As new COVID variants spread, concerned New York officials call for a break on reopening

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As new COVID variants spread, concerned New York officials call for a break on reopening


Two city officials are calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to suspend further reopening of the state because they fear an increase in coronavirus cases due to the variants.

Public attorney Jumaane Williams and board member Mark Levine held a virtual press conference on Wednesday to question the state’s decision to reopen sports arenas and arts and entertainment venues at limited capacity in the beginning of next month.

Starting April 1, Mets and Yankees games can take place in their respective fields, attracting thousands of spectators who will have to prove vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result. A day later, the arts and entertainment venues can reopen at 33% capacity, for a maximum of 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors. These restrictions amount to 150 and 500 respectively, with proof of vaccination or a negative entry test. An 11 p.m. curfew for casinos, bowling alleys and cinemas will be lifted on April 5.

Williams called the plans “anything but prudent” and urged the state to stop and relax further restrictions.

“We cannot rush or we will back down,” he said. “What you see here are the same voices as barely a year ago [who] pleaded with our leaders – and in particular the governor – to shut down and shut down quickly. And, unfortunately, these calls have fallen on deaf ears.

Williams was referring to the days of back-and-forth between Mayor Bill de Blasio and Cuomo over whether to issue housekeeping orders in March 2020, all as San Francisco closed before New York. . A year since then, nearly 50,000 New York state residents have died from COVID-19.

Dr. Celine Gounder, a former adviser to President Joe Biden and the New York University epidemiologist who joined the press conference, criticized the expansion of indoor dining and the resumption of events like the weddings and other high-risk activities. As coronavirus variants lead to infections and second lockdown cycles in parts of Europe like France and Italy, she called for slower reopenings on this side of the Atlantic.

Read more: Former Biden COVID-19 adviser questions Governor Cuomo’s decision to ease restrictions

“We have, in general, in the United States, a trend of about three to four weeks behind the Europeans in terms of resurgence,” said Gounder. Gounder has been beating the drum by reopening too early for weeks as the country continues its vaccination campaign. “It’s like taking your foot off the brake before you park the car.”

New COVID-19 cases over a seven-day average have been between around 3,600 and 4,000 since the start of March in the city – a plateau admittedly but one that represents a drop from early January when nearly 6,400 new cases have been reported, by city Positivity levels have fluctuated between 6% and 10% since the start of January, although this percentage is not the only factor to watch out for as it is influenced by the number of people who get tested. The transmission rate – or Rt – remains around one in all boroughs except the Bronx, meaning the coronavirus is spreading but more slowly. The Rt is less than one in the Bronx, showing cases are on the decline.

“Just give us a little more time, get more people vaccinated, and within a month or two I think we’ll be in a place where we can really relax and safely relax,” Gounder said. Levine added that it appears people have become “unresponsive” to the number of cases.

“This is an extraordinary public health crisis,” he said. “We cannot ignore it. ”

Governor Cuomo’s office and the state’s Health Department did not immediately comment on calls from elected officials to suspend the reopening.

Mayor Bill de Blasio reiterated in his daily briefing on Wednesday that city officials are very concerned about the resumption of indoor fitness classes, which he called “the embodiment of what not to do. to do”. He also doesn’t want the restoration capacity inside to exceed 50%.

“If we believe that a decision that was taken previously is no longer sustainable due to the healthcare environment, we will talk about that as well,” added de Blasio.

The mayor said the state should defer to city leaders on these decisions, but for now city officials will focus on educating the public on how to reduce the risk of COVID-19 , according to the mayor. New York Health Commissioner Dr Dave Chokshi reaffirmed that New Yorkers can avoid getting sick by avoiding indoor environments, staying in small groups, and engaging in activities that they can relate to. properly a mask.

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