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New York surpasses 400,000 COVID-19 cases statewide, Cuomo says

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks during a COVID-19

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks during a COVID-19 briefing on Monday in Manhattan. Credit: Getty Images / David Dee Delgado

New York State has surpassed 400,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday, the fifth-highest total worldwide if New York were a country.

The state added 786 new confirmed cases during testing on Thursday, for a total of 400,299.

The only countries with higher totals are the United States as a whole, with 3.1 million, followed by Brazil, India and Russia, according to Johns Hopkins University, which tracks cases worldwide.

The number puts New York above such countries as Peru, Chile and the United Kingdom, along with the early coronavirus hot spots of China, Italy and Spain.

Despite that, Cuomo said New York was making progress in its fight to control the virus, though he warned that surging numbers of cases in states around the country and noncompliance with mitigation directives here could imperil New York’s advances.

The percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 on Thursday was 1.06%, according to state data.

"New York's COVID-19 numbers are stable and continue to trend in the right direction, but amid an alarming spike in cases throughout the nation and reports of lack of compliance here at home, it's vitally important that residents continue practicing the behaviors that have successfully bent the curve," Cuomo said.

"We know that wearing a mask, washing your hands and social distancing are effective tools for fighting this virus — and now is the time to redouble those efforts," Cuomo said. "Continue to be New York Tough this weekend and show this nation the path forward while keeping your loved ones safe!"

New York State will allow concessions to open starting Sunday at state ocean and lakefront beaches, Cuomo said.

The locations include Jones Beach, Robert Moses, Sunken Meadow and Lake Welch in Harriman State Park.

“We made this decision based on facts and science, and in recognition that these concessions are largely outdoors and are similar to other businesses we have allowed to open with precautions as part of NY Forward,” Cuomo said. 

He also said New York would send the COVID-19 medication remdesivir to Florida as that state struggles to contain a surge of cases of the virus.

Florida is waiting for a supply of the drug from the federal government, and the New York shipment will help care for 280 patients in the meantime. It is expected to arrive Saturday.

"When New York was climbing the COVID mountain with no end in sight and resources were scarce, we were incredibly moved by the generosity of states around the country that stepped up to provide supplies and medical personnel in our time of need," Cuomo said.

“I said at the time that we would return the favor if and when other states needed help. … We will stand by our fellow Americans every step of the way as our nation fights COVID-19 together."

Cuomo has noted that New York has gone from being a global hot spot for COVID-19 to having some of the lowest infection levels in the country — “from worst to first,” he has said.

Long Island registered a 1% level of people testing positive for the virus on Thursday, while the level in New York City was 1.1%.

The number of new coronavirus cases confirmed in testing Thursday was 68 in Nassau County, 62 in Suffolk County and 351 in New York City.

The daily death toll on Thursday in New York State was eight. The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized was 826 — far below the peak of nearly 19,000 in April.

The virus has killed 24,968 people in New York State, by official count.

Roosevelt Field mall reopens

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran visited the newly reopened Roosevelt Field mall in Garden City on Friday morning, underscoring the region’s progress in recovering from the pandemic.

"I took a nice deep breath of that mall air — that mall smell — it feels really good to be here," Curran said at her daily briefing, held at the massive mall, which reopened for business Friday after months of closure.

"The malls reopening is such a huge deal for us. They generate a lot of money in property taxes,” she said. “This is a huge economic anchor for us, it’s a revenue generator and we have fallen off a fiscal cliff. The economy just stopped suddenly and went into free fall. We are coming back in phases and the malls reopening shows it.”

Roosevelt Field employs more than 4,000 people, Curran said.

The mall, owned by national chain Simon Property Group, provides $88 million in sales tax revenue for Nassau County, she said. Sales tax revenue is about 40% of all county revenue, which has declined due to the pandemic-related state shutdown.

Curran for weeks advocated for the reopening of malls in Phase 2, along with other in-person retail, but got clearance only Wednesday from Cuomo to allow them to reopen in Phase 4 with mandated air filters meant to help curb spread of the virus.

Long Island entered Phase 4, the final stage, on Wednesday, though some businesses and institutions such as bars, gyms and schools are still on hold.

Roosevelt Field will be held to 50% capacity. Shoppers and employees must wear masks. Common areas will be closed, including the indoor food court. Stepped-up cleaning protocols are in place for “high touch” areas, Curran said.

With “common sense,” county residents are proving the economy can reopen while decreasing the rate of infection, Curran said.

“We can be a national model," she said.

Curran said there was “a huge reason for optimism” about safely conducting in-person business and for an economic recovery as infection rates on Long Island continue to drop during Phase 4 of the reopening.

But the financial toll has been devastating, she said, and county and state officials are closely monitoring the rising infection rates in other states.

Curran encouraged residents to take a “staycation” on Long Island, saying she hopes they avoid traveling to high-risk states and then have to self-quarantine upon returning.

Northwell Health on Friday hit its own milestone: The state's largest health care system said it was down to 100 COVID-19 patients. That is compared to a high of 3,400 on April 7.

With David Reich-Hale