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Gov. Andrew Cuomo lifted most of New York State’s coronavirus restrictions today after 70% of the state’s adult population received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Starting today, most pandemic-related restrictions have been lifted statewide, including capacity limits, health screenings, social distancing and information for contact tracing.

The state will maintain those restrictions still recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which includes mask requirements in schools, healthcare settings, correctional facilities, homeless shelters and on public transportation. It was unclear if the state will continue to require masks for unvaccinated individuals outside of those settings.

“What does 70% mean? It means that we can go back to life as we know it,” Cuomo said. 

New York currently has a .4% COVID-19 positivity rate, the lowest in the country.

In May, President Joe Biden set a nationwide goal for 70% of American adults to receive at least one vaccine dose by July 4. New York has now reached that goal several weeks early, joining 12 other states that include most of the Northeast, California, New Mexico and Washington.

New York first lifted its mask mandate for fully vaccinated individuals in most settings in late May, after the CDC released guidance that vaccinated people could go without masks.

Long Island currently has the highest vaccination rate of all the regions in the state, with more than 75% of the adult population having received at least one dose. In Suffolk County, more than 69% of adults have received at least one dose, along with more than 77% of adults in Nassau.

Cuomo also announced several renovations and expansions to New York landmarks and public transportation in an effort to improve the state’s pandemic recovery.

“We’ve learned a lot over this past year, we’ve accomplished a lot over this past year. Our challenge has to be to reimagine New York and we’re going to make a New York that’s better than has ever been before,” Cuomo said. “We have to capitalize on this moment and seize this moment of transformation.”

New York will celebrate the milestone with multiple fireworks shows statewide Tuesday night, including a show at Jones Beach.

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: alek@riverheadlocal.com