Gov. Andrew Cuomo warns the second wave of coronavirus is coming and it's going to present a major challenge.

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Cuomo is warning New Yorkers the fight against coronavirus is far from over, believing at best its only halftime.

"COVID is NOT over. At best it’s half time. You don’t call it a win at half time no matter the score, Cuomo tweeted on Wednesday.

Cuomo issued the stern warning while also announcing for the twelfth straight day New York State's rate of positive COVID-19 tests was below 1 percent. 0.78 percent of all reported COVID tests statewide came back positive. In the Hudson Valley, 0.7 percent were positive, down from 1.3 percent.

"For the 12th straight day, our rate of positive COVID tests was under one percent, which is great news. We went from one of the worst situations in the nation to the best, all thanks to the hard work of New Yorkers and our data-driven, phased reopening," Cuomo said in press release. "The reason we're doing well is because we're being smart. If people's behavior doesn't remain disciplined, we're going to have a problem and you'll see the numbers change. COVID is not over by any stretch of the imagination. We must protect our progress, both from the growing cases across the nation and lack of compliance within our state. We cannot go backwards, and it is up to all of us to slow the spread by continuing to wear our masks and socially distance, and localities must enforce compliance."

Cuomo also warned county health departments to be ready to perform flu and COVID-19 tests simultaneously. Cuomo directed the Department of Health to send a letter to county health departments to ensure localities have plans in place to perform flu and COVID-19 tests at the same time. Below is the letter signed by New York State Commissioner of Health Howard Zucker.

Dear Commissioner/Public Health Director:

 

The New York State Department of Health greatly appreciates the work of our Local Health Department (LHD) partners to date in our efforts to contain and prevent community transmission of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The Department is also grateful for and relies upon your commitment to protecting the public health going forward.  

 

As we enter now into an influenza season during an unprecedented pandemic, Governor Cuomo has directed my Department to ensure local communities have adequate testing capacity for both seasonal influenza and COVID-19 so that we can make sure limited testing, lab, and treatment resources are being utilized most effectively. 

 

I am requesting detail about what plans for this fall your LHD has developed to provide residents of your county with sufficient availability of, access to, and information about both flu and COVID-19 tests. Your response will help inform the state's ongoing efforts to build a sufficient testing system to protect all New Yorkers. 

             

If there are any issues or barriers your LHD can foresee that will make it more difficult to maintain sufficient testing capacity within your county, please note them specifically, and my team will work with yours to get them resolved.

 

Finally, in addition to adequate testing capacity, developing and implementing a robust influenza vaccination plan will help ensure we can continue to respond efficiently to the ongoing challenges of this pandemic, so please also provide information on specific steps your LHD is taking to increase vaccination rates in your communities. 

 

Please share this information on plans for flu and COVID-19 testing and plans for flu vaccination, including any anticipated barriers, by 3 pm on Wednesday, August 26th to prevention@health.ny.gov

 

Thank you for all that you do and I look forward to our continued partnership in combating this pandemic.

Sincerely,

Howard A. Zucker, M.D. J.D.