This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Saturday, July 4th, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here.
New York City is in Phase 2 of reopening now, which includes outdoor dining; hair salons and barbershops; and playgrounds are open, . Here's a look at preparing for the spread of coronavirus is here, and if you have lingering questions about the virus, here is our regularly updated coronavirus FAQ. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.
Here's the latest:
It's July 4th, and Governor Andrew Cuomo would really like everyone to be very careful. In a statement released on Friday, the governor pleaded, "This holiday weekend please wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands, and stay New York smart."
He explained, "New York continues to make progress combatting the scourge of COVID-19, even as we see heavily increasing infections in other states." Data from Thursday showed hospitalizations declined, while the statewide positivity rate ticked up to 1.38 percent, with 918 new coronavirus cases. Here are the rates from Tuesday to Thursday:
New York City's rate grew by 0.40 percent, as did Western New York; other regions' rates increased by more, such as the Mid-Hudson region that grew from 0.80 percent to 1.40 percent; Mohawk Valley, which went from 1.40 percent to 2.90 percent; and North Country, from 0.40 percent to 1.20 percent.
The Mid-Hudson region includes Westchester and Rockland Counties. Westchester is where a student who returned from Florida for a drive-in graduation, and later attended a party, tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the state to ask graduation attendees to quarantine. There are at least 19 cases associated with that cluster.
In Rockland County, about 100 people, who were reportedly mostly in their 20s, attended a party where the host had coronavirus symptoms. The host later tested positive, and eight other guests also tested positive. County officials eventually had to issue subpoenas to some people who had been at the party because they refused to answer contact tracers' calls; the individuals eventually cooperated, after being reminded of the $2,000/day fine.
Mid-Hudson is also in Phase 3 of their reopening, which includes indoor dining at reduced levels. New York City is about to enter Phase 3, but indoor dining will not resume, because congregating people indoors helps the virus spread more quickly.
Cuomo has previously said he expects the number of cases to go up when regions reopen, especially during the summer. "You increase economic activity, we expect to see an increase in numbers," Cuomo said on May 16th. "It depends on how people react and it depends on their personal behavior. Are they wearing masks? Are they using hand sanitizer? It’s getting warmer. There's going to be a natural increase in activity anyway. People are going to come out of their homes."
On Friday, he reminded, "I cannot repeat enough that our actions today—those of individuals being smart and following all precautions, and local governments enforcing the state's guidelines—will determine which direction these numbers go."
The Fourth of July also marks the reopening of the 9/11 Memorial, which had closed on March 13th because of the virus. Visitors are expected to abide by safety protocols, which include wearing a mask and social distancing. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to be on hand for the ceremonial reopening today. It will be open to the general public tomorrow with adjusted hours from 1 to 8 p.m.