NY Relaxes Testing Requirement for Nursing Home Staffers

Dr. Howard Zucker, commissioner for the New York State Department of Health. (AP Photo/Mike Groll/File)


New York relaxed its mandate for nursing homes to test staffers twice each week as a smaller percentage of New Yorkers test positive for the coronavirus. New York tallied 53 deaths from COVID-19 Tuesday as the state reopens, and there are signs that commuters are returning with caution to New York-area buses, subways and rail lines.
Nursing Home Tests
Nursing homes in some parts of the state can start test staff for COVID-19 once a week, down from a sweeping twice-a-week mandate that began last month.
State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said Wednesday that infection rates had fallen to the point where less rigorous testing was acceptable.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered the testing regime May 10 in an attempt to belatedly stem the spread of the coronavirus through nursing homes. To date, at least 6,100 nursing home residents have died from coronavirus-related causes in the state.
Nursing homes will be able to reduce testing to once a week in parts of the state that have begun the second phase of the state’s reopening plan. Twice-a-week testing would continue in New York City, which entered the first phase of reopening Monday.
Leaders of nursing homes and their industry groups argued for weeks that mandatory testing was costly and logistically difficult, requiring roughly 185,000 workers to get tested twice a week.
Reopening of Indoor Restaurants, Beauty Salons
Restaurants can start allowing limited indoor seating and Beauty Salons can open up in some parts of New York as early as Friday, according to new state guidance.
Restaurants would have to limit indoor capacity to no more than 50% of maximum occupancy and either keep all tables at least 6 feet apart or set up physical barriers. The state’s rules only allow up to 10 people from the same party seated per table.
Employees must wear face coverings at all time, while patrons can remove coverings while seated.
Commuters Return
Commuters cautiously returned to New York-area buses, subways and rail lines as the city enters the first phase of its business reopening.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority reported subway ridership reached about 800,000 on Monday, the most since the agency began reducing service in late March.
Combined bus and subway ridership increased 17% over the previous Monday, and regional rail lines saw increases of up to 13% of pre-pandemic levels.
Weekday subway ridership normally surpasses 5 million but plummeted more than 90% during the pandemic.
MTA officials have said subway and bus ridership could reach 70 to 80% of pre-pandemic levels by the fall but concede it is unclear what will happen.
New Jersey Transit, which saw rail ridership drop to as low as 3% during the pandemic, reported Monday a gradual increase back to about 8% in recent weeks.

Updated Wednesday, June 10, 2020 at 6:19 pm added details