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COVID-19 cases continue to fall statewide, governor says

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, shown Friday giving an

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, shown Friday giving an update on the coronavirus pandemic, said Sunday that less than 1% of new tests have come back positive.   Credit: Office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo

This story was reported by Lisa L. Colangelo, Matthew Chayes, Rachelle Blidner and The Associated Press. It was written by Colangelo.

With New York City poised to enter Phase 2 of reopening Monday, the number of COVID-19 cases statewide continued to decline, with less than 1% of new tests coming back positive, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Sunday.

Cuomo said 1,142 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Saturday. That’s a dramatic difference from the height of the pandemic in April, when more than 18,000 people were hospitalized in the state.

But officials have repeatedly cautioned New Yorkers to continue wearing masks and practice social distancing to prevent a surge in cases that has been seen in states across the West and South. Officials said there were over 3,100 new infections in Arizona this weekend and Nevada reported a new high of 445 cases Saturday.

Also on Sunday, the World Health Organization reported the largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases — more than 183,000 new cases in the latest 24 hours. The United States had over 36,000 new cases, second only to Brazil with over 54,000 cases.

Cuomo, no longer holding daily press briefings, released a statement Sunday morning with the latest New York statistics.

"The COVID-19 pandemic isn't over, and as we reopen New York safely and incrementally, the state government will continue to provide timely information so that New Yorkers can make educated decisions for themselves and their families," he said.

There have been 209,313 confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York City, as of Sunday, with an estimated 22,268 deaths, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Long Island remains on track to enter Phase 3 on Wednesday, with about 1% of Nassau and Suffolk residents testing positive for the virus Saturday. Limited indoor dining at restaurants is allowed during Phase 3 along with reopening of spas, nail salons and tattoo parlors.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said for the first time since March 22, fewer than 100 people in the county were hospitalized with COVID-19.

“That is a real milestone for us,” he said during his daily briefing.

He noted this good news is coming on the first official day of summer, when the COVID-19 lockdown happened right before the official start of spring.

“The entire season we have gone up this mountain, seen this surge occur and come down on the other side,” Bellone said. “As we begin summer now, we are in a far different place than we were.”

Bellone said 64 people tested positive for the virus on Saturday, a slight increase from previous days.

“We have been tracking lower than that, hovering in the 40s,” he said. “It’s a little bit of an uptick but not a big deal in any way.”

Officials in Nassau and Suffolk counties have been monitoring complaints about people and businesses not wearing masks and following social distancing guidelines.

As of Saturday, since the beginning of the pandemic Nassau had received more than 3,400 coronavirus-related complaints, and of the 2,665 that the fire marshal has handled, 825 led to warnings. There were about 25 appearance tickets written for coronavirus-related violations, which can lead to maximum penalties of $10,000, according to Michael Uttaro, assistant chief fire marshal.

New York City reopening is more complicated than Long Island and the rest of the state due to density and the number of infections. Mass transit, including subways, buses and the Long Island Rail Road, continues with restrictions.

Phase 2 permits the reopening of offices, in-store retail, outdoor dining, beauty parlors and barber shops, motor vehicle transactions and commercial building management, as well as retail rental, repair and cleaning.

Between 100,000 and 300,000 workers are returning to their jobs — 200,000 returned two weeks ago — according to an estimate by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

With Matthew Chayes, Rachelle Blidner and The Associated Press