State Has Lowest Infection Rate in Nation But Cuomo Urges Vigilance

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New York has the lowest transmission rate of COVID-19 of any state in the nation even though it has been gradually reopening areas of the state for a full month.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the statewide transmission rate has been about 1 percent the past several days out of an average of about 50,000 tests administered daily.

But Cuomo warned residents during his Monday briefing not to become lax, urging them to continue to wear masks in public and practice social distancing.

“People should follow the guidelines because the guidelines have been working,” Cuomo said. “They have been working. We have months of data now that says the guidelines make sense. Keep following them because they are working.”

Through Sunday, the state is down to 1,608 COVID-19 hospitalizations, the lowest total since Mar. 19. There were 23 virus-related deaths on Saturday and 25 on Sunday.

For about a week, the state has a new dashboard feature that tracks the infection rate in each of its 10 regions and in each county. During the past week, each region has had steady or slightly declining numbers, with fractional variations from day to day. At its highest point, the Mid-Hudson region, which includes Westchester and Putnam counties, had a 1.3 percent infection. By Sunday it had dipped to 1 percent.

On Sunday, Westchester was on par with the region at 1 percent while Putnam was at 1.4 percent. Ulster County’s infection rate was so low it registered at 0 percent while Rockland and Sullivan counties were at 2.3 and 2.6 percent, respectively.

New York City, which entered a Phase 1 reopening on June 8, has gone from a high of 1.7 percent to 1.3 percent. The highest infection rate among the state’s regions was Western New York, which includes Buffalo, at 1.4 percent.

Several upstate regions began reopening on May 15. The Hudson Valley and Long Island entered Phase 1 on May 26 and 27, respectively, and are now halfway through Phase 2.

“Since reopening, the virus spread has continued to go down,” Cuomo said. “That, my friends, is an extraordinary exception when you look at all the other states around the country where they did the reopening, they didn’t do it smartly and you saw the virus (spread) go up.”

Cuomo pointed to rising infection rates in 22 states across the country, predominantly in the South and West.

Despite the good news, the governor said he was disturbed by a surge in complaints about individuals and businesses – about 25,000 complaints poured in late last week and into the weekend – with many of those from Manhattan and the Hamptons.

Cuomo urged local government to enforce the restrictions, otherwise New York will face the same plight nearly half the country is experiencing.

“If the local governments don’t enforce compliance, they’re not doing anyone a favor because if they don’t enforce compliance, you will see the numbers start to go up, and if the numbers start to go up, you’re going to have to see that area take a step back,” Cuomo said.

In Westchester, there was just one COVID-19-related death over the weekend, said County Executive George Latimer. Active cases have fallen to 775.

Meanwhile, in Putnam County there were nine active cases late last week. Deaths have remained unchanged at 62 since early last week.

Recreation Slowly Reopens

Putnam County Health Commissioner Dr. Michael J. Nesheiwat said that pool operators are submitting individual plans on how they will adhere to social distancing and mask-wearing practices along with outlining the cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces.

While face masks shouldn’t be worn in the water, the six-foot separation will be enforced, he said. When out of the water at pols and beaches, masks must be worn and social distancing maintained.

“As long as we can assure these efforts, we can continue to improve our metrics and proceed to the next phase of reopening,” Nesheiwat said. “We must also remember however that for those who don’t swim well, a pool or a beach can pose a serious risk. No one should swim alone or without supervision.”

In Westchester, the county-operated Saxon Woods Pool in White Plains and the Sprain Ridge Pool in Yonkers are still on track to open next Friday, June 26 while the Willson’s Woods Pool in Mount Vernon and the Tibbetts Brook Pool in Yonkers are scheduled to begin their seasons on Friday, July 3.

County day camps in Westchester with decreased capacity will open July 6. However, the remainder of the summer’s cultural festivals at Kensico Dam Plaza have been canceled.

At the state level, Cuomo announced Sunday that “low-risk” youth sports may resume on July 6 provided the region is at least in Phase 3. The permissible sports are baseball, softball, gymnastics, field hockey, cross country and crew.

On Monday, Cuomo said that for regions in Phase 3 maximum gatherings will be increased from 10 to 25 people.

Five upstate regions have been in Phase 3 since last week with Western New York and the Capital District set to join them as well.

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