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New York To Relax COVID Restrictions Once 70% Of Adults Receive 1st Vaccine Shot

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday COVID restrictions will be lifted once New York reaches a vaccination rate of 70%, and the state is almost there.

"When we hit 70%, then I feel comfortable saying to the people of this state, 'We can relax virtually all restrictions,'" he said. "Then we can lift the capacity restrictions, social distancing, the hygiene protocols, the health screenings, the potential tracing. Masks will only be required as recommended by the CDC."

The governor said the Empire State Building will light up in blue and gold once the state reaches the 70% threshold.

COVID rules will still apply in certain settings, like large venues, schools, public transportation, hospitals and nursing homes.


CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis went to find out what's being done to reach communities with the lowest vaccine rates.

"I need to get back to normal. I want to travel and live life," said Bronx resident Denise Sampayo.

For those reasons, Sampayo was debating getting vaccinated. It was her 11-year-old son Ethan who convinced her.

"I wanted my mom to get vaccinated for her safety because I remember she got COVID," Ethan said.

"'I was one of those that said I'm not doing that until a year later. Then, of course, reality hit and I got sick," Sampayo said.

She got her second shot Monday at Mott Haven Charter School, a site run by the Bronx Rising Initiative.

"That's what we're here to do, change hearts, change minds and make sure that people get shots in their arms," said Bronx Rising Initiative Chief Operation Officer Jason Autar.

The organization was created in response to the pandemic's disproportionate impact on the borough, going door to door to educate the community on the vaccine.

"To date, we've knocked on something like 7,500 doors, mostly through public housing in NYCHA," Autar said.

Forty five percent of New York City residents got their shots, but a breakdown by demographic shows only 25% of Black and 31% of Hispanic residents are fully vaccinated.

"What's being done by the city specifically to make sure these communities are protected from COVID and get vaccinated?" DeAngelis asked de Blasio.

"Jenna, nonstop effort," he said. "It is about engaging houses of worship. It is about being ubiquitous in public housing."

De Blasio says outreach efforts are overwhelmingly focused on communities of color, and particularly young people, like one 12-year-old who got her shot.

"It helps so other people can start going outside and no more COVID," said Andrea Ortigoza.

Cuomo says the focus is now on zip codes with the lowest vaccination rate.

"If you look at the zip codes by vaccination rate, the bottom 10% of the zip codes are below 36%," Cuomo said. "These zip codes are almost half of the vaccination rate -- target those areas."

And the overall vaccination rate in the state is nearing that 70% mark, at 68.6%, but it's not just about closing that gap, but the one between communities to assure all are protected.

The city is continuing to roll out vaccine incentives. The latest: Ten people will win MetroCards worth six months of free rides.

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