Mark Hallum


The Covid Vaccine for Children: What Parents Need to Know

Desiree Mohammadi celebrates after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at Cohen Children's Medical Center as vaccines were approved for children aged 5-11, amid the coronavirus disease pandemic, in New Hyde Park, on Nov. 4. (Andrew Kelly/REUTERS)

Now that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has approved the pediatric Covid-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11, parents with kids in this age group are asking, now what?

For some, the decision to vaccinate elementary school-age children is perhaps a quick “yes” and, for others, maybe it is a more complicated decision. 

Here is what we know so far.

What is the American Academy of Pediatrics saying regarding the Covid-19 shot for kids ages 5 -11? The AAP stated that it recommends that children of this age receive the vaccination. The AAFP (American Academy of Family Physicians) also voiced that it strongly supports vaccination in all eligible children as authorized by the FDA.

What about our schools and the vaccine for this age group? For now, the Covid-19 vaccine, once approved for use in younger children, will be made available on a voluntary basis — with all parents strongly encouraged to get their children vaccinated, amNew York Metro reported. But Gov. Kathy Hochul did not rule out potentially mandating use of the vaccine among children if usage is low and Covid-19 cases begin to spike.

“As I’ve said all along, I want to empower parents and the schools to do the right thing first,” she said. “But if we’re not seeing adequate compliance, or we’re seeing the numbers start going up … if I start seeing infection rates going up, hospitalizations going up, more children being affected, I will have no choice. But right now, the numbers are good, you can get the kids voluntarily vaccinated, parents will hopefully do the right thing and I will keep an eye on that situation.”

What are doctors in the community doing for this age group concerning the Covid-19 vaccine? The CDC’s Pediatric Vaccination Implementation Goals aim to ensure access and availability to kids in schools and hospitals and establish programs in vulnerable and underserved populations.

This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com, where you can find the full article.

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Photos: LIRR Will Bring Riders to Grand Central Terminal in 2022

Grand Central
Governor Andrew Cuomo during a press tour of the East Side Access terminal on May 27, 2021. (Photos by Mark Hallum)

The massive infrastructure undertaking that has been East Side Access – over 15 years in the making – will open to commuters and give LIRR riders access to Grand Central Terminal in 2022, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday before touring the facility with journalists.

With eight track beds, four of which plunging 170 feet below the surface underneath Grand Central, the state government has built granite-clad mezzanines and first-class amenities the Cuomo administration and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority view as worthy of the historic terminal above.

This summer, the MTA and Long Island Rail Road will send electric currents through the third track and begin testing the hardware in anticipation of bringing commuters through Harold Interlocking to Grand Central.

It is a seven-mile journey.

Commuters will enter through Grand Central before being led through brightly lit and white corridors that will serve an art gallery function subject to regular updates before reaching the ticketing booths.

In order to get to trains, 17 hi-rise escalators, 182 feet in length will careen below the surface to a tunnel network that stretches from 42nd Street to 49th Street.

“Not only is it built functionally, but we want people to enjoy the experience. You see architectural flourishes throughout,” Cuomo said from seven stories below Park Avenue. “If you look at the George Washington Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge, Empire State Building, this is going to make New York, New York and it couldn’t come at a better time.”

In all, about $11 billion from federal and state resources have been poured into the project that has been underway since 2005, but has been working its way through red tape for half a century.

According to Janno Lieber, MTA’s Chief Development Officer, the state expects the ridership levels and work patterns to return to more or less to normal by the time station opens in the next year and the COVID-19 vaccines become commonplace. Cuomo explained during the press conference he believed that businesses will also return to the office as it will be human nature to want to gather in-person with coworkers.

Another justification for the project is the argument that two generations ago only 37,000 people lived on Long Island compared to the 2.8 million of today

Leiber said capacity in the peak hours will also be boosted by 60% and the project spanned some 50 total work contracts.

In order to jumpstart ridership further on the Long Island Rail Road, Lieber and the MTA are working on possibly launching more discounted fares to bring people back int0 the transit system.

While East Side Access will free up platform capacity in Penn Station, which also serves Amtrak and New Jersey Transit, Cuomo plans to fill that empty capacity with Metro-North Railroad service, adding another central hub for people seeking connections between the two commuter lines.

Nonetheless, Cuomo described Penn Station as a “hellhole” that has little to offer commuters in terms of an experience. That is, unless their trip takes them through the newly completed Moynihan Train Hall.

This story first appeared on amNY.com.

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NY Offers Free 2-day Passes to State Parks for Getting Vaccinated

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks while making an announcement during a news conference at Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh, New York, U.S., May 24, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling are not letting Covid-19 hamper Memorial Day with a plan to offer free two-day passes for vaccinated New Yorkers to enter state parks such as Jones Beach.

Singing the praises of controversial figure Robert Moses in the development of Jones Beach, Cuomo did not discount the attraction to Jones Beach for its potential to incentivize remaining unvaccinated individuals as daily jabs slow to about 63,443 per day.

“So things are looking good we’re reimagining we’re rebuilding, but we have to maintain our containment of the beast, and that is the vaccines, and the vaccines are dropping off two groups, the youthful and the doubtful,” Cuomo said. “Ten million New Yorkers have taken the vaccine. It has been proven internationally, almost every major medical official in the country will tell you, take the vaccine and so those are the two groups we’re targeting.”

Cuomo, perhaps attempting to appeal to the more sentimental nature of the holiday, branded the effort as a good way to honor essential workers who labored through the pandemic despite the risks to their health, not to mention the fact that many will be heading to state parks regardless.

“Jones Beach is perfect to driving in, you have to go right past the vaccine center. Stop. Get a vaccine, you get a two-day free pass to come into any State Park. This is for all 16 parks across the state,” Cuomo added.

Dowling had more to say on the conditions of facilities within the umbrella of Northwell, the largest healthcare system in the state, in that vaccinations must go full force in order to banish the virus for good. This may have to start in the most convenient location, according to Dowling.

“We are going to bring the vaccine to where you are going to be. It is our obligation and everybody’s obligation everybody who’s watching to basically say … I’m going to leave here today and we’re going to convince three people that I know are hesitant to get the vaccine. Because we want to put this behind us, we want to rebuild the economy, we want to get back to a new normal,” Dowling said. “In the meantime, now we put COVID in the rearview mirror. We say goodbye to it. We’ve had enough of you (COVID) for a year and a half. To hell with you now, you’re gone. Vaccinate.”

In total, up to 8,788,874 New Yorkers have received the full course of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the state.

Those who wish to receive the vaccine and a free two-day pass to any state park can drive up to the Jones Beach vaccination site from May 24 through May 31, or visit one of these pop-up sites on Long Island:

Heckscher State Park: June 5
Hempstead Lake State Park: June 6
Robert Moses State Park: May 29 & May 30
Sunken Meadow State Park: May 29 & May 31

-With Briana Bonfiglio

This story first appeared on amNY.com.

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All NY State-run Mass Vaccine Sites to Accept Walk-ins Starting Thursday

vaccine sites
New York State's mass vaccination site at the Clark Athletic Center at SUNY Old Westbury. (Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that New York state would be following the Centers for Disease Control’s latest guidance that fully vaccinated individuals do not need masks outdoors unless in a crowded setting.

Additionally, all state mass vaccination sites starting on Thursday will not require an appointment, Cuomo announced in a press conference, and every location will have capacity to accommodate every New Yorker, 16 and up, looking to get inoculated against COVID-19.

“We have a call once a week where the governor’s speak with the White House, the CDC announced today new guidance saying for New Yorkers, Americans who are fully vaccinated, when you are outside, biking, hiking, running or in small gatherings, you don’t need to wear a mask,” Cuomo said. “So that is liberating, especially now that the weather is getting warmer. New York has adopted that guidance, so that’s going to go into effect in New York State, also, we want to thank CDC for that.”

Local jurisdictions will have the freedom to decide for themselves whether or not to make vaccinations walk-in as opposed to requiring appointments made online — which has proven to be an obstacle for many New Yorkers facing technical barriers.

While Cuomo said he believed the state was making progress in deploying the vaccine, things are slowing down not because of distribution but because of reduced demand.

“But we’re seeing a reduction in the number of people coming in for vaccines. We were doing about 175,000 vaccines statewide every 24 hours. That number is down to now about 115,000 vaccines every 24 hours,” Cuomo added. “You don’t have to call you don’t have to make an appointment, all New Yorkers 16 Plus, just come in to a mass vaccination site on Thursday, and you are eligible for a vaccine.”

The embattled governor did not take questions from members of the media during this appearance after a testy exchange between him and a number of outlets regarding the pending allegations of sexual misconduct against him which are currently under review by both the Assembly Judiciary Committee and Attorney General Letitia James’ office.

Cuomo denied the allegations against him once again and expressed confidence he would be vindicated in the AG’s report on the investigation.

This story first appeared on amNY.com.

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Cuomo Eases More Covid Restrictions, Grapples With Questions of Misconduct

Darren McGee/Office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo

Offices will be able to allow workers to return at 75 percent capacity, and casinos and gaming facilities will go from 25 to 50 percent on May 15, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced at a news conference in Syracuse on Monday.

In addition, gyms and fitness centers on Long Island and across the state, aside from New York City, can increase capacity from 33 to 50 percent on May 15.

Outdoor stadiums, such as Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, will increase from 20 to 33 percent beginning on May 19. Last week, Cuomo announced that indoor arenas such as Madison Square Garden and Nassau Coliseum will be able to increase their capacity from 10 to 25 percent, also beginning on May 19.

“We are making tremendous progress in the fight against Covid-19. Our vaccination rates are going up and the positivity and hospitalization rates are going down, so now we are going to open the valves of our economy even further,” Cuomo said. “This is all great news, but we are not out of the woods yet. Washing hands, wearing masks, and staying socially distanced are critical tools each of us can use to slow the spread as we continue our efforts to defeat Covid once and for all.”

These announcements come as vaccination rates continue to rise while infection rates continue on the decline, according to the Cuomo administration, which hopes to ramp up commerce leading into the summer months which are usually the prime season for profit these venues.

But the governor also took a beating from members of the media who shot questions regarding the ongoing allegations of sexual misconduct against him as well as the U.S. Department of Justice inquiry into nursing home deaths due to policies put in place early in the pandemic, which were found to be under recorded by about 50 percent.

Cuomo denied all accusations of sexual harassment and expressed confidence that Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation will vindicate him, rather than force him out of office.

“Yeah, the report can’t say anything different, because I didn’t do anything wrong,” Cuomo said. “[The DOJ is] doing a thorough review of the nursing home situation, the nursing homes with that is just going to come down to in my opinion, is the politics of Covid. It was always a political debate. Frankly, it started between myself and President Trump about who was responsible for Covid.”

Cuomo said he did not regret asking former staffer Charlotte Bennett to come to the governor’s mansion to assist him with technology problems involving his smartphone, claiming his administration had opened opportunities for women to gain status.

According to Cuomo, none of the state’s managing the Covid-19 in nursing homes counted the deaths the same leading there to be a considerable level of “gray” area left open to interpretation to some degree.

“The number was always going to be what the number was, but making sure the number was accurate, is what was important. Nursing homes were ground zero for Covid. We all knew that that was true of all across the country,” Cuomo said. “The finger pointing, that is just more of the ugly politics of the time.”

The state recorded 41 Covid-19 deaths on Sunday while 44.1 percent of New Yorkers were logged for having at least one dose of a vaccine. The statewide Covid-19 positivity rate on a 7-day average is 2.13 percent and 2.27 percent on Long Island. The loosening of restrictions coming in May is a direct result of the improved numbers, according to the governor.

This story first appeared on amNY.com.

-With Briana Bonfiglio and Joe Pantorno

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Renderings of Revitalized Penn Station Fill Cavernous Halls With Light, Improve Visibility

penn station
Rendering photo courtesy MTA.

A new vision for the aesthetics of the revitalization of Penn Station is taking shape as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority unveiled new renderings of what the nation’s largest transit hub could look like in the coming years.

During the MTA’s Wednesday board meeting, Chief Development Officer Janno Lieber presented the new look which will provide grand entrances and glass ceilings to flood the concourses with sunlight; a departure from the cavernous, contemporary conditions commuters experience daily.

The master plan for the Empire Station Complex expands the dated amenities at Penn Station not only to the west with Moynihan Train Hall which opened in December, but also with the acquisition of property a block to the south, something Lieber said will be fully facilitated by the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan.

Rendering photo courtesy MTA.

“It is especially timely for us to be looking at this at the moment when the Biden administration’s American Jobs Plan infrastructure initiative has begun to percolate its way through the Congress, because this is a transformative project, really,” Lieber said. “Transforming Penn Station not only is necessary to make sure that the Gateway vision – the long-awaited Gateway vision – is achieved, but also because Penn Station speaks so powerfully to the goals, the climate goals, and the equity goals that the Biden administration has set forth so strongly.”

A slideshow of the presentation by Lieber can be viewed here.

According to Lieber, the Gateway Tunnel project is quickly gathering momentum in Washington D.C. with support from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and President Joe Biden, which prompts the MTA to begin preparations for the increased traffic that Penn Station will need to handle.

The Biden administration hopes to pump $85 billion into transit, $55 billion to bring systems into a state of good repair, as well as $25 billion for expansions and $5 billion for renovations to infrastructure that will bring stations into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. This will be dispersed nationally.

While the renderings provided by the MTA offer a few different options for divvying up space, MTA Chairman Pat Foye said the agency is nowhere near coming to any major decisions on the direction the development will take apart from the need for capacity improvements in anticipation of the Gateway Tunnel project which will go into the southern annex.

“It will have substantial transportation benefits for Long Island Rail Road customers, Metro-North customers, subway customers, as well as commuters on New Jersey Transit and those traveling from Boston and Washington and other places on Amtrak,” Foye said. “Obviously, no decision is close to being made, but a compelling opportunity in the beginning of a serious public discussion about the options for Penn Station.”

Rendering photo courtesy MTA.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration believes the expansion of Penn Station will anticipate a growth in mass transit ridership, which pre-pandemic was about 600,000 daily commuters through the transit hub, but by 2038 could be around 800,000.

“The Empire Station Complex is a transformative project that will support and deliver on the long-delayed Gateway vision for the entire East Coast and enhance the passenger experience in North America’s busiest transportation hub. Together with our partners in New Jersey and at Amtrak, New York State is moving quickly to advance this comprehensive plan,” Cuomo said. “These reconstruction alternatives provide a framework for a new and improved Penn Station that serves as an appropriate doorway to a world-class city. Every single day, we get closer to the end of COVID-19 and the beginning of a new post-pandemic economy, and this project will be a cornerstone of the revitalized New York City that we must build together.”

Factored into the renderings in Lieber’s presentation is more access to and from the platforms to get people in and out faster. Lieber also wants Penn Station, buried beneath Madison Square Garden, for the most part, to be more visible to people who may not be familiar with where they need to go to board a train.

This story first appeared on amNY.com.

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NY Budget Deal Includes Legal Sports Betting, Billions in Renter, Schools Relief

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at his offices in New York City, U.S. March 24, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

State legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo reached an agreement on Tuesday afternoon for spending plan going into fiscal year 2022 — but the handshake came six days beyond the April 1 deadline.

The budget includes $29.5 billion in aid to schools, $29 billion in public and private “green economy investments,” $2.4 billion for rent and mortgage relief, legalized mobile sports betting and other facets that Cuomo believes will contribute to a recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic as vaccinations become the norm across the state.

“New York State approached this year’s budget with many challenges and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “Working and middle-class taxpayers will receive the relief they desperately need, while the wealthiest New Yorkers will help their neighbors. This budget makes New York better for all. In the remaining months of session, the Senate Majority will continue to deliver results that are reflective of our progressive values and priorities.”

Windfall from the federal government helped aid the state in closing budget gaps, but it was likely the ongoing accusations of sexual misconduct against the governor that sent the most amount of doubt through legislators minds. Weeks ago, Stewart-Cousins called on his resignation out of concern that the scandals caused a distraction to the business of government — yet the budget deal got done anyway, albeit nearly a week late.

The state will be fueled by $111 billion in operating funds and $212 billion in spending, which Cuomo has framed as more of an investment in recovery rather than a simple budget and as such could impact the state’s financial standing for the next decade.

“New York was ambushed early and hit hardest by COVID, devastating our economy and requiring urgent and unprecedented emergency spending to manage the pandemic,” Cuomo said. “Thanks to the State’s strong fiscal management and relentless pursuit to secure the federal support that the pandemic demanded, we not only balanced our budget, we are also making historic investments to reimagine, rebuild and renew New York in the aftermath of the worst health and economic crisis in a century.”

Other aspects of the budget deal include:

  • $2.4 billion for child care
  • $2.1 billion for excluded workers
  • $1 billion for small business recovery
  • A first-in-the-nation plan to make broadband internet affordable
  • Legalizing mobile sports betting

“Budgets are a statement of values, and in my two decades of service to the people of New York I can’t think of a more far-reaching and impactful budget than this. It meets longstanding goals of our Assembly Majority and addresses the historic inequities that have existed for too long,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said.

The school aid accounts for a $3 billion boost in funding over the year prior as the transition from at-home learning to in-person classes continues.

In his January State of the State presentation, Cuomo expressed the intention to build out New York’s green infrastructure through off-shore wind and other environmentally sound means, a prospect which he believed at the time would cost $26 billion.

This story first appeared on amNY.com.
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Biden Administration Moves Congestion Pricing Environmental Review Process Forward

Getty Images

Advocates for the state’s plan to toll drivers going into Manhattan finally got a break from the Biden administration.

After years since the proposal to charge vehicles entering Manhattan’s central business district was proposed in 2018 and adopted by the state legislature in 2019, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has given the MTA the criteria it will need in a study to approve the plan.

Stonewalling from the Trump administration has stalled the plan which President Joe Biden and his cabinet have committed to moving forward since before taking the oath of office in January, a promise which Governor Andrew Cuomo said they made good on Tuesday morning.

“Congestion pricing is an internationally proven method to reduce traffic congestion, enhance the availability and reliability of public transportation, and improve our air quality, and it will play a critical role as New York and the nation begin to recover from the pandemic and build back stronger and better than before,” Cuomo said. “This advancement is also another step forward in generating the $15 billion the state needs to fund the MTA’s five-year $51.5 billion capital plan, which will transform the accessibility, reliability and convenience of the system for users of all ages and abilities.”

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Pat Foye issued a statement concurring with the governor about the needs that congestion pricing will fulfill, but explaining that the federal guidance on the precise questions the study will need to answer is what has really put congestion pricing on hold.

“With this guidance on an environmental assessment now in hand, the MTA is ready to hit the ground running to implement the Central Business District Tolling Program,” Foye said. “We are already working on preliminary design for the roadway toll system and infrastructure, and we look forward to working with our colleagues at the Federal Highway Administration to conduct the review and broad public outreach so that we can move forward with the remainder of the program as soon as possible.”

Early proposals for congestion pricing put recommended prices of $11 for cars, ut a study from Cornell University in June found that $20 toll for entering Manhattan below 60th Street has been studied by groups who say it could reduce air pollution by 40% in New York City.

“Riders welcome the Biden administration’s prompt decision to order an environmental assessment of congestion pricing. This accelerated public review will expedite essential new revenue to make New York’s subway system reliable and accessible,” Riders Alliance Executive Director Betsy Plum said. “Governor Cuomo must now complete the assessment as quickly as possible so the MTA can start congestion pricing with no new special interest exemptions in 2022.”

But the proposal has been a point of contention for many outer-borough elected officials who say their districts will be negatively impacted by the policy, even though relatively few New Yorkers would bear the brunt of what many have called a regressive tax on drivers. Some have expressed skepticism in the MTA’s ability to be transparent and responsible in the way it will spend the money.

This story first appeared on amNY.com.

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Cuomo Impeachment Probe May Take Months, Law Firm’s Ties to Cuomo Raise Doubts

nassau da
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at LaGuardia Airport's new Terminal B, June 10, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Assembly Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) committed to creating a transparent process in the impeachment investigation against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but said that it would likely take months before reaching a conclusion.

But questions of the integrity of the investigation, to be led by law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, were most prominent during the hearing.

While promising a safe space for the women accusing Cuomo of sexual misconduct, Lavine said during a committee meeting on Tuesday that the inquiry will not be limited to these accusations. The investigation will also take into consideration the scandals pertaining to the Cuomo administration’s handling of COVID-19 nursing home death data, as well as the reported doubts about the structural integrity of the Mario Cuomo Bridge.

Concerns surrounding attorney Dennis Glazer’s association with the both the law firm and Governor Cuomo was dismissed by a representative who stated that Glazer had not been associated with their firm in any capacity for a number of years. The representative stressed that any concerns of a conflict of interest or bias were unfounded in this regard.

He had previously served 31 years at the firm, where he was head of the Litigation Practice.

Glazer was appointed Chair of the Purchase College Council by Governor Andrew Cuomo in August 2019. His wife is Chief Judge of New York State Janet DiFiore, another Cuomo appointee. If the Assembly passes articles of impeachment against the governor, DiFiore would preside over his trial in the state Senate.

But Greg Andres, an attorney at Davis Polk & Wardwell, stressed that the close Cuomo ties will not bind the firm’s ability to conduct an impartial investigation.

“We deal with high profile matters on a daily basis and routinely, and our lawyers understand and we will remind them of the need for confidentiality in these matters,” Andres said. “We certainly understand that, we will not be trying this case or investigating it in the press, and we’ll work with the committee to both balance the need for confidentiality and the need for transparency, I’m hoping that today’s committee meeting goes a long way to making clear to the public exactly what processes are being followed, whether it relates to conflicts, whether it relates to our relationship to the committee, whether it relates to the scope of our investigation, there certainly is a need for transparency, but in the day to day operation of the investigation confidentiality is vitally important and I think both as lawyers in the government in our various roles and as lawyers in private practice, we are particularly understanding and sensitive to that need.”

Polk said the firm would provide updates and reports to the Judiciary Committee on a regular basis as the investigation progresses. Documents will be requested from relevant parties for preservation of evidence, and individuals will be interviewed over time.

In addition, the committee questioned the firm which has been retained by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on how they plan to conduct the investigation and assess evidence for or against Governor Cuomo such as questioning victims in consideration of Attorney General Letitia James’ own investigation.

Lindsey Boylan, a current candidate for Manhattan borough president and the first of eight women to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment in December, has expressed doubts about the integrity of the assembly’s investigation, claiming Heastie was creating a slow and closed-door process that would likely be drawn out beyond reason.

This story first appeared on amNY.com.

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NY Allows Greater Capacity at Sports Venues Starting April 1 Ahead of Mets, Yankees Home Openers

sports venues
A man arrives to receive the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine outside Citi Field, the home stadium of MLB's New York Mets, during the coronavirus disease pandemic in the Queens borough of New York City, New York, U.S., February 10, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Embattled Gov. Andrew Cuomo shunned the press Thursday in an announcement that he would be allowing greater capacity for sports venues with Vice Chairman of the New York Mets, Andy Cohen, and other stakeholders.

On April 1, the governor will be allowing indoor sports venues to operate at a max of 10% and 20% in outdoor venues such as Citi Field as long as fans in attendance prove that they have received a negative COVID-19 test in the past 72 hours prior to the game, or if they have a vaccination card.

“As time moves on, and as our experience grows, we see how the games work. We then right away do what’s called contact tracing where we follow up on the game to see if anybody got infected etc,” Cuomo said. “And I think you’re going to see the capacity increase and the testing requirements decrease as we get more evidence, but we want to start safe and smart. That means Citi Field at 384 fans, Yankee Stadium at 10,850 fans. The crowd makes the ballgame.”

According to Al Leiter, a former player for the team, a return to the stadium was reminiscent of the questions surrounding gathering a big crowd after the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

“But I remember what baseball meant, and we weren’t sure… about whether it was the right thing to come back after the heinous tragedy of the World Trade Center on 9/11,” Leiter said. “I’ll tell you, folks, the fact that we did and when we did, and wearing those hats of all the respective first responders, and knowing how special it was as players at the time to be carrying the baton as a major league baseball player, and being in New York City, it was the right thing.”

Cuomo encouraged New Yorkers to practice social distancing and to vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to keep the infection rate low.

Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, however, are currently serving as mass vaccination sites for New York City residents and how games could conflict with these operations was not made clear.

This story first appeared on amNY.com.

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