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COVID-19 deaths reach low point in NY; houses of worship to reopen

Dan Clark
New York Now

The number of deaths related to COVID-19 in New York has reached another all-time low since the peak of the disease in April, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday, with only 35 new fatalities reported Friday, the latest data from the state.

Taking that decline into account, Cuomo said houses of worship will now be allowed to operate at 25% occupancy in regions that have entered the second phase of reopening their economy.

At its height in early April, COVID-19 was related to the deaths of more than 800 people in New York. The numbers reported Saturday reflect an accelerated decline in fatalities from the disease in recent weeks, despite several regions loosening social distancing restrictions.

"We didn't just flatten the curve,” Cuomo said. “We bent the curve."

The total number of deaths from COVID-19 in New York reached 24,212 Friday, but the rate of increase has significantly slowed in recent weeks as daily fatalities from the disease continued to decline.

The number of newly diagnosed cases have also dropped in recent weeks, particularly as a share of those tested on any given day.

On Friday, New York tested 77,895 people for the disease and only 1,108 new cases were diagnosed. That’s a far cry from mid-April, when the state was diagnosing several thousand new cases every day, but only testing about 20,000 individuals.

The number of people hospitalized with the disease also reached an all-time low Friday, with only 2,603 requiring treatment. Of those, 554 were intubated Friday.

Cuomo said that, because the state’s numbers have exceeded expectations in recent days, the state will accelerate reopening guidelines for houses of worship in regions of the state that have entered the second phase of reopening their economies.

Those regions include Western New York, the Capital Region, the Southern Tier, Central New York, the Finger Lakes, the North Country, and the Mohawk Valley. Long Island and the Mid-Hudson Region are expected to enter phase two next week.

If they decide to open for services, houses of worship will have to restrict the number of people inside to a quarter of the building’s occupancy, and maintain appropriate social distancing rules.