This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Sunday, July 5th, 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. 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:
- NYC Enters Phase 3 Reopening Monday As Infections Increase Across U.S.
- Cuomo Mum On How Quarantines For Hotspot Visitors Get Enforced
- Relief Could Come For Laid-Off New Yorkers Struggling To Keep Health Insurance
3:15 p.m.: The 9/11 Memorial is reopening to the public on Sunday nearly four months after closing in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"All visitors to the Memorial will be required to wear masks, and those who are not feeling well are advised to stay home," a notice from the 9/11 Memorial & Museum reads. "Social distancing will be enforced. Hand sanitizer dispensers will be located throughout the plaza. Please use hand sanitizer after touching the Memorial names panels."
On the Fourth of July, Mayor Bill de Blasio joined former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, and others for a moment of silence for those who died of COVID-10 during the reopening of the memorial, which honors those killed during the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The museum remains closed as part of New York City's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Hours at the memorial will be 1 to 8 p.m. to allow for deep cleaning. Visitors must follow these health guidelines.
NYC Enters Phase 3 Reopening Monday As Infections Increase Across U.S.
11:53 a.m.: New York City is set to enter Phase 3 of reopening on Monday as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to wane here. But elsewhere in the country, COVID-19 is spreading at an alarming rate.
In New York State, eight people died of the virus on Saturday, for a total of 24,904 official deaths since the crisis began, according to the latest statistics released by Governor Andrew Cuomo's office.
Hospitalizations dropped by 12 to 832 and people in intensive care units dropped by 12 to 178. NYC's COVID-19 positivity rate was .9 percent Saturday, well below the 5 percent threshold the state is monitoring as a part of its "early warning" signs.
Cuomo officially announced Sunday morning that NYC will enter Phase 3, but without indoor dining due to concerns about the spread of the virus inside restaurants and "out of an abundance of caution," the governor said.
"New York City is a crowded, dense urban area and—until recently—was the global epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis," Cuomo said in a statement.
Meanwhile, cases elsewhere in the country continues to rise in other states.
On the Fourth of July, Florida and Texas hit record highs of new cases—11,445 and 8,258, respectively. The country has 2.8 million cases and more than 129,000 deaths as of Sunday morning, according to a New York Times tracker. A map shows new cases are rising in hotspots around the country, and across several southern states.
During an Independence Day celebration, President Donald Trump claimed the rising number of cases was from high testing numbers and touted the government's handling of the virus, blaming China instead for the outbreak saying the country should be "held fully accountable." (In NYC, early data indicated the outbreak had actually originated from Europe.) In Washington D.C. on Saturday, Trump said "we've made a lot of progress" and that "our strategy is moving along well."
"It goes out in one area and rears back its ugly face in another area," Trump said. "We've learned how to put out the flame."
"There were no tests for a new virus, but now we have tested almost 40 million people," he said. "By so doing, we show cases, 99 percent of which are totally harmless, results that no other country can show because no other country has testing that we have. Not in terms of the numbers or in terms of the quality."
The president's claims are false. How deadly the virus is remains an open question because of the unknown number of asymptomatic cases and an unknown number of COVID-19 deaths that have not been officially counted as being caused by the virus. About 4.6 percent of confirmed cases have resulted in fatalities in the U.S.
Even cases that do not result in death are not "totally harmless"; patients are left with symptoms for months, sometimes ending up on ventilators, or suffering severe lung damage and potential longterm impacts.
An epidemiologist with Johns Hopkins University recently penned an op-ed, calling Trump's theory that more testing has led to the increase in cases "dangerously wrong," writing that some states increase testing but see positivity rates decline.
Trump also claimed a vaccine or treatment would be found well before the year's end. The head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci recently said the safety and effectiveness of a potential vaccine wouldn't be known until winter.
In recent weeks, the White House has taken a backseat on the issue, putting the responsibility onto localities. The White House's coronavirus task force meetings have become more infrequent while cases reemerge and rise, according to an NPR analysis.