May 16, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today that some sporting events will now be able to take place and elective surgeries are now permitted in more regions across the state.
The announcement comes at a time when many COVID-19 indicators like new hospitalizations and deaths continue to trend downward.
The governor said that horsing racing tracks will be permitted to reopen starting June 1, although without fans. Additionally, the Watkins Glen International auto-race track in Schuyler – which plans to hold a NASCAR race in August – can also open from June 1 without spectators.
“We’re getting a little more nuanced in our analysis, looking for economic activities that you can start without crowds and without gatherings,” the governor said.
Cuomo said these sports will be able to generate revenue from viewers watching on TV.
“Remember, the problem here are crowds and gatherings,” he said.
Cuomo, who also said elective surgeries can begin again in Suffolk and Westchester counties, has been lifting restrictions this week as various COVID-19 health data points trend downward.
For example, the number of daily deaths remained under 200 throughout last week, Cuomo said citing state data.
Similarly, new COVID-19 cases came in lower Friday with 400 daily cases compared to 437 the previous day.
Hospitalizations have also plummeted from a high of 3,181 on April 3, to 400 yesterday.
On Thursday the governor lifted stay-at-home orders in five of the state’s 10 regions – but did not include New York City. And on Friday he announced – in concert with New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware – that beaches and lake shores can open at a reduced capacity from next Friday, in time Memorial Day weekend.
However, Mayor Bill de Blasio said yesterday that city beaches will remain closed due to concerns that people will not be able to follow safe social distancing rules.
De Blasio’s decision has raised concerns among elected officials elsewhere who are fearful that city residents will instead flock to Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut adding pressure to those areas.
Council Speaker Corey Johnson disagreed with the mayor’s policy, stating that it will lead to overcrowding at beaches in the rest of the state.
“We need a plan in place that lets people get relief from the heat and uses our beaches safely,” he tweeted Friday.
A spokesperson for de Blasio said city officials were drafting plans to see if beaches could open later in the summer.
“We are reviewing the guidelines the governor laid out and will make all decisions based on the safety of New Yorkers,” she said.
I’m not ready to give up on NYC beaches this summer. NYers will flock to them no matter what and would end up overcrowding other NY, NJ, and CT beaches if we try to keep them closed. We need a plan in place that lets people get relief from the heat and use our beaches safely.
— NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson (@NYCSpeakerCoJo) May 15, 2020