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    New York gearing up for winter COVID plan: Cuomo

    New York is gearing up for a new phase of the coronavirus as the holiday season begins and temperatures drop, Gov. Cuomo said Thursday.

    “All the global experts say the same thing. This virus has phases, as the phases changes, your plan should change,” Cuomo said in telephone call with reporters Thursday.

    The state’s approach to adapting its COVID response for the winter months will hinge on three separate efforts, Cuomo said.

    First, the state will continue developing its plan to distribute a COVID vaccine, the first of which could become available as early as next month, according to health officials.

    But Cuomo cautioned that the state can’t afford to loosen its other restrictions while the vaccine is rolled out.

    “It’s great we have the vaccine, but when you get into the details…you’re talking months and months before you get to the general public, or a critical mass where it will make an actual difference in the net infection rate,” he said.

    In the meantime, the state will stick with its approach of imposing additional restrictions on “micro-clusters,” though Cuomo said the state is revising its criteria for how to designate a hotspot.

    Officials will begin factoring in the availability of hospital beds when considering whether to designate an area as a red, orange or yellow zone.

    “Infection rate in a place that has a shortage of hospital beds is more serious than infection rate in a place with more hospital beds,” Cuomo said.

    The state is also reconsidering its rules for allowing elementary and middle schools to remain open in hotspot zones, Cuomo said.

    Source: NEW YORK DAILY NEWS