New York’s Leaders Elaborate on Plans to Reopen as Virus Death Toll Drops

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ImageVolunteers distribute dairy products in Morrisville, N.Y. on Friday.
Credit…Heather Ainsworth for The New York Times

The reopening of those businesses, with certain precautions left in place, would constitute a first phase of reopening, he said.

In a second phase, businesses would be reopened based on an assessment of how essential they were to the populace and how much risk was involved in reopening them.

The details about the reopening were the most specific that Mr. Cuomo has offered to date, and they came as the governor announced the lowest daily toll since March 31.

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New York State Could Open Some Businesses in May, Cuomo Says

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said the state would assess opening some construction and manufacturing businesses in regions with lower infection rates after May 15.

News today on the numbers is relatively good. The dissent continues. Overall hospitalization rate is down. The number of intubations is down. Even the number of new Covid cases is down. Still not good. Still 1,000 new Covid cases yesterday. To put it in focus, that would normally be terrible news. It’s only not terrible news compared to where we were. This is just terrible news, 367 deaths, which is horrific. And there is no relative context to death. Death is death. We talk about reopening. We talk about reimagining. Let’s start to put some meat on the bones of what we’re talking about so people understand. The federal guidance from the C.D.C. is that before you start reopening, the state and the regional hospitalization rate must be in decline for 14 days. OK? That’s the C.D.C.‘s guidance. So we’re monitoring the hospitalization rate. We’re monitoring the regional hospitalization rates. We’ve said in this state, it’s a very diverse state. Upstate regions are like states in the Midwest even out West. Phase 1 of reopening will involve construction — construction and manufacturing activities. And within construction and manufacturing, those businesses that have a low risk, right. There’s a range of construction activities. There’s a range of manufacturing activities. But those businesses that pose a low risk within them. Phase 2 would then be more a business by business analysis, using the matrix that we’ve discussed. How essential a service does that business provide? And how risky is that business? The pause is state wide until May 15, right. Then you have the C.D.C. guidance that says hospital, total hospitalization is declining for 14 days. The regions that would be more likely able to open sooner would be the upstate regions.

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said the state would assess opening some construction and manufacturing businesses in regions with lower infection rates after May 15.CreditCredit…Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images

The governors of New York and New Jersey announced sharp drops in each state’s reported death toll on Sunday.

Governor Cuomo said that 367 people in New York had been killed by the virus. The last time fewer than 375 deaths were reported in a single day in the state was March 31, when the single-day toll was 332.

In total, 16,966 people in New York have been killed by the virus.

The number of deaths reported Sunday was “horrific,” regardless of the overall drop, Mr. Cuomo said.

“There is no relative context to death,” he said. “Death is death.”

The governor said that 5,902 more people had tested positive for the virus and that 1,087 new coronavirus patients were hospitalized in New York on April 25. That represented a decrease of 685 patients from the previous day, bringing the hospitalization figure for the state to 12,839.

Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey said on Twitter that 75 more people had died in the state, a steep drop from the 249 deaths announced the previous day and the lowest single-day toll in New Jersey since April 5. The state has now lost 5,938 people to the virus.

Mr. Murphy said that 3,730 new cases of the virus were reported, for a total of 109,038 cases in the state.

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday announced that a number of different groups — advisory councils, task forces and a commission — would form to help imagine New York City’s future after the coronavirus outbreak.

“All sorts of basic questions have to be answered to determine, what’s our ideal but also practically, what can we get done at any given moment,” the mayor said.

Advisory councils, divided by industry and sector, will begin to meet in early May, he said. The councils will help shape rules to guide the economy as it attempts a slow reopening.

In addition, a city task force focused on racial inclusion and equity would be formed, he said, to address the racial disparities exacerbated by the virus. It will be set up by the mayor’s wife, Chirlane McCray and Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson.

A nearly $1 billion program created and overseen by Ms. McCray, ThriveNYC, has undergone multiple leadership changes and much scrutiny. Mr. de Blasio said that the program’s history had not been a concern in appointing his wife to the task force, and that Thrive had been focused on addressing health care inequalities.

“What Chirlane has done over these last six years is take this issue, put it in the light, open up access for millions of people and then continue to build out a structure that could focus on effective delivery,” Mr. de Blasio said. “That’s exactly the kind of mind set needed for this task force.”

Mr. de Blasio also announced the formation of a fair recovery task force, which would work to make the reopening as equitable as possible, he said. The group will be asked to deliver a preliminary road map for recovery by June 1.

Finally, the mayor said he would seek to form a charter revision commission, which will hold public hearings to reimagine New York City’s charter. Such commissions are formed on a temporary basis, and changes they suggest are proposed as amendments to voters.

The outbreak has devastated the city’s economy. More than $2 billion in municipal services was slashed from the budget and Mr. de Blasio has repeatedly asked the federal government to make up a $7.4 billion shortfall that has been projected.

On Sunday in an interview on Fox News, he repeated the figure: “We need $7.4 billion,” he said. “That’s how much we’ve lost, that’s how much we need to get back.”

Mr. Cuomo announced Sunday that construction on the L train tunnel, linking the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn to Manhattan, had been completed and that the line would fully reopen.

For much of last year, the plans to repair damages sustained in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy had been a source of tension between Mr. Cuomo and officials at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the city’s subway and buses.

Originally, the M.T.A. had planned to fully shut down the L line for 15 months to allow for repairs to be made in what would have been one of the biggest transportation disruptions in New York City’s history, upending the commutes of 250,000 daily riders.

But in January 2019, Mr. Cuomo surprised M.T.A. officials by introducing a plan using new technology from Europe to make the critical repairs without closing the tunnel entirely.

“The opposition to this new idea was an explosion,” Mr. Cuomo said at his briefing on Sunday. But now, he said, the train line repair was “ahead of schedule, it’s under budget and it was never really shut down.”

Under Mr. Cuomo’s plan, the L train continued to run during weekdays and on a reduced schedule over the weekend, with repairs being made overnight and on the weekend. The work, which was estimated to take as long as 20 months, was completed in 12 months.

The actor Alec Baldwin on Sunday called on Governor Cuomo to release vulnerable inmates from New York State prisons, including older inmates, pregnant women and those who were immunocompromised.

“As this pandemic spreads, public health and safety and basic moral decency demand that you use your authority to issue clemency to those most vulnerable in our state prisons,” Mr. Baldwin said in a video posted on Twitter by Scott Hechinger, a public defense lawyer with the Brooklyn Defender Services.

In New York, as of Tuesday, the coronavirus had killed six inmates and sickened hundreds.

Mr. Cuomo agreed in March to release as many as 1,100 people who were being held in jails in New York City and elsewhere in the state on minor parole violations.

More recently, he said the state would free older prisoners who were nearing their release dates, which Mr. Baldwin specifically called for.

Prisoner-rights advocates have asked the governor to go further.

Mr. Cuomo, asked Sunday about Mr. Baldwin’s comments, said that he not seen the actor’s message but that the state had taken the measures that Mr. Baldwin had called for already.

University Hospital of Brooklyn, in the heart of the city hit hardest by a world-altering pandemic, can seem like it is falling apart.

The roof leaks. The corroded pipes burst with alarming frequency. On one of the intensive care units, plastic tarps and duct tape serve as flimsy barriers separating patients. Nurses record vital signs with pen and paper, rather than computer systems.

A patient in Room 2 is losing blood pressure and needs an ultrasound. A therapist is working to calm a woman in Room 4 who is intubated and semiconscious and who tried to rip out her breathing tube when her arm restraints were unfastened.

University Hospital, which is publicly funded and part of SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, has tried to raise money for protective gear through a GoFundMe page started by a resident physician.

Most of the hospital’s patients are poor and people of color, and it gets more than 80 percent of its revenue from government programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Dr. Robert Foronjy, the hospital’s chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine, oversees the unit with the plastic tarps and duct tape. He said the “aged and crumbling” facilities had made the job of caring for patients much harder.

Reporting was contributed by Jonah Engel Bromwich, Nick Corasaniti, Melina Delkic, Christina Goldbaum, Azi Paybarah, Edgar Sandoval, Michael Schwirtz and Katie Van Syckle.

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