COVID spike around U.S. puts hol­i­day cheer, city’s plan to re­open bars in jeop­ardy


Sun Belt state res­i­dents could put the ki­bosh on New York’s re­open­ing plans.

With coro­n­avirus cases surg­ing in states such as Texas, Florida and Ari­zona that rushed to re­open their economies — and as some New York­ers con­tinue to dis­re­gard so­cial dis­tanc­ing and mask wear­ing — Gov. Cuomo is con­sid­er­ing tap­ping the brakes on the re­sump­tion of in­door din­ing and po­ten­tially slow­ing the city’s re­open­ing amid “trou­bling signs” that could lead to a COVID-19 resur­gence in the city.

Cuomo said Mon­day his con­cerns are twofold: Big Ap­ple res­i­dents flout­ing rules meant to keep the in­fec­tion from spread­ing and the threat of trav­el­ers from hotspot states bring­ing the virus to the Em­pire State af­ter the sac­ri­fices its res­i­dents and busi­nesses made over the past three months to stem the tide of the deadly pan­demic.

“I would not want to roll back any­thing we’ve done. I want to con­tinue to move for­ward, but we may move for­ward with cau­tion,” Cuomo said in an in­ter­view with NY1. “We have com­pli­ca­tions that we are study­ing now . ... Malls and in­door din­ing are things that I’m con­cerned about, and we may con­sider slow­ing them down for next week.”

The city is sched­uled to en­ter Phase 3 of the state’s re­open­ing plan next week, which is slated to al­low lim­ited in­door din­ing and let busi­nesses like nail sa­lons and tat­too par­lors wel­come back cus­tomers, “but there are is­sues that we have to think through,” the gover­nor said.

“We’re see­ing con­tin­ued large gath­er­ings,” Cuomo said. “We’re see­ing large so­cial gath­er­ings on side­walks, et cetera, which is not help­ful.”

COVID-19 cases are surg­ing in states across the coun­try that rushed to re­open in ad­di­tion to Texas, Florida and Ari­zona, and there is a good pos­si­bil­ity that more states will be added to the quar­an­tine list that New York, New Jersey and Con­necti­cut un­veiled last week.

Texas Gov. Greg Ab­bott last week re­versed course as coro­n­avirus cases spiked, or­der­ing the shut­ting of bars and re­duc­ing restau­rant ca­pac­ity to 50%. In Cal­i­for­nia, Gov. Gavin New­som closed bars in sev­eral coun­ties and said Mon­day the state will slow its re­open­ing plans.

The travel ad­vi­sory re­quires vis­i­tors from COVID-19 hotspots to self­quar­an­tine for at least 14 days upon ar­rival in the tris­tate re­gion.

As of Mon­day, nine states were on the list, but Cuomo noted in­fec­tions are in­creas­ing in at least 34 states.

He tied the resur­gences to Pres­i­dent Trump’s push for states to rapidly re­open their economies.

“The White House has been in de­nial on coro­n­avirus from the get-go,” he said. “This has been get­ting worse. It’s not get­ting bet­ter.”

Just seven peo­ple in New York State died of the virus in the 24 hours end­ing Sun­day night, a far cry from the 800-plus daily toll dur­ing the dark­est days of early April. About 850 peo­ple are hos­pi­tal­ized statewide and less than 1% are test­ing pos­i­tive for COVID-19.

Cuomo, who showed a pen­chant for craft projects with a mask mo­saic a few months ago, also un­veiled a mas­sive foam moun­tain at a press brief­ing in Man­hat­tan — bring­ing one of his most used coro­n­avirus metaphors to life.

“We paid the price and we dealt with that spike and we climbed right up the moun­tain,” Cuomo said as he proudly dis­played the Sty­ro­foam sum­mit. “We got smart. New York­ers stepped up. We wore masks. We so­cially dis­tanced. We closed down. And we stopped the curve. We plateaued.”

Many on so­cial me­dia likened the sculp­ture to a mid­dle school science pro­ject or noted sim­i­lar­i­ties to the homemade peak crafted in the sci-fi flick “Close En­coun­ters of the Third Kind.”

The gover­nor, mean­while, said the state’s pos­i­tive tra­jec­tory means that the MTV Video Mu­sic Awards will be held on Aug. 30 at Brook­lyn’s Bar­clays Cen­ter. Only a “lim­ited au­di­ence” will be al­lowed, Cuomo said, adding that the state will un­veil more spe­cific guide­lines later this sum­mer.

But he also ex­pressed gen­eral con­cerns about new ev­i­dence that air con­di­tion­ing and ven­ti­la­tion sys­tems may be a big­ger fac­tor in spread­ing the virus than was pre­vi­ously known.

“Malls and in­door din­ing are things that I’m con­cerned about, and we may con­sider slow­ing them down for next week,” Cuomo said. “Not go­ing back­ward, but we may ac­tu­ally slow them down.”

Cuomo also an­nounced that he’s launch­ing a State Po­lice task force on Mon­day to crack down on il­le­gal fire­works in the city, com­plain­ing that the five bor­oughs have been sound­ing “like the Wild West” as of late.

As coro­n­avirus cases con­tinue to rav­age the coun­try, states that rushed to open are shut­ting the taps, like in Texas (inset), as Lone Star State hit new high for COVID hos­pi­tal­iza­tions.

Gov. Cuomo (top left) touts state’s suc­cess Mon­day in climb­ing, and de­scend­ing, COVID “moun­tain,” but said that large gath­er­ings out­doors on city’s streets are giv­ing him pause about wis­dom of mov­ing onto in­door din­ing.

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