Joe Biden Criticizes States for Coronavirus Vaccine Distribution: Too Rigid and Confusing

President-elect Joe Biden criticized some states for too many restrictions on the delivery of the coronavirus vaccine in a speech on Friday.

“The process of establishing priority groups is driven by science, but the problem is the implementation has been too rigid and confusing,” Biden said.

Some states, like New York, have implemented strict rules about the administration of the vaccine, prioritizing front-line medical workers to get the vaccine first, followed by essential workers such as grocery store employees and teachers.

The president-elect did not specifically call out New York Governor Andrew Cuomo after well-publicized reports of medical staff in the state having to throw out the vaccine because of a lack of candidates meeting the strict requirements for getting a dose.

Cuomo also threatened health care providers with fines of up to $1 million dollars if they did not follow the vaccine prioritization rules and even threatened to revoke the state licenses for medical institutions.

Biden said that the majority of Americans did not know who should be vaccinated first, but that it was clearly not going fast enough.

“What they do know is there are tens of millions of doses of vaccines sitting unused in a freezer, while people who want and need the vaccine can’t get it,” he said.

Biden said he would fix the problem by “encouraging states” to vaccinate more people, including anyone 65 and older.

“It won’t mean that everyone in these groups will get vaccinated immediately, as supply is not where it needs to be,” Biden said.

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AOC Demands Biden Follow Through on Stimulus: ‘$2,000 Does Not Mean $1,400’

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is urging President-elect Joe Biden to follow through on providing $2,000 coronavirus relief checks to the American people following the reveal of his $1.9 trillion spending plan.

Biden unveiled a $1.9 trillion spending plan on Thursday evening, which he believes will speed up vaccine rollout and assist states, local governments, businesses, and individuals in the era of the Chinese coronavirus. However, while Democrats have overwhelmingly continued to call for $2,000 direct payments — a proposal President Trump initially backed — Biden’s proposal “falls short,” as Breitbart News detailed:

Instead, it provides for what Breitbart News estimates would be around $320 billion in direct payments of $1,400 for most Americans. Biden’s aides say this amounts to the promised $2,000 when coupled with the $600 included in the aid bill President Donald Trump signed last year.

Ocasio-Cortez, a far-left member of the “Squad,” indicated that such is not enough.

“$2,000 means $2,000. $2,000 does not mean $1,400,” she said, the Washington Post reported.

However, Biden’s team contends that direct payments of $1,400 would still fulfill the promise when combined with the $600 distributed through the $2.3 trillion coronavirus relief and government spending measure President Trump signed last month.

Trump repeatedly called on lawmakers to raise the amount of the individual checks, but the effort reached a dead end in the Senate, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) proposing his own measure that which included $2,000 checks while addressing Section 230 and establishing a commission to investigate allegations of voter fraud. He later railed against his Democrat colleagues’ demands, accusing them of advocating “socialism for rich people.”

As Breitbart News reported, Biden’s proposal also includes:

  • $350 billion in state and local government aid
  • $170 billion for K-12 schools and institutions of higher education
  • Direct payments of $1,400 to most Americans, costing around $320 billion according to a Breitbart News’ estimate
  • Enhanced unemployment benefits increasing payments by $400 per week through the end of September
  • $50 billion for Covid-19 testing
  • $20 billion toward a national vaccine program
  • Raising the Child Tax Credit to $3,000 per child and making it fully refundable for 2021

On Thursday evening, Ocasio-Cortez added that “unemployment benefits should be retroactive too”:

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Big Tech Coalition Is Developing a Digital COVID Vaccination Passport

A coalition of tech and health organizations including Oracle, Microsoft, and the Mayo Clinic, is reportedly working to develop a digital COVID-19 vaccination passport that would allow businesses, airlines, and governments to check if individuals have received the vaccine.

The Hill reports that a coalition of health and technology organizations are working to develop a new digital COVID-19 vaccination passport that could be checked by businesses, airlines, and countries to confirm if an individual has received the vaccine. The coalition includes tech giants such as Microsoft and Oracle, along with the Mayo Clinic.

On Thursday, the Vaccination Credential Initiative announced that it is developing technology to confirm vaccinations in case governments mandate that people provide proof that they have received a vaccination in order to travel.

The coalition hopes that the tech will allow people to “demonstrate their health status to safely return to travel, work, school and life while protecting their data privacy.” The group is using work from the Commons Project’s international digital document that verifies a person has tested negative for COVID-19.

Currently, the Commons Project’s system, which was created in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation, is being utilized by three major airline alliances. The coalition is reportedly currently in discussions with several governments to create a program requiring either negative tests or proof of vaccination to enter the country, according to Commons Project chief executive Paul Meyer.

Meyer stated in a release: “The goal of the Vaccination Credential Initiative is to empower individuals with digital access to their vaccination records so they can use tools like CommonPass to safely return to travel, work, school, and life, while protecting their data privacy.”

Mike Sicilia, the executive vice president of Oracle’s Global Business Units, commented that the passport “needs to be as easy as online banking,” and added: “We are committed to working collectively with the technology and medical communities, as well as global governments, to ensure people will have secure access to this information where and when they need it.”

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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‘No Vaccine, No Job’ Declares Anti-Brexit Pimlico Plumbers Boss

Anti-Brexit businessman Charlie Mullins has vowed to introduce a “no vaccine, no job” policy, barring those who refuse vaccination for the Chinese coronavirus from his employment.

The multimillionaire founder of Pimlico Plumbers said that he is allocating up to £1 million to innoculate his workforce once the vaccinations are available for private purchase.

“No vaccine, no job… When we go off to Africa and Caribbean countries, we have to have a jab for malaria — we don’t think about it, we just do it. So why would we accept something within our country that’s going to kill us when we can have a vaccine to stop it?” Mr Mullins told City A.M. on Wednesday.

He added that his company was going to make it “standard” in all the contracts that “you’re required to have a vaccine”. If an applicant cannot provide proof of vaccination, then they would not even be offered an interview.

“We won’t be employing people in the future unless they’ve got a vaccine,” Mullins bluntly told the financial newspaper.

Mullins had helped bankroll the successful 2016 High Court legal challenge which stopped then-Prime Minister Theresa May from triggering Article 50 — the legal mechanism for leaving the European Union — without a vote in the Remainer-dominated Parliament.

Employment lawyer Jonathan Chamberlain said that business owners should not force staff to take the COVID-19 vaccine and if they attempt to do so they could face a lawsuit, which they are likely to lose.

“Employees can refuse and, if they get fired as a result, they’re likely to have strong claims against their employer, potentially some very expensive ones. As the law currently stands, not even the Government can insist the general public get vaccinated so the courts are unlikely to have much sympathy with a private employer who tries to force their staff to have the jab,” Mr Chamberlain said, according to The Guardian.

The head of a small businesses association in Australia made similar threats in August. Council of Small Business Organisations Australia CEO Peter Strong had told 7NEWS: “If one of my staff members says, ‘no, I’m against it’, then I’m going to have to say I’m sorry, you are a threat to my business.”

“It’s not discrimination, that’s a business decision,” Mr Strong claimed.

The United Kingdom’s Vaccine Minister, Nadim Zahawi, said last month that while it would never mandate forced vaccinations, private businesses may demand “immunity passports” before offering services, including sports stadiums, cinemas, or restaurants.

Follow Breitbart London on Facebook: Breitbart London

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UK Govt Shock Ad Campaign Claims Buying a Coffee, Seeing Friends ‘Costs Lives’

A series of new social media ads which aim to shock Britons into staying locked in their homes and avoid interacting with other people claim that buying a cup of coffee could “cost lives”.

The ads were released on Thursday, with one Facebook meme labelled “Don’t let a coffee cost lives”.

“Unnecessary social contact puts you and others at risk. If you are buying takeaway food or drinks, remember: wash your hands, wear a face-covering indoors and stay 2 metres apart from others,” the post shared by the official UK Government Facebook page claimed.

Another posted on Twitter by the prime minister’s account claimed that “catch-ups” with friends “costs lives”, adding: “Meeting others unnecessarily could be the link in a chain of transmission that has a vulnerable person at the end. Please, stay at home this weekend.”

Both images are tinted with red and yellow to affect warning or hazard — i.e., create fear — with a government source telling The Times on Friday that the purpose is to spread the government’s message to “follow the rules by covering your face, washing your hands and making space”.

The focus on Britons buying coffees or seeing friends came a week after media attention was drawn to the case of two women who were surrounded by police after pulling up at a nature reserve, read their rights, and fined £200 for breaching coronavirus regulations.

The two women allegedly had not followed the spirit of “local” exercise by travelling a mere five miles to a beauty spot for some fresh air, with officers telling them that their coffees they were carrying were also not allowed because it constituted a “picnic”.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock enthusiastically backed Derbyshire Police for fining the women, claiming that officers were doing “an absolutely brilliant job”.

“I am absolutely going to back the police,” he said, alleging that “every” alleged “flex” of the strict rules “can be fatal”. The remarks proved an embarrassment for the government when days later, the force apologised to the two women and rescinded the fines.

Imperial College London epidemiologist Professor Neil Ferguson, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday that some measures could last until the Summer, and lifting them would only be a “gradual process to the Autumn”.

Ferguson — considered the architect of the first Chinese coronavirus lockdown — was forced to resign from his senior government advisory role in disgrace after it was revealed that the married epidemiologist had invited his lover to his house twice, breaking his own lockdown rules. His opinions have come into prominence again in recent months, and he is listed on the government website as a participant of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

This week, Home Secretary Priti Patel revealed that police had handed out across the whole of the UK 45,000 fines related to covid restrictions between March 27th and December 21st.

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Joe Biden Unveils $1.9 Trillion Spending Plan

President-elect Joe Biden unveiled a coronavirus plan Thursday that he claims will turn the tide on the pandemic, speeding up the vaccine rollout, and providing financial help to individuals, states, and local governments and businesses struggling with the prolonged economic fallout.

The proposal reflects the priorities of Democrats, spending more money on aiding state governments, schools, and colleges than stimulus payments to individuals. It also includes a minimum wage hike, a measure sought by Democrats long before the pandemic struck.

The proposal includes:

  • $350 billion in state and local government aid
  • $170 billion for K-12 schools and institutions of higher education
  • Direct payments of $1,400 to most Americans, costing around $320 billion according to a Breitbart News’ estimate
  • Enhanced unemployment benefits increasing payments by $400 per week through the end of September
  • $50 billion for Covid-19 testing
  • $20 billion toward a national vaccine program
  • Raising the Child Tax Credit to $3,000 per child and making it fully refundable for 2021

The non-spending proposals include:

  • Hiking the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour
  • Extending the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums until the end of September
  • Extended family leave

Called the “American Rescue Plan,” it would amount to $1.9 trillion in spending. Despite the massive cost, the plan does not focus on creating jobs or set aside money for building American infrastructure.

Those things will have to wait for a second bill that Biden says will be introduced in February, to also include measures, his advisers say, will combat climate change and advance racial equity.

The proposal falls short of expectations for $2,000 direct stimulus payments. Instead, it provides for what Breitbart News estimates would be around $320 billion in direct payments of $1,400 for most Americans. Biden’s aides say this amounts to the promised $2,000 when coupled with the $600 included in the aid bill President Donald Trump signed last year.

The proposal includes an even larger amount of funds for state and local governments, schools, and colleges. Biden’s plan provides for $350 billion in state and local government aid and another $170 billion for K-12 schools and colleges.

Under Biden’s multipronged strategy, only about $400 billion would go directly to combating the pandemic, while the rest is focused on economic relief and aid to states and localities.

Biden’s aides claimed, without evidence, that the proposal would advance his target of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration and help move toward the objective of reopening most schools by the spring.

In an odd decision when unemployment is extremely high among low-income Americans, the proposal shoehorns inthe long-term Democratic policy aim of hiking the minimum wage to $15 an hour. That is likely to make it harder for low-income Americans to find jobs, putting further strains on state budgets funding employment benefits.

The proposal also expands paid leave for workers and increases tax credits for families with children, goals shared by many pro-family conservatives seeking to make family formation more affordable.

The political outlook for the legislation remained unclear. In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer praised Biden for including liberal priorities, saying they would move quickly to pass it. But Democrats have narrow margins in both chambers of Congress, and Republicans will push back on issues that range from increasing the minimum wage to providing more money for states, while demanding inclusion of their priorities, such as liability protection for businesses.

“Remember that a bipartisan $900 billion #COVID19 relief bill became law just 18 days ago,” tweeted Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

The emergency legislation would be paid for with borrowed money, adding to trillions in debt the government has already incurred to confront the pandemic. Aides said Biden will make the case that the additional spending and borrowing is necessary to prevent the economy from sliding into an even deeper hole. Interest rates are low, making debt more manageable. Inflation is below the Federal Reserve’s target, indicating that the economy has enough slack to withstand additional demand introduced by deficit spending.

Biden has long held that economic recovery is inextricably linked with controlling the coronavirus. “Our work begins with getting COVID under control,” he declared in his victory speech. “We cannot repair the economy, restore our vitality, or relish life’s most precious moments until we get it under control.”

Despite this claim, the economy in the final six months of the Trump administration has out-performed the expectations of most economists. Re-opening many businesses and adjustments to business operations, including encouraging employees to work from home and making workplaces more amenable to social distancing, have allowed many businesses to regain their footing.

The plan comes as a divided nation is in the grip of the pandemic’s most dangerous wave yet. So far, more than 385,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. And government numbers out Thursday reported a jump in weekly unemployment claims, to 965,000, a sign that rising infections are forcing businesses to cut back and lay off workers.

About $20 billion would be allocated for a more disciplined focus on vaccination, on top of some $8 billion already approved by Congress. Biden has called for setting up mass vaccination centers and sending mobile units to hard-to-reach areas.

The plan provides $50 billion to expand testing, which is seen as key to reopening most schools by the end of the new administration’s first 100 days. About $130 billion would be allocated to help schools reopen without risking further contagion.

The plan would fund the hiring of 100,000 public health workers to focus on encouraging people to get vaccinated and on tracing the contacts of those infected with the coronavirus.

There’s also a proposal to boost investment in genetic sequencing, and to help track new virus strains, including the more contagious variants identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Throughout the plan, there’s a focus on ensuring that minority communities that have borne the brunt of the pandemic are not shortchanged on vaccines and treatments, aides said.

With the new proposals comes a call to redouble efforts on the basics.

Biden is asking Americans to override their sense of pandemic fatigue and recommit to wearing masks, practicing social distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings, particularly larger ones. He contends it’s still the surest way to slow the COVID-19 wave, with more than 4,400 deaths reported just on Tuesday.

Biden’s biggest challenge will be to “win the hearts and minds of the American people to follow his lead,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a public health expert and emergency physician.

With the backing of Congress and the expertise of private and government scientists, the Trump administration has delivered two highly effective vaccines. and more are on the way. Yet a month after the first shots were given, the nation’s vaccination campaign is off to a slow start, with about 10.3 million people getting the first of two shots, although more than 29 million doses have been delivered.

Biden believes the key to speeding that up lies not only in delivering more vaccine but also in working closely with states and local communities to get shots into the arms of more people. The Trump administration provided the vaccine to states and set guidelines for who should get priority for shots, but they largely left it up to state and local officials to organize their vaccination campaigns.

“This is going to entail coordination at all levels, as well as resources,” said Dr. Nadine Gracia, executive vice president of the nonpartisan Trust for America’s Health. “There is a commitment the (incoming) administration has articulated to address the needs of communities.”

Biden has set a goal of administering 100 million shots in his first 100 days. The pace of vaccination is approaching one million shots a day, but 1.8 million a day would be needed to reach widespread or “herd” immunity by the summer, according to a recent estimate by the American Hospital Association. Wen says the pace should be even higher — closer to three million a day.

It’s still unclear how the new administration will address the issue of vaccine hesitancy, the doubts and suspicions that keep many people from getting a shot. Polls show it’s particularly a problem among Black Americans. “It’s important to acknowledge the reasons why it exists and work to earn trust and build vaccine confidence in communities,” said Gracia.

Next Wednesday, when Biden is sworn in as president, marks the anniversary of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States.

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The Associated Press and AP writer Josh Boak contributed to this report.

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Vaccine Passports Trialed in the UK, as EU Leaders Push for ‘Standardised’ COVID Travel Passes

British government-sponsored vaccine passports will be issued to thousands of Britons after the receive the coronavirus inoculations in a ‘trial’ run of the programme this month.

The health passport — which will come in the form of a smartphone application — has been developed by the biometric firm iProov in partnership with the cybersecurity company Mvine.

The trial is expected to be completed by March and will be overseen by two directors of public health in a local authority, yet to be announced. The stated goal of the project is to see how health passports can function as a means of tracking how many people have received the first or second dose of the vaccine.

Frank Joshi, the director and founder of Mvine told the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday: “The idea is that we are there ready and waiting in the event that we find ourselves interested in a situation where we need to prove something about ourselves.”

The chief executive of iProov, Andrew Bud claimed that it was “very important” that vaccination programmes should be tied with Britain’s socialised healthcare system, the National Health Service (NHS).

The concept of coronavirus health passports was first floated by Health Secretary Matt Hancock in April, who said at the time: “We are looking at an immunity certificate. People who have had the disease have got the antibodies and then have immunity can show that and therefore get back as much as possible to normal life.”

The government has since expressed mixed messages on whether it would roll out vaccine passports, with Cabinet Minister Michael Dove proclaiming in December that they were “not the plan”.

The recently installed vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi, predicted just days prior that British businesses would require immunity passports for their customers.

On Tuesday, Mr Zahawi denied that the government was planning to introduce vaccine passports, saying: “We have no plans to introduce vaccine passports.”

A Department of Health and Social Care backed up this claim, saying there are “no plans” to introduce vaccine passports.

“At this stage of the vaccination programme, it is not clear whether vaccines will prevent transmission,” the spokesman said.

“As large numbers of people from at risk groups are vaccinated, we will be able to gather the evidence to prove the impact on infection rates, hospitalisation and reduced deaths. If successful, this should in time lead to a reassessment of current restrictions.”

Vaccine passports have seen growing support in continental Europe, with Denmark announcing last week that it expects to roll out the travel passes early this year.

On Wednesday, SchengenVisaInfo reported that Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis wrote to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, calling for the bloc to introduces a standardised vaccine passport in order to facilitate travel amongst member states.

“It is urgent to adopt a common understanding on how a vaccination certificate should be structured so as to be accepted in all Member States,” Mitsotakis said.

“The lengthy experience we have had on developing a common PLF [Passenger Locator Form] has shown us that there is an urgent need for a high-level EU-wide mobilization to move things forward,” Mitsotakis added.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here: @KurtZindulka

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Watch: Democrat Rep. David Cicilline Pulls Down Mask to Sneeze into His Hand

Democrat U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) pulled his mask down while on the House floor on Wednesday to sneeze into his hand.

Watch:

Cicilline, an impeachment manager, was participating in the Democrats’ effort to impeachment President Trump for a second time.

As he was seated behind Rep. Yvette Clark (D-NY), who was speaking, Cicilline pulled down his mask and sneezed into his left hand.

He then put his mask back in place. Moments later, he left his seat. After returning, he put the same hand on Clark’s shoulder.

Several Democrats have called for financial penalties against members of Congress who do not wear a mask on the floor.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), who recently announced she had contracted the coronavirus, blamed Republicans and said there should be “serious fines” for those who refuse to wear one.

“Additionally, any Member who refuses to wear a mask should be immediately removed from the floor by the Sergeant at Arms. This is not a joke. Our lives and our livelihoods are at risk, and anyone who refuses to wear a mask should be fully held accountable for endangering our lives because of their selfish idiocy,” she claimed.

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) proposed a $1,000-a-day fine for members if they don’t comply.

“We’re done playing games. Either have some common sense and wear a damn mask or pay a fine. It’s not that complicated,” Dingell said, according to the Detroit News.

Kyle Olson is a reporter for Breitbart News. He is also host of “The Kyle Olson Show,” syndicated on Michigan radio stations on Saturdays–download full podcast episodes. Follow him on Parler.

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Joe Biden Gets Second Coronavirus Vaccine Dose

President-elect Joe Biden received his second dose of the coronavirus vaccine on Monday.

Wearing a black polo t-shirt and a black mask, Biden rolled up his sleeve and received the shot.

“Thanks, man,” Biden said after the shot was administered. Biden received his first dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine on December 21. The president-elect then removed his mask to answer questions from reporters.

He said he was confident that he could get 50 million doses of the vaccine administered to Americans in the first 100 days of his administration and planned to meet with his coronavirus advisory team in a video conference later in the afternoon to discuss his plans to speed up the administration of the vaccines.

“Three to four thousand people a day dying, it’s just beyond the pale,” Biden said. “It’s just wrong, and we can do a lot to change it.”

Biden again urged Americans to wear masks, socially distance, and wash their hands to help prevent the spread of the virus.

The president-elect criticized some Republican members of Congress who refused to wear masks during the lockdown on Capitol Hill last week, even though Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) offered masks to them. Video of the exchange between Rochester and the Republicans was published by Punchbowl News.

“Republican colleagues wouldn’t take the masks,” Biden noted. “I think it’s irresponsible. We all have to make sure it’s not a political issue. It’s an issue of public safety.”

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Andrew Cuomo Warns New Yorkers to Limit Social Gatherings: ‘Those Numbers Go Up … the Region Will Close Down’

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) warned New Yorkers on Monday to limit their social gatherings to curb the spread of the Chinese coronavirus, stating that increased infections, resulting in lower hospital capacity, will trigger regions to close down.

Cuomo provided an update on Monday, stressing the importance of sufficient hospital capacity, categorizing it as the “redline.”

“You are limited ultimately to your hospital capacity,” he said, noting that no region, currently, has less than 30 percent capacity. When any region gets within “striking distance” of 15 percent, it is “going to be a red zone, closed down for that region,” the New York governor said.

“If the infection rate increases, then the region closes. And that’s the last thing anybody wants. So if you don’t want that, then don’t bemoan reality,” he said, urging New Yorkers to “do something about it.”

“Be smart and reduce the infection rate,” he said.

“How do we defeat COVID? We defeat COVID the way we been controlling COVID for the past year,” he continued, contending that it is a “function of our activity” while defending his plea for New Yorkers to avoid social gatherings whenever possible.

“It is the social gatherings. I know people say, ‘How can you say we shouldn’t gather socially?’ I understand. We are social beings. I understand the hospitals. But it’s how you do it. It’s how you do it,” he repeated.

“Are you safe? Are you doing as much as you can outdoors? Are you wearing a mask? Are you keeping windows open? Are you keeping the crowds small? It’s being smart. That is all this is,” he continued.

“It is a virus. You’ve all had someone in the house with a virus. You know how the virus spreads. And it’s a consequence of being smart and being responsible. Those numbers go up, you overload the hospitals, the region will close down,” he warned, later reiterating that health officials have advised keeping social gatherings limited to immediate households or groups no larger than ten.

The majority of the spread, he added, stems from social activity — small gatherings, specifically.  Cuomo said everything short of that has been regulated, noting that “the vaccine is the weapon that will win the war.”

Across the Empire State, 774,075 vaccines have been distributed, with 236,941 receiving the first dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) data, last updated January 2.

Cuomo has continually pushed social distancing, limited gatherings, and mask-wearing throughout the pandemic, though the bulk of states that have experienced virus spikes have been implementing such measures, particularly masks, for months.

In November, Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested that masks and social distancing will still be necessary even after getting vaccinated.

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