NYC protests

Protestors pose for photos in front of a garbage fire on Broadway and 9th Street in Manhattan on Sunday.

NEW YORK (TNS) — Protesters in cities across the country are right to express outrage, but they also must know what reforms they’re trying to advance, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.

“It’s not enough to come and say I’m angry, I’m frustrated,” Cuomo said during a press conference in New York City. “And you want what done? You need the answer.

“You want to make that moment work, yes, you express the outrage, but then you say, and here’s my agenda. Here’s what I want.”

The death last month of George Floyd in Minneapolis has sparked demonstrations across the country. Floyd died in police custody after an officer pressed a knee on his neck for several minutes. The officer involved, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with murder.

Cuomo said again today he shares protesters’ outrage and called video of Floyd’s final moments “horrendous” and “frightening.”

But protesters haven’t outlined their goals yet, Cuomo said. He suggested a reform plan of his own:

• Nationwide ban on excessive force and chokeholds.

• Independent investigations of police abuse.

• Disclosure of the disciplinary records of officers under investigation.

• Education equity, anti-poverty agenda and an affordable housing plan.

Cuomo spoke as multiple cities on Sunday faced another night of unrest and violence in some cases. New York City and communities in Upstate New York, including Syracuse, saw looting, property damage and intense police responses over the weekend.

Violence doesn’t help, Cuomo said.

“That’s not righteous indignation,” he said. “That’s criminality. And it plays into the hands of the people and the forces that don’t want to make the changes in the first place. Because then they get to dismiss the entire effort.

“They’re going to try to paint this whole protest movement that they’re all criminals, they’re all looters.”

The real protesters aren’t the ones causing the problems, Cuomo added. He said he believed people interested in disruption, chaos, anarchy or just plain theft are exploiting the demonstrations for their own purposes.

Cuomo also urged protesters to be smart about gathering in large groups amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The state can’t afford a setback in its progress agains the virus, he said.

He noted New York City is set to begin reopening next week. State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said he’s concerned about the potential for infection spikes caused by the protests.

“I think you can protest, but do it smartly and intelligently,” Cuomo said. “Protest. Just be smart about it.”

CORONAVIRUS UPDATECuomo said New York has made “phenomenal” progress in its fight against the coronavirus over the last three months.

“We’re doing better than we’ve ever done before,” he said during a press conference in New York City. “The question is where do we go from here.”

A total of 54 people in the state died due to the virus on Sunday, down slightly from 56 the day before. But the decline is much steeper when considering the peak of single-day deaths at 800 on April 14.

New deaths fell below 500 on April 22, below 400 on April 29, below 300 on May 3 and below 200 on May 10 for the first time in weeks. The last time there were more than 100 deaths in one day was May 23.

The statewide death toll is now at least 23,959. The total was less than 1,000 in late March.

The three-day average of new hospitalizations due to the coronavirus in New York stayed below 200 again on Sunday for the sixth day in a row.

The average peaked at more than 2,000 over multiple days in late March and early April. It was over 3,000 on several days.

Total hospitalizations due to the virus also fell on Sunday and the net change in intubations was negative, as it has been for weeks.

Cuomo noted that the state saw less than 1,000 positive test results on Sunday, even as it is now testing about 50,000 people a day. Earlier in the crisis, the state was doing just 3,000 to 4,000 tests a day, Cuomo said.

Sunday was the first day of less than 1,000 positive tests since early March, he added.

The state has been seeing low levels of new tests for several weeks, even as the total number of tests has increased.

New York now has 371,711 confirmed cases of the virus, including the 941 new cases from Sunday.