ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday that New York is now able to move forward with some aspects of reopening faster than expected.
The governor said there were only 35 deaths due to coronavirus-related complications Friday, an all-time low. Hospitalizations are also at one of the lowest rates since the pandemic began.
Cuomo said one of the challenges of combating the coronavirus is the constantly changing information. He said it’s now believed the virus can linger in the air for up to three hours.
“That is a frightening fact,” Cuomo said.
The governor did say, however, the most recent numbers are a good sign.
“This is really, really good news. Compared to where we were, this is a big sigh of relief,” the governor said. “Our metrics today are all today very good. We’re going to open the valve more than we originally anticipated because the metrics are so good.”
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One change to the reopening plan is religious services can return to all places of worship in Phase 2, the governor said Saturday.
“We’re going to accelerate the opening of temples, mosques, churches. In Phase 2, they can open up to 25% occupancy of that building,” Cuomo said.
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That’s welcome news at St. John the Baptist Church in Chelsea, which is currently open for socially distanced prayer.
“That’s fantastic because our people keep on asking, when are we gonna have mass?” Father John Riordan told CBS2’s Dave Carlin.
Riordan said bringing back mass is not up to the governor, but the announcement from Albany will carry weight.
“The permission for that comes through the cardinal’s office,” he said.
Leaders of the New York Board of Rabbis told CBS2 it is a step forward but cautioned in each case, they must work out ways to ensure a safe and sacred space.
The governor also announced by executive order, office buildings and other work places can require temperature checks for anyone entering.
“It’s not gonna hurt. I think, I would feel more self-assured if they did that,” West Side resident Pete Fogel said.
“I don’t like it it’s probably a privacy thing but I just plain don’t like it,” Midtown resident Robert Brown said.
“‘I don’t want anyone to take my temperature.’ That’s going to be a problem because we’re giving commercial buildings the right to take the temperature of everyone who walks into a building,” Cuomo said. “It’s not just your health, it’s the people you could infect.”
The governor also announced that he was signing a bill to ban price gouging of PPE through the remainder of the COVID-19 crisis.