NY Lifts Ban on Nursing Home Visits; State's COVID-19 Cases Top 400K

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Nursing homes and long term care facilities in New York can once again allow visitations but under a strict set of safety measures announced by the State Department of Health on Friday, just as the state's number of confirmed coronavirus cases passed 400,000.

Visits can resume only at facilities that have been without COVID-19 for at least 28 days, State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker announced. Additionally, residents will only be allowed two visitors at a time, who must be temperature checked and follow face covering and social distancing practices.

"With the knowledge we now have about how COVID-19 came into nursing homes – mainly through asymptomatic staff and visitors through no fault of their own – it is critical that as we resume visitations to these facilities we do it in a smart and cautious way to ensure the health and safety of residents and staff," Dr. Zucker said in a press release.

It was not immediately clear on Friday how many, if any, facilities met the 28-day requirement. Residents of nursing homes and long term care facilities in New York were especially hard hit by the virus at its peak. In New York, more than 5,000 people have died from COVID-19 at nursing homes.

While the number of hospitalizations in New York has declined overall since spiking in mid-April, 826 individuals with COVID-19 were hospitalized Thursday. The state's confirmed case toll has now passed 400,000, with a total of 400,299 confirmed infections as of Friday morning, Cuomo's office said.

Malls in New York's Phase IV reopening regions open their doors to shoppers for the first time in four months on Friday.

As cases spike in other parts of the country, Gov. Andrew Cuomo mandated that only malls with HVAC systems with filtration that meets a certain minimum standard are allowed to reopen. They will also be required to increase outdoor air flowing into the facilities, reduce air circulation and regularly check and replace filters.

Cuomo had been under pressure to reopen malls after neighboring states moved ahead days or weeks ago to reopen indoor shopping, but he wanted to make sure the state's number stays low.

Testing in the tri-state that used to take just a couple days has now been delayed a week or more due to the spike in other parts of the country. NBC New York's Pei-Sze Cheng reports.

Palisades Center in Rockland County, the Galleria at Crystal Run in Middletown, Orange County and Poughkeepsie Galleria in Dutchess County are among the malls reopening on Friday.

Rockland County Executive Ed Day says the reopening means so much to so many. "There are 5,000 employees in the mall. I've spoken to a number of these folks. One lady, it just breaks your heart, has two children at home and she's trying to make ends meet. She says business is down by 95%," Day said.

On Long Island, Roosevelt Field in Garden City opens Friday, and Broadway Commons in Hicksville will open on Saturday.

All regions of the state are already in Phase IV except for New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday that all events requiring a permit will be canceled through Sept. 30.

"While it pains me to call off some of the city's beloved events, our focus now must be the prioritization of city space for public use and the continuation of social distancing," de Blasio said in a statement.

However, the mayor said that the city’s ban will exempt “demonstrations, religious events and press conferences," and addressed the Black Lives Matter protests and marches that have been occurring throughout the city since late May.

In New Jersey, the state's athletic association deployed new dates for fall sports. The NJSIAA pushed back fall seasons nearly one month; official practices can start September 14 with competition getting underway two weeks later.

Girl's tennis is scheduled to take the court Sept. 28 while all other sports kick off Oc. 1, expect football which starts one day later. Regular season play will be much shorter this fall and is scheduled to end after nearly one month, give or take a week depending on the sport, and the deadline for postseason play is Thanksgiving. The full list of dates was published to the athletic association's website.

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