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Cuomo says the state is ready to reduce some COVID-19 restrictions

Governor Cuomo
Posted at 10:34 PM, Jan 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-26 20:56:11-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — COVID-19 numbers indicate that the holiday spike is over. In his briefing at Roswell Park on Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state can start reducing restrictions.

"We're at a new place now," Cuomo said.

Cuomo said to expect an announcement Wednesday about positive adjustments.

He didn't specify the changes, but said the state is looking at reducing restrictions and reducing cluster zones. The governor didn't say if those looser restrictions would include rolling back or eliminating the 10 p.m. closing time for bars and restaurants. He did say the announcement will focus on the whole state, not one specific region.

“The situation is basically true all across the state," he said. "Even Western New York, which was a problematic area for many, many weeks, the numbers are much, much better in Western New York."

Cuomo also announced all elective surgeries in Erie County can resume.

Kaleida Health spokesman Michael P. Hughes said the hospital network does about 3,000 elective procedures a month.

“The pause in elective surgeries the past couple months, coupled with the pause in elective surgeries back in the spring, has had a significant impact on all hospitals, not just Kaleida Health,” Hughes said.

Hughes said the loss of elective surgeries has cost Kaleida millions of dollars.

Catholic Health said it will reach out to patients in the coming days. ECMC said calls for re-scheduling will go out as soon as possible.

While the positivity rate is on the decline, UB's Chief of Infectious Diseases Dr. Thomas Russo noted there are still many more COVID-19 cases a day than during the summer, when the postivity rate hovered in the 1% range.

I mean there’s lots of room for improvement, don’t get me wrong, we still have way too many cases, but we’re doing ok," Russo said. "And I've always had faith in the people of Erie County and Western New York to follow public health measures to keep the number of cases down, and right now I think we're doing a pretty good job. We just need to keep it up, and not let our guard down until we get those vaccines into a critical number of individuals."

Much of Erie County has been in an orange zone since mid-November, parts of Niagara County have been in a yellow zone since then as well.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and other local officials have called on the governor to reevaluate Erie County's orange zone for about two weeks.