On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his annual State of the State address, where for the first time he gave New Yorkers a glimmer of hope as he plans to reopen the state’s economy notwithstanding a surge in confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The Democratic governor stressed his designs regarding the state’s “economic resurgence,” even as New York faces a mass exodus and record budget deficit.

“We simply cannot stay closed until the vaccine hits critical mass – the cost is too high,” Cuomo finally acknowledged in his address. “We must reopen the economy, but we must do it smartly and safely.”

Cuomo continued on to say that his plan was to utilize coronavirus testing to allow the reopening of restaurants, theaters, and small businesses.

In the absence of moving things forward for the moment, Cuomo soberly predicted that the state would have “nothing left to open.”

A spokesperson for the office of the New York governor did not go into further detail about Cuomo’s reopening plans beyond comments he made in his address on Monday.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) commented on the swift change in direction from the governor by saying: “So let me get this straight..when Republicans have been saying this that means they are science deniers trying to kill people, but when @NYGovCuomo finally says this today then he is a genius who should write another book about his incredible leadership? Did I get that right?”

Not unlike many states, the New York state government chose to shut down completely at the beginning of the pandemic last spring.

During the summer, New York moved to a directive that targeted assumed “hot spots,” which instructed businesses to be closed within stipulated areas when confirmed cases grew above a certain percentage limit.

According to some medical professionals, cases within the United States spiked to once again reach record levels. As of data Sunday, New York’s statewide positivity grew to 6.22%.

New York has been battling with a COVID-related budget chasm, which has cost a record $15 billion, according to Cuomo.

Cuomo has been highly criticized for his policy to move COVID-19 patients into nursing homes to be treated alongside some of the people most vulnerable to the virus. As recently as September, the governor had denied that the nursing-home deaths were related to his orders, but rather the consequences of infections that were brought in by staff or visiting family members before authorities were even informed the virus was spreading throughout the state. 

The AP reported that as of late summer, roughly 6,600 COVID-related nursing-home deaths happened in the state of New York.

Cuomo once again pressed his calls for federal aid to state and local governments during his address, an appeal that will likely be fulfilled with his more sympathetic Democratic peers taking power back in Congress and the White House.

However, he has also advocated for other ways for his state to get resources, like legalizing marijuana and online sports gambling, which would create additional tax dollars from citizens.

In the meantime, New York’s COVID-19 vaccine deployment, not unlike other places throughout the country, has been going forward at a speed that has been slower than first estimated.

In September, Gov. Cuomo said regarding the vaccines: “What do we want to accomplish in New York? We should have the best vaccination program in the United States of America. I think the way we have handled COVID has been a model for this country. I want New Yorkers to do the same thing with vaccines.”

According to records from this Saturday, 543,147 doses had been given out in the state of New York.

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