Once the US epicenter of the pandemic, New York state has made a major turnaround as much of it edges towards fully reopening, with just 23 deaths announced Sunday.
At a news conference, Cuomo praised the “achievement by New Yorkers” but said the numbers could change in a week. “It is our behavior, nothing more nothing less,” that determines the future of reopening, he said.
There have been reports from across the state of social distancing violations, large gatherings being held and people not wearing masks, Cuomo said. Twenty-five thousand complaints have been filed against businesses for violating the reopening plan.
Manhattan and the Hamptons are “the leading areas in the state with violations,” the governor said.
“If we have a high number of violations of the policy which is tantamount to a high likelihood of the spread of the virus, and the local governments are not monitoring policing, doing the compliance, yes there is a very real possibility that we would roll back the reopening in those areas. The only alternative would be to pause the entire reopening.”
He said the state is watching for a spike in numbers.
Numbers still increasing in some states
While New York’s numbers have improved, the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have gone up in some states, a bleak reminder that the pandemic that’s infected more than 2 million people is not over.
More than 115,700 people have died from Covid-19 in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University.
As of Saturday, coronavirus cases were still increasing in 18 states — several of which saw record or near-record highs. In 17 states, the numbers were trending downward, and numbers remained steady in 13 states.
Texas saw more than 2,200 people hospitalized with coronavirus Saturday, bypassing a record high the previous day, CNN affiliate KTVT reported. North Carolina set a record with 823 hospitalizations Saturday.
Of the nearly 20 states where numbers surged, Oregon, Nevada, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Alabama and South Carolina recorded an increase of over 50% in the past week as compared to the previous one.
The increase in coronavirus cases in several states is not necessarily a second spike, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases.
“However, when you start to see increases in hospitalization, that’s a surefire situation that you’ve got to pay close attention to,” he said Friday.
Early hotspot sees a major improvement
New York has experienced a drop in number of deaths linked to the virus, Gov. Cuomo said Sunday.
The state reported 23 lives lost due to the coronavirus Sunday, its lowest number since the pandemic hit. And its Covid-related hospitalizations were at 1,657, the lowest since March 20.
“We breathe a deep sigh of relief today,” Cuomo said, adding that the death count, among all the numbers, was the “one number we can’t fix.”
He noted that Staten Island had an uptick in percentage of positive cases which he said could be an “aberration” but that officials were “watching it.” Cuomo referred to Oregon and Utah having to “reverse their reopening plan.”
In Oregon on Friday, Gov. Kate Brown put a seven-day pause on moving forward with reopening after a rise in cases following loosening of restrictions.
“This is essentially a statewide yellow light,” Brown said.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert has also paused the lifting of restrictions following spikes in Covid-19 cases over the past two weeks.
Some of the increased cases may be a result of more testing. The number of new tests reported per day in the country has generally tripled since mid-April, according to data collected by the Covid Tracking Project.
Officials urged people to continue following social distancing recommendations and wearing masks in public, among other CDC guidelines.
“We now know that this disease has a high degree of asymptomatic spread, which is why we encourage people to wear face coverings,” US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams told Detroit TV station WJBK.
Most Americans are following guidelines
While the pandemic shows no signs of slowing down, the good news is most Americans have been following guidelines on ways to combat it.
Close to 80% of Americans surveyed nationwide said they had self-isolated last month, according to a CDC report released Friday.
Nationwide, 74% of those surveyed said they wore face coverings in public either always or often.
And 84.3% of those surveyed believed their state’s mitigation strategies were the right balance or even not restrictive enough, the survey team, led by the CDC’s Michael Tynan, said in the agency’s weekly report.
“Most adults reported they would not feel safe if government-ordered community mitigation strategies such as stay-at-home orders and nonessential business closures were lifted nationwide at the time the survey was conducted, although a minority of these adults who did not feel safe wanted these restrictions lifted despite the risks,” the team concluded.