‘We did it’: Cuomo says NYC on track to enter Phase 2 on Monday amid plummeting coronavirus death toll

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

ALBANY — New York City is on track to begin phase two of the coronavirus reopening process next week, Gov. Cuomo said Wednesday, paving the way for a slate of long-shuttered businesses in the five boroughs to get back to basics, including restaurants.
The expected Monday phase two kickoff is in the cards because New York’s coronavirus death tolls and positive test rates have plummeted to record lows, Cuomo said in a briefing from the State Capitol.
“The numbers are good, so New York is on track to enter phase two on Monday,” Cuomo said. “We did it ... We are stronger for it, I believe that. We’re stronger as a community.”

Seventeen New Yorkers died from COVID-19 on Tuesday, Cuomo reported, the lowest daily death toll by far since the pandemic hit the Empire State in March.

Along with the sinking death count, Cuomo said less than 1% of nearly 60,000 COVID-19 tests performed across the state Tuesday came back positive, signaling the virus is on the retreat.

“This is one of the best days for New York since we started,” Cuomo said.

With all arrows pointing in the right direction, Cuomo said — somewhat morosely — that he will hold his last daily coronavirus briefing on Friday after doing them every day for the past few months.

“These daily briefings, while fun, take a lot of time,” he said, adding he may still do an occasional briefing, just not every morning.

He added, “Now that we are on the other side of this, we’ll climb new mountains together.”

Cuomo’s optimistic phase two announcement stood in sharp contrast to Mayor de Blasio’s comments just a few hours earlier.

In his own briefing from City Hall, the mayor did not want to commit to a phase two start date for the city, saying there are still too many unknowns about how recent mass protests against police brutality may have impacted COVID-19 spread.

“We’re all mindful we had a very unique situation with the protests,” de Blasio said.

“If we’re judging by today’s numbers, we’re in great shape,” he continued, “but what we’re looking for going into the weekend is, do we see any variation there? I know the state’s very concerned about this as well. It’s a day-to-day discussion.”

In phase two, restaurants are allowed to open their doors to outdoor service at 50% capacity, as long as six feet of social distancing can be maintained between patrons. Indoor service remains prohibited.

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