Cuomo says NY can avoid coronavirus ‘spike’ — despite inevitable rise amid reopenings

Deaths from the coronavirus ticked higher in New York over the last 24 hours, but hospitalizations and new cases continued to decline, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who warned Saturday about complacency amid data showing reason for optimism.

An additional 157 people died of COVID-19 Friday, 105 in hospitals and 52 in nursing homes, a jump from the 132 recorded the day before, the governor said during his coronavirus briefing in Albany. The state’s death toll now stands at 22,478.

“That number has been stubborn,” Cuomo said of the daily death toll. “We just need to make sure we don’t go back to the hell we’ve gone through.”

Hospitalizations fell to 6,220 — a level last seen at the start of the pandemic, and a third of the peak number.

New cases fell to 2,419, from 2,762 reported the day before, the governor said.

Five regions in the state were allowed to reopen for business Friday, and Cuomo said he expects to see an increase in cases as more areas are phased in.

“You’re in control of what happens. How you act will determine what happens,” he said. “If people are smart, then yes, you will see an increase in the numbers, but you won’t see a spike.”

“Be smart, be diligent and don’t underestimate this virus,”  he added.

Nothing is certain with the coronavirus, said Cuomo, admitting his surprise when he learned that the majority of new cases were seen in people who left their homes to exercise, socialize or shop, rather than essential workers.

“That was exactly wrong,” he said. “The infection rate among essential workers is lower than the general population and those new cases are coming predominantly from people who are not working and they are at home.”

The state’s budget director, Robert Mujica, said officials expect to “learn a lot more” about how the virus travels from contact tracing over the next week.

Also Saturday, Suffolk and Westchester, were added to the list of those approved to begin elective surgeries and ambulatory care services.

“We want to make sure people who need medical services are getting medical services. There was a period when hospitals were dealing basically with COVID patients. We are past that period. If you need medical attention, if you need a medical procedure, you should get it,” Cuomo said.

“Hospitals are safe places to go to. The extent people are worried about going to hospitals, there is no reason,” he said, while still urging vigilance — and common sense.

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