ALBANY, N.Y. — Governor Andrew Cuomo held a conference call Sunday with reporters, criticizing the United States government for not taking initiative on preventing a new strain of COVID-19 from entering the United States. The governor says all it takes is one person to bring the virus over.
The new variant, identified in the United Kingdom, has put the UK into a lockdown and led the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy to stop flights between their countries.
The Port Authority does not have the authority to screen or keep travelers out, Cuomo said, adding that it's a federal decision.
"Doing nothing is doing something," Cuomo said of the federal government.
Cuomo added that the concern with this new variant is that it appears to be more transmissible than previous variant strains of the virus. The governor says there's no evidence on whether or not the new virus variant is here yet.
"That is what kept me up last night... we do not have any evidence," Cuomo said.
He expressed concern over the US government not moving on placing restrictions on travel.
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker says they are testing for the variant in the U.S. The working assumption is that the vaccine will work on this variant, Cuomo says.
During the conference call the governor also gave an update regarding the state's ongoing response to the pandemic.
The governor says 6,185 people are currently hospitalized across New York State. Of those hospitalized, 1,045 patients were in the ICU, 600 of which were intubated. New York State had a statewide COVID-19 positivity rate of 5.05 percent on Saturday.
Here in the Western New York region, 473 people are currently hospitalized for COVID-19, which equates to .03 percent of the area's population. The state estimates that the seven day average of hospital beds available in the region is 28 percent.
Of those hospitalized in Western New York hospitals, 334 are in the ICU. At this time, 43 percent of ICU beds in the region are available.
As for the area's percent positive rate, the governor's office reports that the Western New York region had a slight decrease in its percent positive rate Saturday, at 6.37 percent.