Without saying “I told you so,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo today declared that what New York state has done with respect to controlling the COVID-19 virus and planning a cautious reopening using data as the guide, has worked as intended.
Cuomo also announced that hospitals and group homes will be allowed to accept visitors on Friday at their discretion.
“The numbers say, the results say, that it has been better for public health and better for the economy when you have a phased reopening and follow the metrics,” Cuomo told an Albany news conference today.
“There’s no political theory here. We’re dealing with a virus. The virus doesn’t understand Democratic politics, Republican politics. It’s a virus. It’s a public health issue. It deals with facts and that’s what we’ve been using to decide what we do from day-to-day.”
He urged the 21 states and Puerto Rico, which now are seeing dramatic increases in the number of cases, to proceed with caution. “They reopened quickly. They did not have the same phases; they did not have the same controls. They are seeing the number of cases go up. That is a fact,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo said that between May 1 and June 13, the state tested 12,000 people looking for the presence in their blood of antibodies to COVID-19 that would indicate they had been infected. He reported that the percentages of people who tested positive in various regions of the state showed that the virus is no longer spreading rapidly in New York.
In the Hudson Valley, for example, 9% tested positive on May 1 while 9.5% tested positive on June 13, resulting in only a 0.5% increase in positive test results over the six weeks. In western New York, the rate of positives went down over the six weeks, from 6% on May 1 to 3.2% on June 13. In New York City, positive tests went up by 1.6% from 19.9% on May 1 to 21.6% on June 13.
Cuomo cited the newest projection for future COVID-19 deaths from IHME, which is the Washington-based model funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As of yesterday, they project that there will be 200,000 deaths in the U.S. by October.
“Those are not Democratic numbers. Those are not Republican numbers. Those are just numbers my friends and we’re not talking about 1,000 deaths. We’re not talking about 2,000 deaths. We’re talking about tens of thousands of deaths by that projection,” Cuomo said. As he has previously done, Cuomo appealed for the use of common sense and real data instead of wishful thinking.
“I can sit here and say, ‘I have blonde hair, blue eyes, and tiny button nose,’ Cuomo said. “I can say that. But then I run into a problem which are the obvious facts that defy what I’m saying. ‘Well, he said he has blonde hair, blue eyes, and a tiny little button nose.’ Yes, except I’m looking at him and he doesn’t.”
Cuomo announced that the US Open will be held in Queens without fans from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13 He said the United States Tennis Association will take extra precautions to protect players and staff, including robust testing, additional cleaning, extra locker room space and dedicated housing and transportation.
Group homes certified by the state’s Office for People with Developmental Disabilities will be allowed to accept visitors beginning Friday provided they adhere to state guidance and certify that they do, in fact, comply.
Cuomo added to the police reforms he put into effect yesterday by today signing legislation requiring all New York State Police officers to wear body cameras while on patrol and creating the Law Enforcement Misconduct Investigative Office.
According to statistics obtained from the state Department of Health this afternoon, statewide there have been a total of 24,608 COVID-19 deaths in New York.
Deaths in Westchester now total 1,537, with 1,405 Westchester residents falling victim to the virus. The number of Rockland residents who died from the disease is 505. The number of Putnam residents killed by the virus remains at 62. A total of 394 Orange County residents have died from the virus. There have been 157 Dutchess County residents who have died from the disease.
New York has had 384,575 people test positive for the virus. There now have been a cumulative total of 34,358 cases identified in Westchester, 13,460 in Rockland, 1,292 in Putnam, 10,580 in Orange and 4,075 in Dutchess.