Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo today said that the Hudson Valley Region is on track to enter the third phase of the four-phase reopening plan on June 23. This would allow restaurants to resume indoor service of patrons, although with capacity and social distancing restrictions. It also would allow personal care businesses, such as tattoo parlors, to reopen.
Cuomo signed legislation prohibiting health care employers from penalizing employees for making complaints of employer violations. The new law is designed to allow employees to speak more freely about their working conditions and employee or patient safety issues.
Cuomo announced that the Department of Financial Services has reached an agreement with New York’s credit reporting industry to help consumers facing hardship because of the pandemic. The credit reporting agencies will:
- Provide one free credit report each month through November;
- Inform financial institutions of procedures that allow them to report missed or delinquent payments in ways that minimize the impact on consumers’ credit histories and credit scores;
- Apprise financial institutions of their credit reporting obligations under the federal CARES Act, which provides relief for consumers; and
- Communicate with financial institutions about credit reporting that may not comply with the requirements of the CARES Act.
Cuomo charged that the federal government is making “a historic mistake” in the way it is handling the COVID-19 crisis at the same time that he declared that New York state is on the other side of the COVID mountain, having controlled the virus at least for now. He said the situation is so well controlled in New York that on Friday he will be ending his daily briefings on the outbreak.
Cuomo reported 17 deaths yesterday in New York from the virus, two in nursing homes and 15 in hospitals. He described it as the lowest number of lives lost to date.
Cuomo said that the Trump administration is wrong in the way it is advising states and the people of the nation to reopen without regard to the nationwide increase in cases. He said that denying the facts about what is happening, while allowing the marketplace to decide what is done to reopen the economy is the wrong approach. He also chastised conservative commentators and specifically named Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers the New York Post and The Wall Street Journal for giving more weight to political rhetoric than facts.
The Journal today carried an opinion piece by Vice President Mike Pence in which he alleges “the news media has tried to scare the American people every step of the way” and describes concern about a possible second wave of the coronavirus pandemic as “overblown.”
Pence’s column failed to mention that 20 states and Puerto Rico currently are seeing significantly increasing caseloads. As of this morning, there were 2.1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. with more than 119,000 deaths. A statistical model that had been used by the White House and referenced by Cuomo predicts 200,000 deaths by Oct. 1. The projection comes from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Cuomo ridiculed the explanation given by Pence and others in the Trump administration and their political allies that the increase in the number of cases being seen in the U.S. is a result of increased testing.
“Hospitalizations are going up. The number of people going into hospitals is going up,” Cuomo said. “How do you explain that? Are they pretending to be sick? Are they not really sick? And you see the number of hospitalizations going up in those places where the percentage is going up in testing. First, their argument on testing doesn’t make any sense because not only is testing going up but the percentage of positives is going up. But even put that aside, because it’s complicated for people, people walking into the hospitals are going up, which by definition means more people are getting sick.”
Cuomo said that New Yorkers have a strong interest in what happens in other states because travelers could easily bring more cases of the virus to New York.
Cuomo blamed the federal government for mistakenly focusing on China as the source of the spread of the virus and missing the fact that the virus came to New York from Europe.
“The federal government didn’t do a European travel ban until when? March 16,” said Cuomo. “The federal government didn’t screen those people because the virus was supposed to be in China according to them. That’s how the crisis was created in New York. That’s why New York had the high infection rate.”
Cuomo answered Republicans and conservative commentators who have criticized New York for requiring that nursing homes take elderly COVID-19 patients after they have been discharged from hospitals by pointing out that the state was just following guidance issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Cuomo said this Friday, June 19, will be a holiday for state workers in observance of Juneteenth, which commemorates the ending of slavery in the U.S. He said that he will propose legislation to make Juneteenth an annual holiday in New York state.
According to statistics obtained from the state Department of Health this afternoon, statewide there have been a total of 24,629 COVID-19 deaths in New York.
Deaths in Westchester now total 1,539, with 1,407 Westchester residents falling victim to the virus. The number of Rockland residents who died from the disease is 506. 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 were 156 deaths recorded in Dutchess County.
New York has had 385,142 people test positive for the virus. There now have been a cumulative total of 34,385 cases identified in Westchester, 13,467 in Rockland, 1,294 in Putnam, 10,599 in Orange and 4,077 in Dutchess.
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