Safety vital to reopen schools

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks at a pandemic briefing in June. Courtesy Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office

ALBANY — Another three states plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico were added to the tri-state quarantine list on Tuesday, bringing the total number of states to 34 as coronavirus cases continue to climb across the U.S.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Illinois, Kentucky and Minnesota were added to the travel order, which was first issued in June as New York, New Jersey and Connecticut emerged from the worst of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“On the situation across the nation, it is still very bad and there are more states that have exceeded our threshold for quarantine,” Cuomo said during a conference call with reporters.

The quarantine applies to any state with a positive coronavirus testing rate higher than 10 people per 100,000 residents or with an overall positive rate of 10% or higher, both based on seven-day rolling averages.

The governor admitted the system is far from perfect, but noted that most travelers would rather fill out the state’s mandatory health form when they arrive at New York airports rather than deal with a potential $2,000 fine.

It’s unclear how many violations or summonses have been issued by the state since the quarantine order went into effect in late June.

Cuomo also pitched an invite to Major League Baseball, saying he would welcome the league to play ball in the Empire State after several players tested positive in recent days.

The league began playing a truncated 60 game season last weekend.

“New York state has one of the lowest infection rates in the U.S.,” Cuomo said. “New York state has a full Department of Health protocol system in place. I offer to the MLB, if you are having problems playing in other states, come play here. We will set up a health protocol.”

The governor said seeing baseball played, even without fans in the stands, is good for the “nation’s soul.”

New York reported only 648 people hospitalized with the respiratory illness on Monday and the state conducted more than 67,000 tests, with a 0.93% infection rate, according to Cuomo. He said the state also hit the lowest number of intubations since March 15 at 81 people. Another nine people died of COVID-19 on Monday.

In addition to the threat from out of state, Cuomo again warned about a lack of enforcement and compliance with COVID-19 safety measures such as social distancing and mask-wearing.

State authorities inspected 644 establishments Monday night and issued 26 summonses to bars and restaurants that failed to comply with state guidelines or keep crowds from congregating outside.

A total of 17 eateries or pubs in Manhattan and nine in Queens were ticketed. Cuomo has repeatedly warned that places caught breaking the rules risk losing their liquor licenses.

Last week, the State Liquor Authority yanked 10 licenses from bars and pubs around the city for blatantly flouting coronavirus rules.

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