After nearly three months of lockdowns in the state of New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has finally decided to give the green light to fast-tracking reopening plans.
“We did not just flatten the curve — we bent the curve,” Cuomo said on Saturday. “Our metrics are all, today, very good. We are going to open the valve more than we originally anticipated because the metrics are so good.”
New York has had the worst coronavirus outbreak in the nation, and Democrat leaders in the state showed signs of reluctance to lift restrictions even as the rest of the US made big strides towards reopening in May.
However, in his daily press conference on Saturday, Cuomo laid out some of the specific plans that would be implemented next week. Most of the state will be allowed to enter Phase two of the reopening plan, and New York City will enter Phase one.
In Phase two, synagogues, mosques and churches will be allowed to open at 25 percent capacity, a privilege that was previously slated to be reserved for Phase four.
However, Cuomo was careful to reiterate that “this does not mean you go to a temple or a mosque and sit right next to a person. You have to socially distance,” despite the fact the protesters filling the streets of the state’s major cities have openly flouted social distancing rules for almost two full weeks.
New York City has had the largest protests in the state, and despite the obvious lack of social distancing at the gatherings and the unknown consequences that could materialize in the coming weeks, Cuomo later tweeted that “We did the impossible. On Monday NYC will open phase one. We didn’t just flatten the curve — we crushed it.”
Risking a spike
Cuomo’s decision fast-track reopening was predicated on the fact that total hospitalizations in the state dropped to 2,603 “from a record-high of 18,825 during the peak of the pandemic, and 35 people in New York passed away due to COVID-19, down from a record-high of 800 just eight weeks ago,” per the governor’s website.
However, New York City has experienced an alarming spike in cases in the last several days — a fact that Cuomo failed to address, though he did caution protesters streaming into the city for a full weekend of protests that “out of an abundance of caution, assume that you are infected.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed on Friday that the city had experienced a 76 percent spike in cases from Thursday.
Fox News reported that in NYC, “the number of people admitted to hospitals with suspected cases of COVID-19 jumped from 48 people Thursday to 84 people Friday.”
De Blasio indicated on Friday that he’s concerned about the spike in cases, though he said he would be “surprised” if the protests were the reason for the spike. In order to enter Phase one of the state’s reopening plan, NYC must have less than 200 persons with suspected cases of coronavirus in the city’s hospitals.