New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Saturday pushed back against what he called premature demands to reopen the state, saying he knows people were struggling without jobs but more understanding of the coronavirus was needed.
As governors in about half the United States partially reopen their economies this weekend, Cuomo said he needed much more information on what the pandemic is doing in his hardest-hit state before he loosens restrictions.
“Even when you are in unchartered waters, it doesn’t mean you proceed blindly,” he said. “Use information to determine action – not emotions, not politics, not what people think or feel but what we know in terms of facts.”
Georgia and Texas are leading the way in letting businesses shuttered by the pandemic begin partially reopening. Leaders in those and several other states where the coronavirus has had less of an effect are under pressure to allow people to return to work as government data released this week showed 30 million Americans have sought unemployment benefits since March 21.
Cuomo pointed to the roughly 900 new coronavirus cases that hospitals in New York are still reporting daily, and the fact that officials do not know where those infections are coming from as reason enough to keep the Empire State shutdown.
‘Cannot rush restart’
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy echoed Cuomo’s slow-go restart approach, even as he reported “positive trends”, including a decline in the number of hospital patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
While the number of deaths has trended lower in recent days, New Jersey’s toll, second only to New York’s, stood at 7,742, which Murphy cited as a key reason for maintaining his stay-at-home order.
“The family, friends and neighbours who we have lost are the reason why we cannot rush our restart,” he said at a news briefing. “We need to keep seeing these lines moving in these directions before we can put New Jersey on the road back, and before we’re able to responsibly restart our economy.”
An many US eastern seaboard residents enjoyed a perfect spring day on Saturday, those in New Jersey had access to more outdoor space as Murphy allowed the state’s parks and golf courses to reopen for the first time in a month, warning they would be shut again if social distancing requirements were violated.
“Anecdotal and preliminary” reports suggest the rules were being observed, he said.
Cuomo also released the preliminary results of a statewide antibody survey of about 15,000 people showing 12.3 percent were previously infected with the virus.
It confirmed the results of another test with a smaller sample size released about 10 days ago showing that one in five New York City residents has had the virus, with the Bronx bureau seeing the highest number positive for antibodies at 27.6 percent.
As of Saturday, the number of known infections nationwide had climbed to more than 1.1 million, including about 65,000 deaths.
As testing increases across the country, so does the number of cases.
North Carolina on Saturday posted a record number of new cases with 551 infections, as did Puerto Rico with 182. Iowa hit a record for the second straight day.
Overall, in the United States, there were 34,000 new cases on Friday, the highest daily total since April 24.