Read our guide to understanding New York on PAUSE, NY's stay-at-home order, as well as what the upstate reopening means (NYC is expected to move into Phase 1 on June 8th); 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.
Western New York And Capital Region Set To Enter Phase 2
3:30 p.m. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that Western New York and the Capital Region can move on to phase 2 of the state's reopening plan.
Western New York, which includes Erie County, can begin phase 2 on Tuesday, while the Capital Region can start on Wednesday.
Cuomo said global public health experts had reviewed the data for both regions prior to his decision to allow further business reopenings.
Under phase 2, office-based jobs, real estate, barbershops, salons, and in-store retail can reopen subject to safety and social distancing guidelines.
Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country and the Southern Tier began phase 2 on Friday.
The Mid-Hudson region, which includes Westchester County, and Long Island both still remain in phase 1, which is limited to construction, manufacturing, wholesale services and curbside retail.
New York City is set to enter phase 1 next Monday, June 8th.
Today, New York reported the lowest rate of positive test results since the pandemic began. Of 50,000 tests, less than 2 percent were positive.
Cuomo Says Protests Could Exacerbate Spread Of Virus
12:30 p.m. Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday warned that mass protests in New York could jeopardize the progress the state has made in battling coronavirus.
Daily new deaths from the virus in New York State fell to 54, the lowest number in more than two months. Of the 50,000 tests performed across the state on Sunday, only 1,000 were positive, Cuomo said.
"Don't snatch defeat from the jaws of reopening," Cuomo said, during his press briefing.
After becoming the global epicenter of the pandemic in March, New York City is one week away from reopening. Both Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have indicated that the reopening date would proceed as planned.
"You turn on TV, there are mass gatherings that could be potentially infecting hundreds and hundreds of people after everything we have done," Cuomo said.
Like other elected officials, the governor said he was worried about the possibility of "super spreaders" among the large gathering of demonstrators.
He and Howard Zucker, the state health commissioner, said that the consequences would not be clear for several weeks due to the incubation period of the virus
Cuomo added that the low infection rate would help mitigate further spread but he and Zucker urged protesters to "be smart" and use proper safety precautions like masks and social distancing.
Prior to Cuomo's comments, de Blasio also acknowledged the detrimental impact of the large protests on controlling the pandemic.
"This could intensify the spread of the coronavirus just at point where we have been able to beat it back profoundly," the mayor said. "Please try to observe social distancing."
Large Protests Spark Concerns Over Virus Resurgence
The sustained nationwide protests against police violence and the killing of George Floyd are raising concerns of a possible second wave of COVID-19 infections in many cities and states, which have only recently reopened.
The sight of throngs of police and demonstrators clashing, often without masks, comes at a precarious moment in New York City in its ongoing battle against COVID-19. The number of daily new cases have dramatically fallen to roughly 100 in recent days, after once being as high as 6,300.
But experts have warned against relaxing restrictions too soon and becoming overconfident about beating back the virus. "Despite decreasing rates of hospitalization (and mortality) in the NYC area, we are very much still in this pandemic," Dr. Barun Mathema, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, recently told Gothamist.
The city is set to partially reopen for business on June 8th, but officials have always said that any reopening would be always been contingent on a continued decline the number of people testing positive, among other factors. Now, after two and a half months of sheltering-in-place, social distancing measures no longer appear to be a priority among protesters nor police officials.
On Sunday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the protests should not have an impact on the city's restart date.
“In terms of impact on our reopening, I see none,” he said, during a press conference.
Despite the emphasis over the last few weeks on expanded testing, he did not urge demonstrators to go get tested.
The New York Times later reported that Dr. Theodore Long, who is heading up the city's contact tracing program, had "urged anyone who had been involved in the demonstrations to get tested for the virus."
Reached for a follow-up on Long's statement, a City Hall spokesperson replied, "Any person who went to a protest who is concerned about their health can come get tested at one of our 150+ sites."
In Los Angeles, health officials expressed concern about "super spreaders" among protesters. And Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms advised protesters to get tested for the virus.
“If you were out protesting last night, you probably need to go get a COVID test this week,” Bottoms said Saturday. “There is still a pandemic in America that’s killing black and brown people at higher numbers.”