What to Know
- New Jersey hospitalizations have tripled in seven weeks and new restrictions are imminent
- New York and Connecticut have seen their key indicators rise considerably; the latter reimposed some capacity caps as of Friday, and its governor said Thanksgiving celebrations should be 10 or less
- Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday he would increase National Guard presence at NY airports ahead of the holidays to enforce the new entry test requirement as U.S. cases continue to surge unabated
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday he’d increase National Guard presence at New York airports to enforce new COVID entry test requirements ahead of the holiday season, as he tries to fight back the state’s biggest viral increases in months.
Acknowledging the aggressiveness of the measure, Cuomo said, “I want people to know we’re serious.” He also said he had spoken with Mayor Bill de Blasio about enhancing NYPD presence to assist with the same.
Cuomo announced a sweeping new entry test policy a week ago, abandoning the previous quarantine list, as the country’s surge continues unabated.
It requires travelers to provide a negative COVID test before traveling to New York and to take another one four days after they arrive. If that second test is negative, they need not quarantine for 14 days. New Yorkers returning from travel under 24 hours outside the state don’t need to take a test before returning but must do so after they re-enter. In his initial announcement on the test policy, Cuomo had said failure to comply comes with mandatory 14-day quarantine. It wasn’t immediately clear Friday if quarantine in lieu of a negative test remained an option.
Cuomo said airlines and the Port Authority are both assisting on the entry test front; the airlines are disseminating the information and the Port Authority is aware that travelers should provide evidence of the test upon landing. He also said officials can check with passengers’ departure states to verify test results.
The quarantine list became unmanageable since most states in the U.S were on it and what Governor Cuomo did to change the travel rules, Adam Harding reports.
The enhanced enforcement measures come as Cuomo and de Blasio grow increasingly concerned with state and citywide numbers over the last month.
“We are obviously in a different phase with COVID,” Cuomo said on a Friday telebriefing with reporters. “We’ve been talking about it for weeks but we have to acknowledge it. The numbers are changing all across the globe, all across the country. The challenge for our state is managing the increase.”
Daily Percentage of Positive Tests by New York Region
Gov. Andrew Cuomo breaks the state into 10 regions for testing purposes and tracks positivity rates to identify potential hotspots. Here’s the latest tracking data by region and for the five boroughs. For the latest county-level results statewide, click here
Nearly 3,000 new COVID cases were reported in New York Thursday, the highest daily case number in months. New York City reported more than 700 new cases of COVID Friday, well above the mayor’s 550-case threshold. That is the highest number in months; it comes after three consecutive days above 600, which also marked the first time in months it had gone that high. Each day, it ticks higher.
The rolling seven-day positivity rate, which de Blasio has called the “most objective measure” of the city’s standing on the coronavirus front, hit 1.93 percent Friday — again, the highest number in months and up from 1.81 percent Thursday. The mayor had said indoor dining could be shuttered across the five boroughs if that metric hits 2 percent, though that would be the governor’s call.
“We are now really threatened with a second wave in New York City,” de Blasio said during his weekly radio segment on WNYC Friday.
A day earlier, he highlighted two new ZIP codes in Staten Island that he said were areas of concern. De Blasio said the city planned targeted and robust new outreach; he hopes a quick response would avoid the need for cluster restrictions.
The micro-cluster approach has proven an effective containment tool, Cuomo has said. On Friday, he said Queens’ Far Rockaway cluster, which was recently moved to a yellow zone, will no longer be considered a cluster zone, effective immediately. He said he’d downsize the Brooklyn red and yellow zones by 50 percent as well Port Chester, in Westchester County, will be turned to a yellow zone, which mandates weekly randomized school testing of staff and students. Rockland and Orange counties will also see cluster restrictions ease.
Upstate New York is becoming an area of increasing concern; Cuomo said Friday at this point, the Buffalo Bills’ stadium cannot open to fans. The governor said he would study the most problematic counties — Erie, Monroe and Onondaga — over the weekend to develop a micro-cluster strategy for that area.
Despite the overall cluster progress, core COVID metrics are rising across the state, mirroring the trend seen in virtually every U.S. state. No state has been untouched by the latest surge, which has seen the nation smash its single-day case records at least a half-dozen times in the last week and a half. That most recently happened on Thursday, when the nation topped 120,000 new cases, eclipsing its previous record, set just the day before, by more than 15,000.
Coronavirus cases spiked above 100,000 for the second day in a row on Thursday with no signs of a reversal. Dr. Gregory Demuri is a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of Wisconsin. He joins LX News to explain why severe measures may have to be taken to get the “out of control” virus reined in.
The after-effects of the case increases are starting to become more apparent. Statewide, COVID hospitalizations are in the midst of a two-week stretch above 1,000 for the first time since breaking that streak in June. Thursday’s hospitalizations were the highest since mid-June (1,277). The daily death toll topped 20 (24) for the first time in months Thursday, and while that’s mercifully below the 800 New Yorkers who were dying a day in April, it’s a disturbing sign.
Deaths lag increases in hospitalizations, which lag increases in cases. All are on the rise. Cuomo has said weddings, birthdays and other private gatherings have fueled the spread, on top of universities and schools opening their doors. He has also pointed to public weariness of mask mandates and social distancing rules.
New COVID Restrictions Imminent in NJ; CT Rolls Back Some Reopenings
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday he was “close” to implementing new restrictions in the Garden State, which has seen COVID hospitalizations triple in the last seven weeks and daily case totals soar to early May highs.
“How close are we to doing something?” Murphy said when asked that very question during his Q&A. “Close, so bear with us. We will clearly be taking action.”
Murphy didn’t elaborate on what any potential new rules might look like at the time, noting he had widespread discretion. He said his administration was reviewing multiple options — a position necessitated by a soaring statewide positivity rate that he blasted as “unacceptable.”
New Jersey reported a third consecutive day of more than 2,000 cases Friday, the first time that’s happened since April. The state has tallied about 8,500 new cases since his report on Monday.
In his Thursday briefing, he said Bergen, Essex and Passaic counties each reported more than 200 new cases overnight while another trio of counties each had at least 100. Absent new statewide restrictions, a number of cities in high-increase counties, including Hoboken, Newark and Paterson, have reimposed rules locally in recent weeks. Murphy has sent hotspot teams for support.
The City of Hoboken passed a party find ordinance in an attempt to halt the spread of coronavirus as the state finds itself in the grips of a second COVID wave. Tracie Strahan reports.
The statewide transmission rate is 1.26, Murphy said Thursday, meaning each sick person infects more than one other person. That’s an active outbreak.
His health commissioner says most of the new cases are not easily traced back to a single exposure and are likely related to routine gatherings in private homes. She urged New Jerseyeans to wear masks even when with their own families.
Connecticut has also seen some severe upticks as of late. Gov. Ned Lamont rolled back some of Connecticut’s reopenings this week; his Phase 2.1 takes effect Friday. He took additional steps Thursday, issuing a statewide public health advisory for people to stay home and limit nonessential outings between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Lamont also asked Connecticut residents to keep Thanksgiving celebrations to 10 people or less. He hopes limiting the size of private, indoor gatherings will limit community spread and make tracking and tracing easier.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow, I get it,” Lamont said. “Do it this Thanksgiving, put up with it a little longer, we’re going to be much better in a long-term.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, is urging people to take precautions to stop rising COVID-19 case numbers and avoid a very difficult winter ahead. NBCLX’s Clark Fouraker breaks down Dr. Fauci’s grim warning and his advice to prevent outbreaks.
Overall, the tri-states’ positivity rates remain well below the national average. New York alternates between the second- or third-lowest in the nation; some states seeing rampant virus spread have positivity rates more than 30 times higher, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.
The surging cases and hospitalizations across the tri-state area and the country reflect the challenge that either President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden — whoever wins the still-undecided presidential election — will face in the coming months over the pandemic, with winter and the holidays approaching.
Public health experts say the country won’t return to any semblance of normal until well after an effective vaccine is available, given concerns about delivery, distribution and administration of any treatment. Cuomo and Murphy have both shared their initial vaccine rollout plans; both describe it as a momentous task. In New York, Cuomo has expressed doubt one would be deliverable by year’s end.