New York to allow small festival gatherings as more regions reopen

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday screening of 3,000 people found nearly 14% tested positive for antibodies for the novel coronavirus, suggesting that 2.7 million residents across the state may have been infected with the disease.

The U.S. state of New York will allow celebrations for the upcoming Memorial Day to happen with up to 10 people, as more regions in the state are restarting the economy.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said at Tuesday’s briefing that gatherings of no more than 10 people will be allowed on May 25, when this year’s Memorial day falls, but final decisions are left to local governments.

Under the current “PAUSE” order which is still in effect in much of the downstate region, public gatherings of any size for any purpose are banned and would be dispersed by police, but Cuomo said the tradition of honoring the country’s military members is very important.

Nearly two months into the statewide shutdown, New York has seen a downward trend in some key indicators, including new COVID-19 cases and net change in total hospitalizations. Daily deaths fell to 105 on Monday, “dramatically down than where it was in the first place but is still painfully high,” said Cuomo.

On Wednesday, one more region of the state’s ten regions, the Capital Region, has met all seven requirements for reopening and will step into the first phase of reopening.

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The three regions that will remain in a shutdown till May 28 include New York City (NYC), Long Island, and Mid-Hudson, all in the downstate area and account for over 60 percent of the state’s total population.

The governor urged people to stay vigilant as more regions and businesses are eligible for reopening.

“If you look at the curve in New York compared to the rest of the nation, we’re going down while the curve is still going up in many other regions,” said the governor. “We must continue to do everything we’ve been doing even as we begin to reopen and remember the lessons we’ve learned through all of this.”

Some COVID-19 patients in the state can be visited by their families soon as the state is launching a two-week hospital visitation pilot program in 16 hospitals.

Visits will be time-limited. Visitors will be provided with personal protective equipment to wear, and are subject to symptom and temperature checks, said Cuomo.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday that he expected the city to meet all seven benchmarks for reopening in June.

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“We’re going to watch carefully in each phase to make sure things work and don’t go in the wrong direction. We’re all very devoted to avoiding that boomerang,” said de Blasio at his daily briefing.

The mayor said the city will work with the state’s lawmakers to pass legislation that provides line-of-duty death benefits to the families of municipal employees who died of COVID-19.

He said 270 city employees in New York City have died of the virus so far. “Our public servants have gone above and beyond during this crisis, and the loved ones of those we’ve lost deserve our full support,” said de Blasio.

New York City has reported more than 190,000 COVID-19 cases by Tuesday night as the state’s total rose to over 352,000. Over 28,000 deaths occurred in New York state, with over 20,000 in New York City, according to state and city data.

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