Cuomo bans indoor restaurant dining in NYC, weighs other restrictions upstate

GOVERNOR'S OFFICEGov. Andrew Cuomo delivers a COVID-19 update Friday in Albany.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers a COVID-19 update Friday in Albany.

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday ordered indoor dining halted at restaurants in New York City and said a determination will be forthcoming on further restrictions on restaurants in the rest of the state.

He acknowledged the impact it will have on an industry already among the hardest-hit through the COVID-19 pandemic, and he urged Congress to provide relief money to restaurateurs.

At the same press briefing, the governor said the second wave of the pandemic in New York state is being traced not to restaurants or schools or gyms or hair salons but to living rooms: 74 percent of the new infections with known origin are coming from household gatherings, compared with 1.4 percent from restaurants.

Elementary, middle and high schools almost invariably have a lower infection rate than the communities around them, Cuomo said.

“Gyms are now down to 0.06. Hair salons, barbershops, personal care 0.14. Again, small gatherings are the greatest individual issue and we believe this is going to continue to increase over the holidays,” he said.

Also Friday, Cuomo updated the metrics for determining the severity of micro-clusters, the geographic concentrations of COVID infections that are designated yellow, orange and red in order of least to most severe and result in restrictions on business operation and social gatherings.

The color codes have been applied with a multistep evaluation of population and positive test rate. They’ll now factor in positive test rate and hospital capacity.

The State Department of Health on Friday ordered that hospitals statewide add beds and/or curtail elective procedures to remain below 85 percent capacity. The statewide COVID patient census at New York hospitals has increased nearly every day of the last three months, from a low of 410 on Sept. 5 to 5,321 on Thursday.

Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort touched on the issue of hospital capacity in a Facebook Live briefing on Friday.

All New York hospitals are being stressed by COVID to some degree, he said, and Montgomery County is additionally stressed by having an older population that needs more medical care than average.

He’s concerned that if St. Mary’s Healthcare in Amsterdam becomes overwhelmed, local patients will have to travel elsewhere for care, perhaps a significant distance. (St. Mary’s said Thursday that the situation is worse now than in the spring, but the hospital is prepared to adapt to increase capacity if needed.)

“We are not in a bubble here,” Ossenfort said. “All of New York state is seeing this surge.”

In his Facebook briefing Friday, Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy offered a bit of good news: The number of county residents hospitalized dropped from a record 98 on Thursday to 80 on Friday morning.

In neighboring Schenectady County, the number of COVID patients admitted to Ellis Hospital jumped to 67 Friday after fluctuating in the low to mid 50s range through the week.

Also Friday:

  • Schoharie County residents tested positive at a single-day rate of 14%, third-highest in the state after two other largely rural counties, Chautauqua and Madison. On a seven-day average, which is a better metric than a one-day total, Schoharie County stands at 9.4% positive, second statewide only to Madison County at 10.1%.
  • The seven-day average for the other counties in and near the Capital Region was: Albany 6.2%, Fulton 8.3%, Montgomery 5.1%, Rensselaer 4.3%, Saratoga 5.4%, Schenectady 7.7%. In the broader picture, the seven-day average for the Capital Region was 5.5%, Mohawk Valley region 7.8% and New York state 5.1%.
  • Albany County reported three new COVID deaths: two men and a woman, all in their 90s.
  • Rensselaer County reported 91 positive tests, its highest yet for a single day, and 51 cases cleared for recovery, also a single-day record.
  • Saratoga County recorded its 27th COVID death.

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