rigorous guidance the State has established, while enabling us to fill the dosage gap created this week by the outgoing federal administration. All of this will further our goal to vaccinate 70 to 90 percent of New Yorkers as soon as possible and reach herd immunity.
You no doubt understand the challenges New York and other states face. Shifting guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention drove the number of New Yorkers eligible and prioritized for the vaccine from 5 million to 7 million practically overnight. The federal administration essentially opened up a floodgate while cutting our supply — leading to confusion, frustration, and dashed hopes.
Pfizer is a New York company - something I am greatly proud of. The company's decision to opt out of Operation Warp Speed, which the Biden administration plans to overhaul, puts it in a unique situation that could help us save lives right here in New York. I am happy to discuss this matter further with you.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo