What to Know
- The Mid-Hudson and Long Island regions are set to open Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said 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
Milestone death tolls cast a grim shadow on Memorial Day, a day already weighed heavily by the loss of American lives. Tri-state deaths have slowed over recent weeks, but the total continues to creep closer to 40,000 while the nationwide loss prepares to cross 100,000.
From outside the New York City's Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum on Sunday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced state and local governments would provide death benefits to public workers who died from COVID-19.
"Today we're saying we honor that service, and we're going to make sure that every government in the state of New York provides death benefits to those public heroes who died from COVID-19 during this emergency," the governor said, who called on the federal government to promise similar support to victims.
The death benefits apply to New York's countless frontline workers, including government employees at the city, county and state level.
"They showed up because I asked them to show up, they showed up because I required them to show up. There's not a transit worker who drove a bus or conducted a train, or a nurse who didn't walk into an emergency room who wasn't scared to death," he said.
New York lost another 96 lives to the virus, Cuomo said Monday, bringing the state death toll to 23,488. It's the second time in three days the daily number dropped below 100.
The Mid-Hudson region is preparing to enter Phase I of the state's reopening process Tuesday, Gov. Cuomo said over the weekend. Long Island was told Sunday it would be ready to enter Phase I by Wednesday.
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.
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.
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.
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.
New York City accounts for two-thirds of the confirmed COVID deaths statewide, which reached 23,488 Monday as Cuomo added 96 more names to the toll. The city reports another 4,777 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 11,144 people to COVID-19.
Tracking Coronavirus in Tri-State
Connecticut, which opened up al fresco dining as part of its first major statewide reopening steps this week, has reported 3,742 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.