This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Sunday, May 31st, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here.

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.

Dentists Can Reopen Statewide On Monday

4 p.m. Governor Andrew Cuomo said dentists could resume practicing statewide on Monday as long as they as adhere to safety guidelines.

The New York State Dental Association had been lobbying the governor to allow dentists to provide comprehensive services to patients. Since March 20th, as part of Cuomo's coronavirus shutdown order, New York dental offices have been limited to emergency and urgent care. Along with doctors and nurses, dentists were considered at high risk for exposure and infection to the virus.

"Remaining in emergent/urgent only status in New York has the potential to threaten overall patient health," Mark Feldman, executive director of NYSDA, wrote in his letter to the Governor. "Dental health is human health, and neglecting care can lead to serious health issues. Further delays in full dental care will move many day-to-day cases to emergency status, making the ultimate response more complex and expensive."

The New York Department of Health is expected to issue updated guidelines for dentists on Monday.

1:30 p.m.: New York State recorded another 56 known COVID-19 deaths, the lowest in more than two months since the coronavirus pandemic began, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday.

At the peak of the crisis in April, the level of new deaths approached 800 for several days in a row.

"This reduction in the number of deaths is tremendous progress from where we were," Cuomo said, during a press conference in Albany. “We’ve gone through hell and back but we are on the other side."

The decline in deaths and hospitalizations come as the majority of the state, with the exception of New York City, has already reopened manufacturing, construction and curbside retail businesses under phase 1. On Friday, portions of upstate and the western tier of New York were permitted to move onto phase 2, which allows retail stores, hair salons and barbershops to reopen their doors.

Cuomo, however, reserved most of his remarks for the wave of protests in New York City and across the country over the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis resident who was killed by a police officer. The governor described some of the video footage showing the NYPD's violent protest policing tactics as "truly disturbing" and said he had called for an investigation by state Attorney General Letitia James.

"George Floyd must not have died in vain," he said. “Mr. Floyd’s killing must be a moment in which this nation actually grew and progressed to make this place a better place.”

James's report will be due in 30 days.

Cuomo was not asked about how the protests would impact the city's reopening, which is scheduled for Monday, June 8th. Experts have repeatedly warned that large gatherings could result in a resurgence of infections. In Missouri, for example, health officials have been trying to trace the contacts of a person who attended pool parties in Lake of the Ozarks on Memorial Day weekend after discovering that the individual tested positive for coronavirus.

During a press conference earlier in the day, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he did not believe the protests would not have an impact on the city's reopening plan.

NYC COVID-19 Deaths, Hospitalizations Continue To Fall

Following a third day of intense protests over the killing of George Floyd, Mayor Bill de Blasio focused his daily briefing on Sunday on how the city—namely the NYPD—responded to the confrontations.

But the city is still grappling with COVID-19. There are nearly 200,000 cases of coronavirus in NYC—as of Saturday, the city's Health Department reported 199,893 cases, plus 51,793 hospitalizations. Of note, hospitalizations dropped to under 2,000 in the city, and the city only recorded 35 deaths as a result of the virus, which is very low compared to previous daily death tallies.

Right now, there are 21,512 confirmed and probable deaths due to COVID-19 in NYC.

The city is projected to begin the first phase of restarting the economy on June 8th. Of the state's and city's combined 10 indicators for reopening, the two that NYC still needs to meet are availability of hospital beds—the city needs to be 30%, but it's currently at 28%—and number of critical cases at public hospitals—currently 384, but the number must be under 375.

The mayor did connect the pain from the killing of Floyd, a black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his knee for minutes, with the current pandemic. On Saturday, he said, "Let's be clear, the coronavirus crisis has created a depth of pain that still has not been accounted for. So many New Yorkers have lost someone but that is particularly true in communities of color and particularly true in the African-American community. That loss, that loss is being felt so deeply because everyone knows it's not based on equality. It's not that everyone lost the same way. Communities of color lost so much more."

One protester, Tiffany Murrell, told Gothamist on Friday, "I’m full of anguish. Being out here is hard—I have hypertension, I’m at special risk in this pandemic, but I feel I have to be out here. I’m scared for my brothers, my nephews, and for myself."