Cuomo: NYC Is on Track for Next Phase of Reopening

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

New York City is on track to open more businesses and could enter the second phase of reopening Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.

Cuomo said the State Department of Health reported 17 coronavirus-related deaths in hospitals and nursing homes Tuesday. He also pointed to the gradual decline in rates of individuals testing positive: Fewer than 1% of results for roughly 60,000 individuals tested Tuesday for COVID-19 were positive.

“This is one of the best days for New York since we have started this long journey into a dark night,” Cuomo said.

The official coronavirus death toll includes at least 24,600 statewide and at least an additional 2,600 deaths in New York City, though officials have said the actual death toll is likely much higher. The number of deaths reported each day by state hospitals and nursing homes reached a peak of at least 800 in April.

Cuomo has urged New Yorkers to keep wearing masks and adhering to social distancing guidelines despite the gradual reopening. And he warned that he could reimpose restrictions if residents fail to follow those rules.

“New York City, do what every other region has done so far,” Cuomo said.

“Local governments have to be responsible and do their job,” he added.

Still, Cuomo said Wednesday that the state’s data suggests the virus is not spreading at an unmanageable rate in New York City, which has been boosting testing and setting up contact tracing programs along with the rest of the state.

New York has now tested over 3 million people for COVID-19, and more than 385,100 — about 12% — have tested positive.

Cuomo has divided the state into 10 regions that have all begun to lift some restrictions on businesses and communities imposed in March to prevent a catastrophic surge in hospitalizations.

Hair salons and barbershops can open under the second phase with restrictions, while restaurants can offer outdoor seating.

Many other businesses and stores, from real estate offices to retail, can also open up but only at 50% capacity. Malls, gyms and indoor dining are not permitted to reopen under phase 2.

“This only works if the business owners are educated, they’re ready, if they have the plans in place,” Cuomo said.