This story was reported by Matthew Chayes, Bart Jones and David Reich-Hale. It was written by Jones.
Long Island registered lower daily levels of new coronavirus cases from tests performed on Tuesday, despite concerns over an upward blip in Suffolk County that prompted stern reminders about social distancing and mask wearing rules.
Noting an increase in the daily percent of new positives in Suffolk, state and county officials had pointed to instances of COVID-19 spread at a Fourth of July celebration and among lifeguards who had gathered outside their duty hours.
The latest state figures, issued Wednesday morning, showed 1% of people tested on Long Island came back positive, compared to 2% for the previous day of testing. New York City remained at about the same level of new infections, going from 1.4% positives on Monday to 1.3% of those tested on Tuesday.
However, the statewide figures did show slight daily increases in newly admitted patients and overall hospitalizations across the state: 831 people were being treated for ailments related to COVID-19, a net increase of 11 people, with 94 new patients on Tuesday.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said she was glad to see Long Island's level of new cases drop back down.
"After a slight increase in positive cases on Tuesday, we are glad to see our transmission rate falling back to 1% or below," Curran said in a statement. "But after seeing that slight uptick, we are reminded this fight against COVID-19 is not over. We need to continue to follow the common-sense guidance, like wearing masks and practicing social distancing."
She said Nassau tested 4,295 yesterday and received 39 positive results, putting the level of residents testing positive just below 1%.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo reminded New York residents that they need to remain vigilant to prevent a resurgence of the virus, as has happened in other states.
"New Yorkers brought the curve down by making big changes, and we see that work reflected in the numbers every day," Cuomo said in a statement. "But we must continue to be smart — by wearing a mask, social distancing and washing our hands, we all have a role to play in protecting the progress we've made and leading the rest of the nation by example. We cannot go back to the hell we experienced three months ago, so please stay vigilant and New York Tough."
According to the new state figures, Nassau County has had a total 42,462 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic. Suffolk County had 53 new positives for a total 42,267 confirmed cases. In New York City, 366 people tested positive on Tuesday for a total 219,982 confirmed cases.
The state said nine people died across New York of coronavirus-related causes. The statewide number of new cases on Tuesday was 831, for a daily infection level of 1.3%, the new figures show. The state has registered 404,006 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic.
Northwell Health said Wednesday it had 118 COVID-19 patients at the 19 hospitals it owns and operates in the state. It's the fourth straight day that Northwell has reported a slight increase in coronavirus patients, but the health system stressed that the increases had more to do with a drop in discharges.
Meanwhile, Arizona, Texas and Florida together reported about 25,000 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday as new restrictions aimed at combating the spread of the pandemic took hold in the United States and around the world.
The face-covering requirements, lockdowns, health checks and quarantine lists underscore the reality that the number of infections is continuing to tick upward in parts of the world, and make clear that a return to normalcy may be further off than many leaders had envisioned just weeks ago.
New York City nearing Phase 4
How and when to reopen more of New York City during the pandemic — Phase 4 of the New York State’s reopening plan — is being considered by the state and city, with an update as soon as Thursday if not Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
“Phase 4 is being deliberated right now between the city and the state," de Blasio said. "This one is a little more complicated for several reasons.”
He said parts of Phase 4 have already been decided such as certain sports teams playing without fans and certain colleges and universities opting against an in-person return to classes.
“A number of pieces have already been determined,” he said, “but at the same time there’s still a substantial amount of activity that needs to be adjudicated … We’re looking at this national reality of the uptick and looking at it very soberly: how many states are going through a horrible uptick right now.”
Phase 4 could come as soon as Monday, de Blasio said. The fourth and final phase of the state's planned reopening from the coronavirus shutdown includes the return of kindergarten-to-12 schools and colleges, outdoors arts and entertainment, malls and professional sports, but not all elements have to be approved at the same time. The city, for instance, entered the previous phase without a return of indoor dining for its restaurants, as had been outlined in that phase's guidelines.
“We may say for Phase 4 some things are going to float while we figure out what makes sense, but it’s going to be specific to each of the pieces.”
He added: “I’m not going to be shocked if we have a kind of split situation."
NY sending help to Atlanta
Cuomo announced that New York is sending personal protective gear and testing kits to Atlanta as that city struggles with a surge of coronavirus cases.
Cuomo, who spoke with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Monday through video during his press briefing, said the equipment will include 7,500 test kits, 7,500 masks, 7,500 gowns, 7,500 gloves, 7,500 face shields, and 1,250 gallons of hand sanitizer.
The supplies will be delivered by Friday, he said.
"During New York's greatest hour of need, other states sent volunteers, masks and equipment to help us flatten the curve and save lives,” Cuomo said, noting that New York now wants to pay back some of the help.
Cuomo also announced that the Special Enrollment Period for uninsured New Yorkers will be extended for another 30 days, through Aug. 15, to assist them amid the pandemic. New Yorkers can apply for coverage through NY State of Health, New York State's health insurance marketplace, or directly through insurers.
"While we're continuing to move in the right direction," Cuomo said, "we know we're not out of the woods yet and by extending the open enrollment period we're making sure New Yorkers who need affordable health care coverage can get it and help keep themselves and their families safe."