Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Monday the state is considering whether to slow down New York City’s reopening to delay indoor dining because of “troubling signs” about compliance with requirements on social distancing and mask wearing, as well as worries about the potential return of the coronavirus with travelers from other states.
He criticized the federal response for what he said has been downplaying the urgency of the COVID-19 crisis and emphasizing a quick reopening of state economies. In making those remarks, he touted New York’s continued progress in curtailing the virus while other states continue to see a spike in viral spread.
“It’s time to wake up, America,” Cuomo said. “The White House has been in denial on coronavirus from the get-go, and the federal response has just been wrong.”
Cuomo used visual aids to make his points, unveiling alongside his trusted aide Melissa DeRosa a mountain mock-up, made of Styrofoam, in the shape of the virus’s progression in the state, with a sharp rise to a peak of infections on Day 42 that declined steadily until Day 111 of the crisis.
“You know what this is? This is the mountain” of coronavirus cases. “This is the mountain that New Yorkers climbed.”
He added: “This was the trajectory of COVID in our state. We don’t want to climb this mountain again … and that’s why the phased reopening … Doing this once in life is enough.”
Cuomo also displayed a photograph of President Donald Trump to ask him to take more decisive action to stop the coronavirus, starting with issuing an executive order to require mask wearing in public places across the country — as Cuomo did in New York.
In asking the president to lead by example, he showed another photo slide with a mask superimposed on Trump’s face and the message “PUT A MASK ON IT!”
“If we are going to turn this around, it’s going to take the White House … If you want to help stop COVID-19, then they should start telling the people of this country the truth,” he said at one point.
The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals across New York has continued to drop, as the state defies the national trend on the spread of the virus, Cuomo had also said during a Monday morning interview where he also expressed concerns about compliance with preventive measures in New York City.
“Our numbers are good, very good right now, but there are troubling signs,” Cuomo told host Pat Kiernan, during a telephone interview with the NY1’s “Mornings On 1” news show. “We still have large gatherings which are going on, which are not helpful. We went through the protests, and now we’re seeing continued large gatherings. We’re seeing large social gatherings on sidewalks, et cetera, which is not helpful.”
Cuomo said that the state will continue to watch how the city residents are responding as the boroughs reopen their economic activity and loosen other restrictions, and may consider slowing down the process before the city enters its next phase.
New York City was set to enter Phase 3 on July 6, but Cuomo said he will be speaking with city officials and business owners about malls and indoor dining.
The city remains the only region that remains in the second phase of reopening. Phase 3 would bring back indoor eateries and personal care businesses. Long Island is on Phase 3.
“We have a week before New York City enters the next phase, and we have numbers every day, but I’m going to be speaking to the electeds in New York City and the business owners in New York City,” he told Kiernan. “Malls and indoor dining are things that I’m concerned about and we may consider slowing them down for next week. Not going backwards, but we may actually slow them down.”
De Blasio: Hitting the pause button
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday New York City is considering hitting the pause button on allowing restaurants to reopen for indoor dining, currently planned to restart July 6 after being banned for months.
“Phase 3 is right around the corner. But we’re also constantly looking at the facts. The facts have been worrisome. In the course of this week, it got worse and worse around the country, and got worse and worse with this nexus to bars and restaurants. We saw it. The state saw it. Everyone started talking and saying, ‘hey, we have an issue here.’ We’re always going to make adjustments,” he said, speaking at his daily news conference and referring to the state’s phased reopening tiers. The city is currently in Phase 2, which allows outdoor dining and offices and barbers to open, with certain restrictions.
The mayor cited the experience last week of a bar in East Lansing, Michigan, where 85 people contracted coronavirus after visiting the establishment.
De Blasio said the state and city would provide more information in the next day about whether or not the reopening would proceed. He said the city plans to reach out to every eatery eligible for outdoor dining to help with the bureaucratic process.
“My view is, we can go into Phase 3 on all the other fronts. We can do that effectively. We can do the outdoor dining on a much bigger scale. But the indoor, we really need to examine closely.”
Under an executive order Cuomo signed in the spring, the state would ultimately decide what to do.
Even if indoor dining is ultimately allowed to resume July 6, there would be social distancing and other rules to limit virus transmission.
As far as the state’s performance in curtailing the virus, Cuomo said there was continued progress reflected in the latest figures from Sunday.
He said 853 people were hospitalized for the coronavirus, the lowest number since the crisis peaked in the state. He said seven people died of related causes on Sunday, a significantly lower daily death toll from a peak of about 800 a day.
Only 3 new patients at Northwell
On Long Island, Northwell Health on Monday said it only had three COVID-19 related admissions in the past 24 hours at the 19 hospitals it owns and operates, and none were in the five boroughs or Nassau County.
The admissions were at Huntington Hospital and Southside Hospital in Bay Shore.
Northwell said it had 286 COVID-19 hospitalized patients, down from 326 at the same period a week ago.
Cuomo once more voiced concerns about residents of other states, where new cases of coronavirus are rising, who could bring back the virus to New York.
Last week, he joined the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut in issuing a tristate travel advisory, requiring travelers coming from states with high levels of COVID-19 infections to quarantine themselves for 14 days upon arrival. The states of Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah were covered under the initial quarantine order.
With David Reich-Hale and Matthew Chayes
Check back for updates on this developing story