New York

Once the Nation's Epicenter, NY Virus Death Toll Drops to 5

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What to Know

  • Health officials reported only five COVID deaths in New York State on Sunday, the first single-digit toll since the pandemic's beginning
  • NY summer day camps are eligible to open up Monday, although some are opening the following week in order to meet new health regulations
  • Indoor parts of NJ retail shopping malls can also open Monday; face coverings must be worn and all stores are capped at 50 percent capacity

New York State reached a major milestone in the fight against the coronavirus Sunday when health officials reported a single-day death toll below double digits for the first time since the pandemic's beginning.

Infections rates and daily indicators have been trending positively for the state in recent weeks, with daily death tolls hovering in the teens. According to the state, only five people died Saturday from COVID-19.

At the height of the pandemic's grip on the tri-state, New York alone recorded almost 800 deaths for a single day. Although the state has shown considerable progress in lowering infection rates and hospitalizations, officials consider the first wave of the coronavirus far from defeated.

"This is a continuation of the first wave and it was a failed effort to stop the first wave in this country," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on "Meet the Press" Sunday morning, adding that the state's COVID hospitalizations have dropped below 800.

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have forged on into further phases of each state's reopening schedule, while other states have paused or rolled back portions of their own reopening. By Friday, the number of confirmed new coronavirus cases per day in the U.S. hit an all-time high.

The U.S. has the most cases in the world, with over 2.5 million confirmed infections and some 125,000 deaths, by Johns Hopkins’ count. But health officials believe the true number of infections is about 10 times higher.

“I’m now afraid of the spread coming from other states because we are one country and people travel,” Cuomo said. “I’m afraid the infection rate in the other states will come back to New York and raise that rate again.”

On Saturday, Cuomo's office announced a possible outbreak connected to a high school graduation in Westchester County. Health officials suspect four students tested positive after coming in contact with a fifth who traveled to Florida before attending the outdoor ceremony. The announcement follows news of two other clusters in the state that stem from an apple packaging plant; at least 120 cases have been confirmed between Oswego and Montgomery County.

Last week, the tri-state governors ordered a quarantine restriction for states that have seen a recent spike in coronavirus infections. The states at the focus of the governors' order have a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents, or higher than a 10% test positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average.

In addition to restrictions on people entering New York from coronavirus hotspots, Gov. Cuomo signed an executive order making New Yorkers ineligible for paid sick leave if they voluntarily travel to hotspot states.

New York now has the lowest seven-day average positivity rate for daily testing in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins. Even the former epicenter of the national crisis, New York City, boasts one of the lowest COVID transmission rates in the U.S. America's two deadliest COVID counties, Queens and Brooklyn, are seeing daily positivity rates below 1.5 percent on a consistent basis.

New Jersey has also driven its infection rate down significantly, though Murphy has expressed concern about young people's rising share of COVID cases, a trend mirroring what health officials are reporting in many other U.S. states.

Copyright NBC New York
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