Social distancing sign at Jones Beach State Park (305352)
Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo photo

As of Tuesday, 68% of New York State residents are either fully vaccinated or have received one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, getting the state closer to the 70% needed to do away with remaining restrictions.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this week that the state has administered more COVID-19 vaccine shots per capita than any big state in the nation. The COVID-19 positivity rate continues to go down and was at 0.66% this week. Infection rates have been declining consistently for the last two months.

“When we hit 70%, then I feel comfortable saying to the people of this state we can relax virtually all restrictions. We’re at 68.6 almost there, but this isn’t horseshoes,” Cuomo said. “We want to be at 70%. 1.4% to go, and then we can lift the capacity restriction, social distancing, the hygiene protocols, the health screenings, the potential tracing.”

Once 70% of the state’s population is vaccinated, masks will only be required as recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Large venues, schools, public transportation, hospitals and nursing homes will still follow some guidelines

While infection rates are going down, vaccinations continue to slow. The lowest vaccination demographic are young people between the ages of 12 and 17 because the group just became eligible. Some parts of the state continue to see low vaccination rates overall. In the city, those areas include Far Rockaway, Queens, Ocean Hill, Canarsie and Brownsville in Brooklyn and Baychester and Hunts Point in the Bronx.

Black and Hispanic or Latinx residents of all ages still rate among the lowest in vaccinations across all boroughs, with the exception of Queens, reported the health department. So far in the city 8.5 million people have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

A Gallup poll released this week said that 76% of U.S. adults say they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or plan to be while the remaining 24% said they don’t plan on being vaccinated.

In New York State, Blacks make up only 11% of those who have received the vaccine, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. In an interview with the AmNews Derrick Lane, chief marketing officer for, said many African Americans who were initially against getting the vaccine are now changing their minds.

“What we have seen just overall is that African Americans have embraced the vaccine more,” he said. “Now people are being educated about it, people have seen faces like them talk about it and people are seeing their family and friends who have gotten the vaccine and nothing negative has happened to them.”

Efforts are now focusing on getting the vaccine to more people in the city. Starting Wednesday, mobile vaccination vans were sent to libraries across the five boroughs and will be there throughout the month. Mayor Bill de Blasio said he wants the COVID-19 vaccine to meet people where they are.

In order to amplify the citywide return of the city pre-COVID, de Blasio also announced that the city is planning an epic homecoming concert in Central Park slated for some time in August.

“We have started vaccination sites in our schools, we’re going to keep building on that. We held block parties to encourage vaccination, barbershop listening sessions,” he said. “We’ve had vans and buses with vaccination efforts at parks, places where people are, young people are.”

In an effort to get more young people vaccinated, the city held “Youth Vaccination Week” last week. The campaign proved to be successful with 34,000 doses administered to New Yorkers ages 12 to 17. In total, 156,000 12- to 17-year-olds have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Lane said the reason many youth are not getting vaccinated is because they think it’s not necessary.

“With the younger generation, they feel like they don’t need it,” he said. “The numbers are going down, other people are being vaccinated,” he said. “They feel like, ‘hey, why get vaccinated myself.’ It’s sort of a ‘gonna-fix-itself’ mentality.”