Gov. Andrew Cuomo slammed the federal government and President Donald Trump Monday for a failed coronavirus response that could imperil New York despite the state’s continued decline in transmission rates, hospitalizations and deaths.
As COVID-19 cases surge in 32 states, including several in record territory, travelers can descend on the New York metropolitan area from throughout the country, which can reignite a spread, he said.
He called on President Trump to sign an executive order to mandate wearing of masks in public and for the president to wear one himself.
“It’s time to wake up, America,” Cuomo said. “The White House has been in denial about the coronavirus from the get-go and the federal response has just been wrong.”
On June 24, Cuomo announced that New York, New Jersey and Connecticut enacted a mandatory 14-day quarantine for people coming from states where COVID-19 cases are rising rapidly in an attempt to guard the metropolitan area against an increase in cases.
Under the advisory, a traveler from any state that registers 10 positive cases per 100,000 people on a seven-day rolling average or has a seven-day average of 10 percent positive COVID-19 test results based on the state’s entire population will be subject to the quarantine, Cuomo said.
Last week, he listed nine states that qualify for the restriction: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington state, Texas and Utah. The statistics and which state’s travelers would be subject to the regulation will be updated on a daily basis, Cuomo said.
Violators would be subject to a mandatory quarantine and up to a $2,000 fine for the first violation, up to $5,000 for the second offense and up to $10,000 for anyone who caused harm.
The governor also chided the administration for its poor record on testing. He said New York has more than 750 testing sites statewide while the federal government has only set up 41 across the United States.
Cuomo’s comments came as New York’s metrics monitoring the virus is at its best levels since the start of the crisis. On Sunday, there were only 853 COVID-19-related hospitalizations statewide, the lowest total since Mar. 18. The number of virus-related deaths were five and seven on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, he said.
Out of 46,428 tests administered on Sunday, there were just 391 positive cases, or .84 percent, the lowest rate since the state started tracking that information. Nine of the state’s 10 regions were at or below a 1 percent transmission, including New York City at 1 percent, Long Island at 0.7 percent and the Mid-Hudson region at 0.6 percent.
Westchester recorded a 0.7 percent rate and Putnam clocked in at 0.9 percent, according to the state’s dashboard on Monday.
Cuomo said the transmission rates have remained low despite five upstate regions having reached Phase 4, with Western New York joining that group tomorrow. Mid-Hudson and Long Island are now about halfway through Phase 3 and New York City is in Phase 2.
The states that have seen record case numbers have generally been in excess of 10 percent.
He attributed New York’s success so far to the public’s vigilance about mask wearing and social distancing. The governor estimated compliance at about 95 percent.
“Our reopening has worked very well,” Cuomo said. “We’re not going backwards; we’re going forward. A lot of these other states actually have had to go backwards.”
He sounded a cautionary warning, however, particularly about indoor dining in New York City, which would start at 50 percent capacity when the five boroughs move to Phase 3. That is scheduled for next Monday. State officials are still examining whether indoor dining can be done safely in the city and are scheduled to issue guidance on Wednesday, he said.
Cuomo said the state is requiring that all indoor malls install an HEPA filter into the air filtration systems. It is a high-efficiency particulate air filter, which can help filter out the COVID-19 virus. It is also being recommended for offices.
On Monday, Westchester announced that it was down to 471 active cases despite the 14-case spike connected to the June 20 Horace Greeley High School graduation. Hospitalizations are down to 73, and after two nights of no deaths, there were four fatalities in the county on Sunday, bringing the death toll to 1,424.
In Putnam County, the latest statistics show 12 active cases, zero hospitalizations and 63 deaths since the start of the crisis.