New York to accelerate reopening as COVID-19 deaths hit new low

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The U.S. state of New York on Saturday reported 35 COVID-19 deaths, the lowest daily toll from a peak of no fewer than 700 a day in April.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who announced this at his daily news briefing, said it was “a really good news” and a “big sigh of relief compared to where we were”.

The latest figure broke Thursday’s record-low of 42 deaths statewide.

Cuomo said with the latest result, the state would have to accelerate the reopening of its economy scheduled to begin on Monday.

“We are going to open the valve more than we originally anticipated because the metrics are so good,” he said, sounding a note of warning in the same breath.

“Reopening of the economy is a valve, and you can open it faster, you can open it slower.

“We have seen it open very fast, we have seen states and countries get into trouble, and then they had to close again.

“We say we are going to open the valve incrementally, and then watch the metrics,’’ he said.

The governor said he would take further steps in addition to the reopening guidelines already issued.

He said he would sign an executive order mandating temperature checks on people as a condition to access public and commercial buildings.

Cuomo stated that synagogues, churches and mosques would be allowed to open at 25 per cent capacity.

But this will depend on places of worship hitting the state’s phase 2 requirements in their areas of location, the governor said.

“It doesn’t mean you go to a temple or a mosque and sit right next to a person. You have to socially distance.

“We leave it to our faith-based partners to come up with a smart strategy and way to do this,” he added.

Citing the World Health Organisation, Cuomo said masks were now more important in preventing spread of the virus than originally thought.

He said the state would make sure people were able to get face masks amid price gouging by vendors.

“We are going to sign an executive order saying that we will prosecute price gouging on personal protective equipment.

“To give you an idea of where we were, before the pandemic, we were paying 70 cents (N263) for the N95 masks used by healthcare professionals.

“But in the middle of the pandemic, we were paying seven dollars (N1,128) per mask for the same mask,” he said.

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