ALBANY – New York State’s COVID-19 infection rate continues its downward trend and the economy’s phased reopening will soon include New York City, which was hardest hit by the virus.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his daily press briefing, said the number of new cases of the virus is at an all-time low.
“Congratulations to the people of New York,” he said Tuesday. “Look at what you did.”
Western New York moved to phase two Tuesday, and the Capital District moves to phase two Wednesday. New York City is, according to the governor, on track to enter phase one on June 8.
Delaware County has had several days of no new cases reported, and the number of residents hospitalized with the virus is down to two. Sixteen people are still in mandatory quarantine.
Meanwhile, the public demonstrations in New York and the rest of the country continued after the May 25 death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis during an arrest on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill.
“This nation is more divided than at any time in my lifetime,” Cuomo said. “And there are a number of issues here – we can’t blur the lines between them.”
He said the president’s remarks Monday night lumped peaceful protesters in with criminal looters.
“They’re not the same,” Cuomo said. “But that’s political spin. It’s because you don’t want to address the murder of Mr. Floyd.”
Cuomo said that the looting in New York City Monday night, despite the imposition of a curfew, was “totally unacceptable” and he blamed both the New York City police and Mayor Bill DeBlasio who, he said, “didn’t do their job last night.”
But he rejected the president’s call to send in the National Guard. The president, he said, was saying there should be a militarization of the police.
“For the first time in over a century, you’ve used the American military against the American people,” he said, referring to troops which gassed and fired rubber bullets at protesters to clear a path for the president to walk to a press conference off the White House grounds Monday night.
“I have offered the National Guard to every city,” he said, “and the mayor said he doesn’t think it would be productive.”
He pointed out that sending the Guard in without the mayor’s cooperation would require actually removing the mayor from office, something he said his office is empowered to do, but something he said has “no precedent that I can find” and would create even more chaos in a situation that is already chaotic.
“I ask the protesters to be calm, be peaceful. And I want the police to do their jobs; protect the property and the people of New York City.”
He reminded protesters that the virus is not gone, and public gatherings could spark a new spike in cases.
“Protest, express your outrage, but be responsible.”
He also addressed legislators.
“Address righteous outrage with a real reform agenda. And do it now. This can be a moment of great change.”