New Jersey

2 More NY Regions Reopen by Mid-Week; Only NYC Left on ‘PAUSE'

The Mid-Hudson and Long Island regions are set to open Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, Gov. Cuomo confirmed Sunday

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What to Know

  • The Mid-Hudson and Long Island regions are set to open Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed Sunday
  • New York City will be the last region left under Cuomo's left on "PAUSE"
  • New York City joined the rest of the tri-state area in reopening its beaches Friday; they are still closed to swimming and social distancing will be strictly enforced

UPDATE: Long Island to Reopen Wednesday, Cuomo Shifts Focus to NYC as State's Daily Deaths Hit New Pandemic Low

The daily coronavirus death toll was slightly above 100 in New York state but the trend continues down, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday.

On Saturday, 109 people died across the state from COVID-19, the Democrat said during his daily press conference. There were 84 deaths on Friday.

Cuomo said the state was now “decidedly in the reopening phase.” And he noted that the state’s curve was going down even as many places in the country were rising in deaths.

Long Island will reopen Wednesday, Cuomo confirmed Sunday. Long Island had struggled on the death rate metric despite making significant progress in that regard, as has the Mid-Hudson region. The latter met the state's criteria for decline in deaths and if the Mid-Hudson region trains enough contact tracers over the weekend it will be ready to reopen Tuesday, Cuomo said.

The governor noted that masks will be mandatory on the Long Island Railroad, which will be disinfected daily.

Businesses in those areas are already gearing up, hoping to be able to re-hire some of the workers lost during the shutdown and get back to business — but know they have to do so safely and and to not let their guards down, or else risk another wave of the virus. Westchester County has registered nearly 33,000 COVID-19 cases, with close to 1,500 deaths.

Both the New York City mayor and governor's office have said New York City is currently on track to reopen in the first or second week of June. It will still have to meet Cuomo's criteria to do so, regardless of where it stands on de Blasio's thresholds.

Get caught up with everything that happened today in the fight against Coronavirus.

Under the latest order from Gov. Cuomo, up to 10 people can gather for non-essential purposes "provided that social distancing protocols and cleaning and disinfection protocols required by the Department of Health are adhered to." That means people still need to stay at least 6 feet away from other people, or wear a face covering when they cannot maintain that distance in public.

Cuomo's previous order only allowed gatherings of that size for Memorial Day services, but a civil liberties group filed a lawsuit challenging the state's ban on other gatherings, leading to the new guidance.

Citing ongoing progress in flattening the curve, Murphy relaxed additional restrictions on Friday. He lifted the limit on outdoor gatherings from 10 to 25 people, but noted outdoor gatherings do not include al fresco dining or graduations. Indoor gatherings remain capped at 10 people.

The capacity for charter and fishing boats, outdoor batting cages, driving ranges and other outdoor recreational businesses was raised to 25 in New Jersey as well. Recreational campgrounds, public and private, can reopen immediately, Murphy said.

Gov. Cuomo said Saturday that New York recorded the lowest number of daily deaths related to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. New York had 84 deaths Friday, the first day below 100 since March, Cuomo said.

"It doesn't do any good for the 84 families that are feeling the pain, but for me it's a sign that we are making real progress and I feel good about that," Cuomo said.

The daily death tolls in New York have been declining across the board, however. This week, the state has averaged about 107 confirmed virus deaths a day, a still-staggering number but a somber improvement from a stretch near 800 in April.

Region by Region Status

Source: New York State; Report as of May 18

The Cuomo administration is watching data closely and preparing for upstate regions that could soon be ready to enter Phase II. Many of the regions have been open for one week, half the time previously announced by Cuomo needed to separate each phase of the state's plan.

When questioned about moving regions forward, Cuomo said Saturday the "two weeks is a rule of thumb," and ultimately any region could reopen sooner or later than the two-week window designed to watch for setbacks or hiccups in the reopening process.

The second phase involves retail, finance and professional services, while the third addresses food and hospitality. Education and entertainment will be the last sectors to resume, Cuomo has said.

Upstate regions look ahead of Phase II while three downstate regions remain under New York's "PAUSE" order, for now.

New York City accounts for two-thirds of the confirmed COVID deaths statewide, which reached 23,282 Saturday as Cuomo added 84 more names to the toll. The city reports another 4,735 probable deaths, which bring its toll well over 20,000. A recent CDC report suggests the actual toll could be even higher.

New Jersey, which is in Stage 1 of what Gov. Phil Murphy has described as a three-stage reopening process, now reports more fatalities per 100,000 residents than any other state. It has lost at least 11,081 people to COVID-19.

Connecticut, which opened up al fresco dining as part of its first major statewide reopening steps this week, has reported 3,675 deaths.

Nationally, the toll is fast approaching a grim 100,000 milestone, with NBC News reporting nearly 97,000 U.S. virus deaths as of late Friday. A new virus projection model that curates data from 41 diverse models projects the country could lose another 20,000 people just over the next four weeks.

Copyright NBC New York/Associated Press
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