What to Know
- NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo says house of worship will be able to open to 25% occupancy in Phase II; New York City will enter Phase I of reopening on Monday
- NJ Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday he expected to be able to make an announcement on the reopening of outdoor pools, both municipal and private, early next week
- New York, New Jersey and Connecticut topped 40,000 coronavirus deaths this week. Officials acknowledge the actual toll is likely much higher
New York’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is moving faster than expected, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday, allowing the state to loosen some restrictions on gatherings in houses of worship.
Churches, temples, mosques and other religious buildings will be allowed to operate with 25 percent of their usual capacity once the region they are in reaches Phase II of the state’s reopening plan.
“We’re going to open the valve more then we originally anticipated because the metrics are so good,” Cuomo said.
All of the state, except for New York City, is now in the second phase of loosening restrictions put in place in March, meaning larger religious gatherings can begin in most places immediately. New York City starts the first phase Monday.
Tracking Coronavirus in Tri-State
COVID-19 killed 35 people in the state Friday, Cuomo said, down from a peak of more than 700 per day in April. However, more than 2,600 remain hospitalized due to the virus and 554 are intubated in intensive care units.
“This is really really good news. Compared to where we were, this is a big sigh of relief,” Cuomo said, though he noted that caution is still needed.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and lead to death.
Cuomo urged people to continue wearing masks and practice social distancing, something that has been collapsing in many parts of the state as people have watched tightly-packed crowds of thousands of people protesting racial injustice.
“People still have to stay smart. With this virus you learn something new every week, and sometimes what you learn is different from what they told you in the first place,” Cuomo said.
New York City Entering Phase I
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a new mobile COVID testing program Friday that will bring tests to New Yorkers' own front doors as he laid out new rules for construction sites ahead of the city's reopening, now two days away.
Up to 400,000 people are expected to return to work in Phase I. Many of those employees will return to a transit system that's seen a 90 percent drop in ridership over the course of the pandemic and faces questions on how to maintain social distancing. The MTA installed new, no-touch payment scanners in half its subway stations to help prevent some contact, and is asking City Hall for 60 miles of priority bus lanes in the Bronx, Brooklyn and on Staten Island.
As part of Phase 1 of reopening, construction will also be allowed to resume — and the city's Department of Buildings released guidance on how those more than 33,000 sites should re-open. Social distancing protocols should be followed, and masks should be worn on sites. There will also be updated logs for cleaning and disinfecting, capacity limits for small areas and other precautions taken to enhance health
The mayor expects hundreds of thousands more to return when the city enters Phase II, which he said Thursday could happen in early July. He has already laid out an outdoor dining plan to help restaurants prepare for that next step.
The tri-state area's confirmed virus death toll topped a grim 40,000 milestone this week. New Jersey has lost more than 12,000 people to date while Connecticut's toll surpassed the 4,000-mark on Thursday. Nationally, nearly 110,000 lives have been lost.
The Garden State is expected to enter Stage 2 of its three-stage reopening on June 15, opening up in-person retail and hair salons, among other businesses. In-person customer services will resume at New Jersey's motor vehicle centers at that time, Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday. The Motor Vehicle Commission hopes to start road tests and issue new licenses and permits two weeks later.
Murphy also said Friday he expected to be able to make an announcement on the reopening of outdoor pools, both municipal and private, early next week.