U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Long Island/Queens) wasted little time after announcing Monday that he is running in the Democratic Primary for governor next year with rolling out his comprehensive COVID holiday plan for the state on Wednesday.
In his PowerPoint presentation during a zoom press conference, Suozzi laid out COVID mitigation tactics including encouraging people to get vaccinated, the importance of booster shots, a color-coded microcluster strategy to see where hotspots are, as well as an aggressive testing strategy and a spike zone contingency plan.
“The most effective thing you can do is talk about what people are thinking about already,” said the Governor-hopeful.
The presentation included a slide showing how COVID infections have risen in the last seven day statewide by 4.19%. The most dramatic rise in positive infection rates is Western New York (10.53%), the Finger Lakes region (9.87%), the Mohawk Valley (9.76%), and the North Country (9.40%). Conversely, New York City has had the lowest infection rates at 1.87%.
While the Omicron variant has yet to be found in New York, COVID’s rise in infection rates come as families are gathering and parties are happening during the holiday season.
When asked his thoughts on the current administration’s handling of the COVID holiday plan, Suozzi expressed that he believed Hochul could be doing a better job, specifically by releasing a comprehensive plan instead of her “piecemeal” agenda.
Suozzi stressed the need for a marketing campaign and incentives to get vaccinated. With the highest COVID rates currently in upstate and western New York, Hochul’s hometown, Suozzi said this would be the perfect time for Governor Hochul to be a leader in her own neighborhood.
Suozzi also suggested doctors and hospitals be more involved, specifically by promoting vaccination and boosters to patients and their families.
Suozzi’s introduction of a color-coded microcluster strategy was similar to plans both former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio rolled out during the tail end of the pandemic’s height. It includes red as a “Micro-Cluster” zone, orange as a “Warning” zone, yellow as a “Precautionary” zone, and green as a “Normal” Zone.
Suozzi said based on factors like infection rate, the State should provide guidance to county and local officials on issues like non-essential medical procedures, mask requirements, capacity limits, and vaccination entry requirements for restaurants, sporting and entertainment events.
Suozzi’s plan also included doubling the number of state-run mass vaccination sites, which is currently 13; and flooding the state with pop-up testing sites and vans, particularly in highly trafficked places like train stations and malls.