ALBANY — After another new single-day high in COVID-19 deaths, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday ordered flags to remain at half-staff across the sate until the pandemic crisis eases.
After another day with relatively few new hospitalizations with the virus, Cuomo cautioned that the pandemic is far from beaten, even as it seems to be easing up in New York.
“Don’t do a retrospective!” he cautioned during his daily briefing Wednesday, when a reporter pressed him about COVID-19 possibly having peaked far below worst-case projections.
The ban on nearly every type of social gathering appears to be showing results, but if people stop obeying it those gains will vanish, Cuomo predicted.
“We are not through it,” he said. “It’s not over.”
In response to another question, the governor said construction of temporary hospitals in the hard-hit New York City metropolitan area has halted.
New York state reached 149,316 cumulative confirmed tests by Wednesday morning, an increase of 10,453 in 24 hours. The death toll reached 6,268, an increase of 779.
But with a three-day average of 533 new hospitalizations, the lowest in two weeks, he said the state could be said to have flattened the curve, or reduced the rate of increase of severe infections.
Also Wednesday, Cuomo said:
- The University at Albany, the state Department of Health and Northwell Health — the largest health care provider in the state — will research data and increase testing in minority communities. Preliminary data show COVID-19 having a much more severe impact on minority and low-income communities. Blacks make up 29% of New York City residents and 34% of COVID deaths there; Latinos 22% of the population and 28% of deaths; whites 32% of the population and 27% of deaths; Asians 7% of deaths and 14% of the population. The statewide disparity for blacks, Latinos and whites is even wider outside New York City.
- Flags will be flown at half-staff in honor of the deceased for as long as New York on PAUSE remains in effect.
- The state Department of Labor will make $600 in additional weekly unemployment benefits available to New Yorkers and extend the coverage period 13 weeks to 39 weeks.
- A new executive order will allow all New Yorkers to vote by absentee ballot in the June 23rd primary elections.
- The state received a donation of 2,400 brand new BiPAP respiratory machines from Mercury Medical.
- Delta, JeBlue and United will fly health care workers to New York for free.
In other COVID-19 related developments Wednesday:
- As of Tuesday morning, Albany County had 342 confirmed cases, Fulton County 14, Montgomery County 18, Rensselaer County 75, Saratoga County 162, Schenectady County 149 and Schoharie County 12. Rensselaer County reported two more deaths and Albany County one.
- Albany Medical Center, the largest hospital in the Capital Region, said it had 66 COVID-19 patients admitted Wednesday. This is six more than Tuesday, despite five discharges. But most were transferred in from downstate hospitals — only one of the new arrivals is a Capital Region resident. Admissions from the region are slowing, suggesting that social distancing is working.
- Meanwhile, the number of Albany Med employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 has hit 67. A third have recovered and are back at work. Only four have needed hospitalization but all four have since gone home.
- Passenger traffic at Albany International Airport is down 95 percent, concessions in the terminal are closed, some parking lots are closed and the new garage has never been used. Spending cuts have been made but contingency plans in place will prevent a total shutdown of the airport.
- Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, which serves parts of the Capital Region, has laid off 135 of its 869 employees, furloughed 111 and reduced the hours of 35 amid the huge financial strain of the COVID-19 crisis. It has also launched telemedicine services to connect its patients to health care providers without the contagion risk of an in-person visit.
- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development made nearly $300 million in COVID-19 relief funding to communities across New York, including Albany ($3.13 million), Colonie ($210,000), Saratoga Springs ($182,000), Schenectady ($2.03 million) and Troy ($1.62 million).
- Management of Stuyvesant Plaza in Guilderland said it will purchase $10,000 worth of gift cards from its tenant restaurants that are still open with take-out and delivery service and donate the cards to emergency workers at St. Peter’s Hospital and Albany Medical Center.