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It’s time for a citywide victory party: America has beaten the pandemic.
Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio should admit it today and give New York a full reopening so we can all celebrate over this first long weekend of summer — freely eating, drinking and laughing with the friends and family we’ve seen so little of the past year.
No, COVID isn’t extinguished in the United States, and the pandemic still rages in other nations (although the World Health Organization reports global cases fell another 14 percent last week). But US cases just hit their lowest level in nearly a year, with a 25 percent drop — and will clearly keep declining.
Deaths and hospitalizations are falling weekly, too, with the latter down more than 80 percent from the January peak.
Cuomo announced Tuesday that New York’s seven-day average positivity rate has dropped for 50 straight days, down to 0.89 percent.
And rates will only go lower: CDC chief Dr. Rochelle Walensky says the country is unlikely to see a spike in cases after the Memorial Day weekend.
That’s thanks, in great part, to Operation Warp Speed, which saw vaccines developed and distributed in record time. As of Tuesday, half of American adults are fully vaccinated.
New York is doing even better, with 55 percent of adults fully vaxxed and 64 percent with at least one jab. (The city alone has used more than 8 million doses.) The most vulnerable are even more protected, with 85 percent of those 65 to 74 fully vaccinated.
Add in those who’ve had the virus, and we’re at very high immunity — high enough that transmissions are far below epidemic rates.
The virus isn’t gone, but it’s moved far down the list of threats we all encounter daily.
We should all still encourage the hesitant to get jabbed, for their sake and to further block any transmission, and all Americans may well need a booster shot later in the year. And, yes, it’s in the US interest to get the rest of the world vaccinated to keep COVID down permanently.
But the ranks of the vaxxed continue to go up, and the shots are incredibly effective: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that just .01 percent of vaccinated Americans have reported breakthrough infections. And more than a quarter of those were asymptomatic.
So, pols, lose the irrational overcautiousness, and let New York come back to life.
Cuomo has finally allowed bars and restaurants to come back to 100 percent capacity — but his social-distancing requirements still limit them. You can’t get close to full capacity at a bar when customers must sit six feet apart. Capacity limits still exist for indoor and even outdoor gatherings, although the risk of transmission outside is next to nil. Masks are still required on public transit and in schools and nursing homes, among other places.
Cuomo isn’t even lifting the indoor-dining curfew of midnight until Monday — although it never made a lick of sense. Let it go for the holiday!
Enduring more than a year of shifting restrictions, from a near-total lockdown to a curfew on the city that never sleeps, and suffering the loss of lives and livelihoods, hard-hit New York was one of the hardest-hit states, and we deserve to celebrate the pandemic’s end and summer’s start in true Gotham style.
Let the city come back big and loud — the sense of hope will spread.
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