October 24, 2020

NY Gov. Cuomo says the NYPD needs to ‘step up’ in enforcing social distancing rules

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a daily briefing following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manhattan in New York City, New York, July 13, 2020.

Mike Segar | Reuters

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday urged the New York City Police Department to “step up” in enforcing social distancing rules on bars and restaurants as coronavirus hospitalizations in the state hit a new low.

New York conducted about 54,000 tests on Sunday and less than 1% came back positive for Covid-19, Cuomo said on a conference call with reporters. The state also hit new lows for the number of people hospitalized, in intensive care and intubated, he said.

“We need the NYPD to step up,” he said, adding the state issued 19 violations to bars or restaurants on Sunday. “I understand the sheriff’s office is helpful and that’s good news. But the sheriff’s office is relatively small … NYPD is something like 35,000 people. This is an enforcement issue.”

The United States has the worst outbreak in the world with more than 5 million cases and at least 162,900 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. New York state, once the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., now has one of the lowest rates of new cases in the nation. 

Last month, Cuomo cleared New York City to enter the next phase of reopening, but he excluded indoor restaurants, bars, museums and malls. At the time, he warned that there is still a risk of a second wave of the virus, urging residents to be vigilant. 

On Friday, Cuomo announced that all school districts across the state had been authorized to reopen for the fall semester, including New York City, the nation’s largest school district.

Cuomo said Monday that he is allowing in-person education to resume because school district planning doesn’t allow students to be surrounded by “hundreds of people the way you would be in a museum.” 

In a museum or mall, “you’re walking past a continuous group of new people,” he said. The schools will “take protections, they are in an isolated place [and] in controlled circumstances.” 

Cuomo is requiring school districts to provide details to the New York State Department of Health for remote learning, testing and contact tracing before reopening. Schools also need to set up a minimum of three education sessions with parents to go through their plans. However, larger school districts need five sessions for parents, he said Friday.

“You can reopen if you have a smart plan,” he said Monday. “It is much more different than a museum because it is a much more controlled circumstance.” 

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