Cuomo issues warning for bars, restaurants

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Courtesy of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office

NEW YORK — The state may close bars and restaurants to prevent a surge of the coronavirus as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo traveled to Savannah, Ga., on Monday to meet with officials and help the Southern city fight against COVID-19.

Officials may reclose the state’s bars and restaurants, Gov. Cuomo said, after hundreds of New Yorkers crowded New York City streets in Astoria, Queens, and the Lower East Side in Manhattan over the weekend, concerning officials the activity would cause a COVID-19 resurgence in New York as the virus continues to spread in 40 states and Puerto Rico.

The State Liquor Authority has revoked food and liquor licenses at dozens of businesses for violating COVID-19 orders requiring New Yorkers to socially distance, remain six feet from others and wear face masks in public.

New York residents and businesses that do not comply with COVID-19 orders and break state law could ruin reopening privileges for others.

“Bars and restaurants are the problem,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I’m telling you, we are right on the line. Congregations, by definition, have to be increasing our viral spread. It’s math. It’s going to impact viral spread. ... We’ll have to roll back the opening plan and close bars and restaurants.”

The majority of New Yorkers seen congregating at outdoor bars and restaurants were young people in their 20s, Gov. Cuomo said. The governor reminded New Yorkers the virus impacts people of all ages, including children, and anyone could transfer the disease to another, high-risk person and kill them.

“Young people, as a general rule, believe they are superheroes,” the governor said. “It’s not just about you. It’s about who you could infect. It’s stupid what you’re doing — don’t be stupid.”

Gov. Cuomo continued his months-long plea Monday for local governments to enforce social distancing, face covering and other pandemic mandates — not just inform residents about the necessity.

“Local governments don’t want to enforce the law,” the governor said. “That is the only line between anarchy and civilization.”

Enforcing COVID-19 measures are not politically popular, but scaling back reopening is worse.

“That’s going to be more politically difficult than telling the NYPD to do their job,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The crowd has to be dispersed.”

Gov. Cuomo and members of the state’s COVID-19 task force departed from John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens just after 10 a.m. Monday to participate in a roundtable meeting with Savannah Mayor Van R. Johnson and the city’s health experts to discuss how to establish testing and contact-tracing operations and the best practices to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal government and President Donald J. Trump remain in denial about the coronavirus and COVID-19 spread, Gov. Cuomo said, who repeated the virus does not respond to politics.

“The solution is medicine and science,” the governor said. “Five months later, and this country is still unprepared to deal with this. It’s like we were on day 1 of COVID. It is so unnecessary that we are here.”

Eight New Yorkers died from the virus Sunday, including six in hospitals and two in nursing homes. The state’s virus-related fatalities have remained flat for several weeks, but is down from 13 on Saturday and 11 on Friday.

The state reported 519 new COVID-19 cases, or about 1.05 percent positive, of the 49,342 tests conducted Sunday. Each of the state’s 10 regions reported a low, consistent positive COVID-19 testing rate of 1.7 percent or lower.

“We have no trouble signs, no trouble spots,” the governor said of the state’s overall infection rate. “The progress is all very good.”

SUNY Empire State College President Jim Malatras said Monday a population must have an infection rate upwards of 60 percent or 70 percent to reach herd immunity, or when most of a population becomes immune to an infectious disease. About 20 percent of New York City’s population has been infected with COVID-19.

State and national health experts continue to question if, or how long, a person is immune to COVID-19 after exposure.

“There’s a question that exists, anyway, so we’re taking every step to keep the infection rate low,” Mr. Malatras said.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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