What to Know
- Gov. Andrew Cuomo says more than 100 bars and restaurants in the NYC area were cited for COVID violations over the weekend; some may temporarily lose their licenses
- The crackdown comes as dozens of U.S. states see COVID surge anew; many new cases are thought to be tied to bars, restaurants and other enclosed spaces as well as slipping individual compliance
- The lapsing compliance locally compounds the threat from out-of-state travel; 31 states that meet Cuomo's viral hotspot criteria are now on the tri-state quarantine list
Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned for the second time in one week Monday that he may have to shut down bars and restaurants in New York City all over again if compliance on the part of businesses and individuals doesn't improve.
Frustrated by what he has described as lacking enforcement on the part of local governments, Cuomo dispatched his new state police and liquor authority enforcement task force to inspect restaurants and bars in the five boroughs and Long Island over the weekend. A total of 132 violations were issued between Friday and Sunday night for infractions ranging from crowding to masklessness.
The state’s liquor authority board plans to review the violations Monday and decide whether to suspend some licenses. Forty establishments have had their licenses yanked since March, 10 of them since Friday, Cuomo said. Typically, repeat violators get "three strikes" before theirs are suspended, but single egregious violations can result in immediate shutdown.
On one street in Queens, at least three establishments had their licenses suspended. The owners didn't want to do any interviews because they fear retribution, but say some of the outdoor dining rules are out of their control. One restaurant said they even hired a security guard, but couldn't control the crowds outside.
Cuomo says the vast majority of the bars and restaurants in New York have been compliant but warned a "handful of bad actors could ruin it for everyone."
Daily Percentage of Positive Tests by New York Region
Gov. Andrew Cuomo breaks the state into 10 regions for testing purposes and tracks positivity rates to identify potential hotspots. Here's the latest tracking data by region and for the five boroughs. For the latest county-level results statewide, click here
New York City has yet to see any statistically significant infection uptick from its reopening, boasting a 1 percent daily test positivity rate over a seven-day rolling period. That mirrors the statewide rolling average and is one of the lowest transmission rates in the country. Cuomo doesn't want anyone to get complacent.
"Where we are is a function of what we do. The numbers are the numbers that we make happen. We have to be diligent about our actions," Cuomo said.
Given the national climate, where more than three dozen states are experiencing some level of increase in cases, the governor said it may be inevitable that New York gets hit with COVID-19 again. His goal is to try to minimize the impact.
The governor is cracking down on business violations as part of a larger effort to prevent a resurgence of the virus like much of the country is experiencing right now. Both California and Florida topped New York's confirmed COVID caseload in the last week. Both also reported record single-day death tolls.
The two states still have lost far fewer people than New York, which reports more than 25,000 confirmed virus fatalities and may have as many as 10,000 more deaths attributable to COVID in some way despite no definitive diagnosis.
New York's daily deaths have fallen to the single or low double digits. Just three more names were added to the toll Sunday while total COVID hospitalizations fell to 637, the lowest number since mid-March. At the same time, young people are accounting for a higher share of hospitalizations than they have in the past. Cuomo says slipping compliance individually and by businesses is to blame.
“Don’t get cocky don’t get arrogant,” Cuomo warned New Yorkers. “There are still threats that are out there. You still have the national threat, and then you have the compliance challenge.”
Nearly two dozen states have paused or rolled back their reopenings amid the record-breaking surge. New York City and New Jersey have postponed indoor dining indefinitely, though the rest of New York state is allowed to continue doing it. Indoor activities like malls and museums are also shelved for now in the city.
Tracking Coronavirus in Tri-State
New Jersey remains in Stage 2 of Gov. Phil Murphy's three-stage reopening roadmap. Last month, he had hoped he'd soon be able to set a date for the state's entry into the final phase, but he put it off as the national outlook darkened. The state’s rate of transmission of COVID-19 climbed to 1.09, the governor said Monday, up from about 0.8 over the weekend
"The evidence is overwhelming that the virus is a lot more lethal indoors, particularly when you're sedentary, lack of ventilation, you're taking your mask off by definition to eat or drink," Murphy told CNN Monday. "We also saw what was happening in other states where the virus was raging, most of that from indoor activity. We said you know what, we want to get to indoor activity, our restaurants are getting crushed but we just did not think and continue to not think we're there yet in terms of doing it responsibly. I hope it will be sooner than later, but not yet."
There may be some hope on the horizon in the form of a vaccine. The biggest test yet of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine got underway Monday with the first of some 30,000 Americans rolling up their sleeves to receive shots created by the U.S. government as part of the all-out global race to stop the pandemic.
Final-stage testing of the vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., began with volunteers at numerous sites around the U.S. given either a real dose or a dummy without being told which.
“I’m excited to be part of something like this. This is huge,” said Melissa Harting, a 36-year-old nurse who received an injection in Binghamton, New York.
U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and German biotech BioNTech said they began their late-stage human trial for a potential coronavirus vaccine on Monday as well.