COVID-19 infection rates have been going down in New York State for 57 straight days, according to health officials. The seven-day average for new COVID-19 infections is only at 0.65%.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday that the statewide positivity rate is 0.77%. New York has one of the nation’s highest numbers of people who are fully vaccinated at 46.7% with 55.7% receiving their first dose. On Tuesday, there were no COVID-19 deaths reported in the city.

“New Yorkers are continuing to beat back COVID every day and as the numbers keep going down we are able to get our economy back up and running and move our state into the future,” Cuomo said. “We’ve followed the science and the data and reduced restrictions on people and businesses, but our priority remains getting more people vaccinated.”

As more people are getting vaccinated and infection rates go down, Cuomo lifted the indoor dining curfew, allowing indoor dining for bars and restaurants to remain open past midnight.

The governor added that the vaccination rate is starting to slow down. Over 610,000 doses were administered statewide over the past seven days. In response, the state is offering several incentives for people to get the shot including passes to state parks and free MetroCards.

Like other states New York is offering to enter people into a lottery. The “Vax and Scratch” program provides free state lottery scratch-off tickets to people 18 and older who are getting vaccinated with a grand prize of $5 million. Winning tickets can also have smaller prizes ranging from $50,000 to $20.

The AmNews asked state officials how the lottery was being funded and did not get a response at press time.

Locally, the city has a COVID-19 positivity rate of 0.83%, the lowest level since the beginning of the pandemic. Over 8.2 million vaccine doses have been administered. In an effort to get more young people vaccinated, Mayor Bill de Blasio offered a chance to win a three-day pass to the Governor’s Ball Music Festival and a one-year free membership to Crunch Fitness. Winners were announced on Thursday. The next prizes being given away are two-night staycations at a city hotel.

“This is a testament to the willpower of New Yorkers, fighting through this crisis, doing the right things to keep each other safe, going out and getting vaccinated in huge numbers,” de Blasio said. “This is another clear fact, another clear piece of evidence that New York City’s coming back strong. There’s no stopping New York.”

While there is good news that the COVID-19 pandemic is coming to an end, those who aren’t vaccinated are still at risk for getting seriously ill from the virus. African Americans and Latinos are five times more likely to become sick from COVID-19 and African Americans are still 3.5 times

more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to white people.

Statewide, Blacks make up only 11% of people who have been vaccinated compared to 72% of vaccinations going to white people.

Essen Health Care and UnitedHealthcare of New York are sponsoring a free COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Essen Health Care facility at 542 E 138th St. in the Bronx on Thursday June 3 and June 10. Approximately 100 vaccines will be administered per event to anyone and food kits being distributed. The kits will contain pre-packaged items and non-perishable goods.

While New York is leading the way in getting people vaccinated, new numbers from Our World In Data from Oxford University indicate that Southern states are struggling to get people vaccinated. Alabama and Mississippi, for example, are only seeing vaccination rates at just under 30%.

State health officials say residents are concerned about the safety of the vaccine and the number of infections going down leading people to believe they don’t need the vaccine. It’s also hard to get vaccines into rural areas.

Globally, approximately 10,000 people continue to die each day from COVID-19. More than 80% of vaccines have been administered in high- and upper-middle income countries. Lower-income countries and the world are at risk of viral variants and reignited pandemic spread.

In Africa, only 1.2% of the population on the continent has been vaccinated compared to 50% in North America.