Cuomo, Murphy Rip Spike in Young COVID Infections, Demand More Enforcement, Less House Parties

Both New York and New Jersey have seen COVID upticks among young people, many of those tied to bars, restaurants and house parties

NBC Universal, Inc.

What to Know

  • As the national threat grows, so too does the one from slipping compliance locally; Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was "appalled' by video of a packed concert on Long Island over the weekend and has launched a probe
  • More than 130 bars have been cited in NYC and Long Island since Friday; 12 NYC bars had their licenses temporarily revoked after the weekend
  • New infections among young people in New Jersey have been tied to house parties; Gov. Phil Murphy condemned those on Wednesday

New York City and Long Island are being closely watched by Gov. Andrew Cuomo amid dozens of recent COVID violations for non-social distancing and other issues. He touted his oft-repeated mantra again: Local governments, do your job.

Cuomo's latest criticism Wednesday came amid his ongoing argument that local governments largely in downstate New York have failed to enforce 6-feet-apart and mask rules. He has questioned why local law enforcement didn’t break up large crowds at bars in New York City or at a concert in the Hamptons, saying the latter situation was “out of control and all the rules were being violated.”

"Our economy is reopening, the infection rate has stayed down because we have done compliance. If we have not done compliance, if we get lazy, if we get sloppy, you will see those numbers go up - I need the local governments to do their job," the governor said Tuesday. "The state government cannot substitute for every local government's enforcement role - we just don't have enough resources on the state side. I need the NYPD to do a better job in New York City."

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

Source: ny.gov

More than 150 bars and restaurants in New York City and Long Island were cited for COVID violations over a five-day period starting Friday, with Cuomo adding another 55 violations Monday and Tuesday nights in the city.

Twelve more establishments in the five boroughs had their liquor licenses temporarily revoked over infractions ranging from maskless employees and customers to allowing people to congregate.

Out of 9,200 inspections, state officials say they have issued 503 violations, each of which carries a fine up to $10,000. Since March, nearly 60 New York bars and restaurants have had their licenses pulled. Each must file a correction plan to get its license back. Cuomo warned Monday for the second time in a week 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.

The State Liquor Authority is now going undercover to try and root out problem locations, and they've gotten some help too. Other state agencies, like the tax department, for example, have been reassigned to quadruple the state's restaurant task force.

Despite the city not seeing a spike in COVID cases even after weeks of outdoor dining, the governor compared the crackdown to a dieter trying to maintain weight.

"What you're saying is my weight hasn't gone up. Why shouldn't I be eating cheesecake and indulging in desserts? Because if you had been doing that, your weight would have gone up," Cuomo said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he believes most New York City bars and restaurants are complying with the regulations, though admits there are some violators. Cuomo acknowledged the same, for all intents and purposes, but warned a "handful of bad actors" could ruin the reopening for everyone.

The mayor defended the growing undercover response, which some have likened to spying on bars, emphasizing that most establishments pass the inspections.

Slipping compliance locally compounds the threat of out-of-state travel, Cuomo says. Both threaten New York's overall progress against the coronavirus -- and both issues have only intensified in recent weeks.

Nearly three dozen states, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, are now on the tri-state quarantine list. All of those states are experiencing upticks in COVID cases that qualify them as "hotspots" under Cuomo's standards, and people traveling to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut from those states are required to self-isolate for 14 days. Those landing in New York must also submit a form.

"Across the nation, it is still very bad. So there are more states that have exceeded our threshold for quarantine," Cuomo said Tuesday.

The additions to the quarantine list Tuesday came the same day the nation topped 150,000 virus deaths, according to NBC News estimates. New York accounts for about 17 percent of that toll, though its actual number of deaths probably or possibly linked to COVID in some way likely far surpasses the 25,126 confirmed fatalities it reported as of Tuesday.

The entire state of New York is in Cuomo's fourth and final reopening phase, though New York City has taken a modified approach to the last two amid evidence that suggests heightened risk from enclosed spaces.

New Jersey, which has lost nearly 16,000 people to date, has also slowed its reopening process and shelved indoor dining indefinitely amid the national climate. The state, which is still in Stage 2 of Gov. Phil Murphy's three-phase reopening, has seen an uptick in COVID cases among young people tied to house parties. Murphy blasted the lacking compliance in his briefing Wednesday.

"We cannot continue to have crowded house parties. They are not safe. They put the hard work we’ve all undertaken since March at risk of being undone," Murphy said. "I get that we’ve all had our routines turned upside down for the past four months, and we want to blow off some steam with friends. I understand the desire to escape the heat and head into the air conditioning. But, indoor house parties spread coronavirus more efficiently."

The state's daily coronavirus cases has averaged over 500 over the past four days, with Murphy noting that New Jersey is essentially back to where they were about a month ago in terms of number of new cases.

"When there are hundreds of people crammed into a house, where the air conditioning system is simply blowing the air around and people are not wearing masks, you have also invited coronavirus to your party."

There has been a rash of large parties throughout the state in recent days. In one instance, there were more than 700 people at a mansion in Jackson. In Middletown, several house parties packed with teens and young adults are linked to at least 50 new positive cases, and a party on Long Beach Island has sidelined nearly three dozen lifeguards due to COVID-19.

"This is no time for anyone to be vying for induction into the knucklehead hall of fame," Murphy said. "Just because it is summer does not mean that we give up our common sense or personal responsibility."

Copyright NBC New York
Contact Us