NEW YORK (TNS) — New York state will create its own department to help local governments enforce reopening rules for businesses, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.
The main responsibility for enforcing the rules remains with local governments, Cuomo said during a press conference in New York City. The state’s new department will supplement local efforts.
New York began reopening its economy in May after months of shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses have been allowed to return in phases as long as they follow certain guidelines meant to slow the spread of the virus.
That often includes limiting capacity. Cuomo said he has been distressed by images of large crowds gathering at some businesses, especially in New York City.
Cuomo said there have been problems with New Yorkers following reopening rules and with local governments enforcing them throughout the state. But the problems have been most serious in the city, he said.
“Citizen compliance is slipping,” he said. “That is a fact.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced earlier on Wednesday that the city would delay the planned return of indoor dining at restaurants over concerns of potential spikes in cases.
Cuomo said people must follow the rules and the city must do better on enforcement before indoor dining there can proceed. He also said he was concerned about people from other states with higher rates of infection traveling to the city and spreading the virus.
Unless people do a better job following reopening rules, the virus will return in New York in force, Cuomo said. Communities across the state must take enforcement seriously, he added.
“That is their main job,” he said. “They must do it.”
CUOMO SLAMS TRUMP
President Donald Trump is denying the reality of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the country is suffering as a result, Cuomo said.
Cuomo noted numerous states are now seeing surges in infections.
“He has lived in denial and he has been denying the scientific facts from day one,” the governor said. “Everybody knows you were wrong. At least have the courage to admit what everybody else already knows.”
Cuomo again called on Trump to start wearing a mask and said the president needs to mobilize the country to confront the threat of the virus.
The situation is New York remains good, Cuomo said. There are no warning signs anywhere at the moment.
But given the spikes in other states, Cuomo said he’s still worried. He called again for New Yorkers to follow reopening rules and said local governments must enforce them.
Rising infections elsewhere and a lack of compliance with the rules both contributed to the delay in the return of indoor dining in New York City, Cuomo said.
Hospitalizations due to the virus in New York fell 12 on Tuesday to 879. Hospitalizations have been under 900 for the last four days in a row, down from a peak of more than 18,000 over multiple days in April.
Another 11 people died due to the virus in the state on Tuesday, down two from the day before. New deaths peaked at 800 on April 14.
The state performed 56,710 tests for the virus on Tuesday and 625 came back positive. That’s a positive testing rate of 1.1%, which is consistent with recent days.
New York now has 394,079 confirmed cases of the virus and the statewide death toll is 24,866.