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NY COVID Rates Reach New Low as 2 More Regions Prepare to Enter Phase III

Two more New York regions will enter Phase III of reopening next week, Gov. Cuomo said Saturday

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What to Know

  • Two more New York regions are expected to enter Phase III of reopening on next week, opening up indoor dining and other services
  • New York City hopes to be able to reach Phase II by early July; the mayor's office has already released a comprehensive outdoor dining plan to help provide restaurants with more temporary al fresco space
  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says his state will enter Stage 2 on Monday, opening up outdoor dining and in-person retail

New York, once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, now leads the nation with one of the lowest infection rates, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.

More than three months after the first reported case of the novel coronavirus in the state, all 10 regions of the state have moved into one phase or another of reopening. Western New York and the Capital Region can join five other regions in Phase III on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, Cuomo announced. 

“We’ve done it. We have tamed the beast. We are now 180 degrees on the other side,” he said, comparing New York with more than a dozen states that have seen a recent spike in COVID-19 cases. “The people of this state by their actions have saved thousands of lives. That is not overly dramatic. That is not rhetorical,”

The virus is still an active threat in every corner of the state. More than 382,000 New Yorkers have tested positive for the coronavirus since March 1. Although the numbers continue to rise, their growth has dramatically decreased, even as the state's regions move further through the reopening process. 

The state tallied 32 virus-related deaths on Friday, a slight decrease from the previous day after some recent fluctuations in the daily toll. The daily death tally peaked at 799 on April 8. On Friday, there were 1,734 people being treated for the disease in hospitals across the state, the fewest since March 20.

Relaxing social distancing guidelines may have caused a spike in coronavirus cases for 21 states. Arizona has seen a 40-percent increase in cases since last week, and eight of every 10 hospital beds are now in use after the state lifted its stay-at-home orders on May 15th.

Cuomo implored New Yorkers to continue wearing masks in public, chiding young people especially for wearing them — ineffectively — on their chins as he demonstrated the proper way to wear one. He also singled out protesters hitting the streets in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and police officers, who’ve been spotted flouting facial protection requirements.

“It is the law and the law is the law for the police,” Cuomo said.

In Phase III, restaurants can reopen for indoor dining but only at up to half-capacity, with a minimum of 6 feet or physical barriers required between tables and face coverings for all employees. Personal care businesses, such as tattoo and piercing parlors, appearance, massage therapists and nail salons, can also open, with similar social distancing restrictions.

New Jersey personal care businesses are learning what safety measures must be in place when they reopen from coronavirus closures later this month. The new guidelines released Friday by Gov. Phi Murphy cover beauty salons, barber shops, day spas, hair braiding shops, massage parlors, nail salons, tanning salons, tattoo parlors and more.

The first-term Democrat said that hygiene, temperature checks, appointment-only visits, face masks for everyone (unless a client is getting a service the requires it to be removed) and other measures will need to be in place for the personal care businesses to reopen. He said the guidelines laid out from his order shouldn't be a big surprise for people.

After being hard hit in the first several weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak, New Jersey has seen hospitalizations and cases slow, leading Murphy to set up Stage 2 of his “Road Back” plan, which begins Monday. Outdoor dining and nonessential in-person retail will resume Monday with restrictions aimed at preventing the coronavirus in place.

On Friday, Murphy also said that libraries can begin curbside pickup on Monday. The buildings, however, will remain closed. He also said that the Department of Education is releasing guidance on how summer schools can be held and that the Department of Health will release youth sports guidance this weekend.

Murphy said Friday that his administration is working with casinos, workers and others at laying out a reopening plan for Atlantic City's gaming halls. But, he gave no date on when casinos would reopen.

As of Friday, more than 166,000 people in New Jersey had tested positive for COVID-19. At least 12,489 people had died from coronavirus-related complications. Forty-eight new deaths were announced Friday.

Copyright NBC New York/Associated Press
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