Coronavirus in New York: Latest Updates

The MTA is cleaning trains, but some people still don’t feel safe. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

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As of Friday morning, there have been more than 371,559 cases of the coronavirus in New York, including nearly 205,834 in New York City. More than 29,438 people with COVID-19 have died in the state, including people with probable, but not confirmed, cases of the virus.

Nationwide, over 1.7 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and three U.S. territories. More than 101,635 Americans have lost their lives to the virus. COVID-19 has killed more than 361,249 worldwide — and far more in the U.S. than in any other country. Roughly one out of every eight people killed by the disease in the world lived in the tri-state area.

Below is what we know about the reported cases and consequences in New York thus far.

As of Wednesday night, health officials have confirmed at least:

  • 371,559 total cases in New York State, including probable cases. (Nearly 1.7 million people have been tested in the state.)
  • 29,438 deaths from the coronavirus in the state, including probable cases.
  • 205,854 cases in New York City, leading to at least 20,895 deaths, including probable cases.
  • 157,815 cases in New Jersey, with 11,401 deaths.
  • 41,559 cases in Connecticut, with 3,826 deaths.

The above counts are of both laboratory-tested and confirmed cases of COVID-19, as well as probable cases — but they don’t necessarily represent the actual number of people who have, or have had, the coronavirus in the region.

Friday, May 29

De Blasio says New Yorkers must get creative about their own transportation

Asked at his Friday-morning press conference to address the concerns of New Yorkers who don’t feel safe on the subway, Mayor de Blasio essentially shrugged. “There’s not always a chance to help people all the time in terms of their transportation needs,” he said. He emphasized the need to make subways and buses as clean as possible, with maximum service levels, social distancing, and limits on ridership to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Still, he said, “I really want to push back on the notion that we can solve everything all the time.” As for what New Yorkers who rely on the MTA should do, de Blasio said, “People are going to have to improvise, and I believe they will.”

Thursday, May 28

City Council pushes for more outdoor dining

Members of the New York City Council Thursday will introduce legislation to expand options for bars and restaurants to serve food outdoor. The legislation calls on the Department of Transportation to identify outdoor space that could used for dining and for the Department of Health to develop guidelines. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson wrote on Twitter that this bill will simply and streamline the typically expensive and complicated process of getting permits for outdoor seating. “Our restaurants need this,” he wrote. “I’m confident that we can creatively use our street space to get them back up and running.”

Wednesday, May 27

De Blasio vows to crack down on “bar-heavy” neighborhoods

On Wednesday, Mayor de Blasio stated that the city — which does not have official guidelines for restaurant and bar owners guiding them through reopening — would begin to enforce a “take out … don’t hang out” policy in nine “bar-heavy” neighborhoods: the Upper East Side, Hell’s Kitchen, the East Village, the West Village, the Lower East Side, Williamsburg, Long Island City, Astoria, and City Island.

Tuesday, May 26

The NYSE trading floor is open once again

Governor Cuomo rang the bell to open the trading floor on the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday, the first time in over two months the floor has been open. The typically chaotic atmosphere was more subdued Tuesday under a new set of rules meant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Anyone entering the building must undergo a temperature check, wear a mask, maintain six feet of distance, and not ride public transit. The trading floor, which had been closed on March 23, opened at 25 percent capacity Tuesday.

Monday, May 25

Families of government workers who died fighting virus to receive benefits

Governor Cuomo said Monday that the families of state and city workers who died fighting the coronavirus outbreak will receive line-of-duty benefits. Cuomo listed transit workers, emergency medical workers, police officers, and firefighters among those whose families would see the payout. The benefits include both the covering of funeral costs and 66 percent of the person’s salary. “I want to make sure we repay them — and not just by saying thank you and running nice television commercials,” Cuomo said Monday.

Sunday, May 24

Professional sports teams can open their training camps

New York’s professional sports teams can open their training camps, Governor Cuomo announced Sunday, provided the teams follow social-distancing protocols. Teams will still need to get the go-ahead from their respective leagues, however.

NYC remains paused, but Long Island and Mid-Hudson will reopen midweek

The Mid-Hudson region will likely begin phase one of the New York Forward reopening plan on Tuesday, and Long Island will begin Wednesday, Governor Cuomo announced Sunday. Both regions are expected to have met the criteria to join the other seven regions of the state that are already reopening.

That means that as of Thursday, New York City will be the only region of the state still under lockdown, and it is still not clear exactly when the city will be able to begin reopening — though it should be in the first or second week of June.

Saturday, May 23

Rat aggression and cannibalism is on the rise

The lack of restaurant trash has affected the ecosystem that relies on discarded food, according to the CDC. The Washington Post explains:

Amid stay-home restrictions set across the country to battle the spread of the novel coronavirus, many restaurants and cafes are closed or limited to takeout and delivery, and with the reduced sales, the restaurants’ trash bins are no longer overflowing with scrumptious leftovers hordes of rodents subsisted on. Finding slimmer pickings, critters have become more aggressive, prompting the CDC to issue guidance on how to deter them.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been increased reports of rat cannibalism and infanticide in New York, as well as more rat complaints in residential areas — including in Chicago — as humans produce more food waste at home. Roving rat armies, including one caught on camera scavenging New Orleans’ empty streets, are concerning to the CDC, which says rodents can carry disease.

Less than 100 deaths for the first time in nearly two months

It’s hardly welcome news, but the daily New York death toll from the coronavirus has dropped below 100 for the first time since March 24. Only 84 people lost their lives to COVID-19 on Friday, including 62 people in hospitals and another 22 in nursing homes. (Update: The number went back up over 100 on Saturday, to 105, but the daily death toll has still been consistently trending downward.)

Friday, May 22

Small nonessential gatherings are back

Small gatherings of up to ten socially distanced people are once again allowed in New York, Governor Cuomo announced on Friday night. The surprise move came after the New York Civil Liberties Union sued the state, arguing that Cuomo’s earlier order, which allowed groups of up to ten people to attend religious services and celebrations to mark Memorial Day, infringed on New Yorkers’ First Amendment rights by limiting who could gather. In response, Cuomo signed a new order allowing anyone to gather in groups of that size for any reason statewide.

A new NYC no-no: hanging out outside restaurants

Mayor de Blasio said Friday that the NYPD will begin an effort this weekend to crack down on people gathering outside bars and restaurants. Last weekend, pictures circulated of large groups eating and drinking outside establishments that are currently only allowed to serve takeout. To discourage that this weekend, the city will hang posters as a part of its new “Take Out … Don’t Hang Out” campaign. De Blasio said the NYPD will have a stronger presence in areas where crowds congregated last weekend.

Thursday, May 21

Nearly one in four New Yorkers are food insecure

Mayor de Blasio stated on Thursday that close to a quarter of the city’s residents faced trouble getting enough food: “We think that number is two million or more,” he said, noting that the number is close to double the pre-pandemic rate. To combat the crisis, the city continues to expand its food-distribution systems and will provide $420 for every family with a child in public school to pay for food while schools are closed. Payments are expected to begin in early June.

People are starting to take the train again

The MTA released a raft of statistics Wednesday about how New Yorkers are getting around as the coronavirus outbreak slows. Subway ridership is up to around 600,000 trips a day from a low of 400,000 in April. Bus ridership is up as well with roughly 700,000 trips taken each day. Both are still down significantly from their pre-pandemic levels.

The relative popularity of buses — in normal times, the subways draw three times as many riders — has public-transit advocacy groups calling for expanded service above ground. “Our thought is that, as the pandemic ends, people will feel more comfortable getting on a bus than the subway because it’s not underground,” Riders Alliance spokesman Danny Pearlstein told the New York Post. “We believe a service increase is the route to easing crowding, which is the most important way to make sure riders are safe.”

A man sits on the recently reopened boardwalk at Long Beach, just east of New York City. Photo: Getty Images

Wednesday, May 20

NYC residents not welcome at Long Island beaches

Leaders in Nassau and Suffolk counties plan to ban New York City residents from their beaches in response to Mayor de Blasio’s decision to keep the city’s beaches closed over Memorial Day weekend. Nassau County Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello told reporters that he fears Nassau County becoming inundated with visitors from NYC. Jones Beach and Robert Moses State Park are state-run and will remain open to everyone, but visitors to resident-restricted beaches can expect to show ID when entering to prove they’re not banned.

Tuesday, May 19

New York introduces pilot program allowing visitors to return to some hospitals

Visitors have been effectively forbidden from hospitals across the state since March 18, meaning that many thousands of coronavirus victims were not able to say goodbye in person to their families and loved ones. But on Tuesday, Governor Cuomo announced a pilot program beginning May 26 which will allow visitors to return to 16 hospitals in New York, including nine in New York City. Visitors must wear PPE and will be subject to temperature checks.

Brooklyn yeshiva shutdown after holding classes

The NYPD shutdown a Brooklyn yeshiva that had around 100 students in classes Monday morning. Police received a tip Monday that the school, located in Bedford-Stuyvesant, was operating after neighbors called about seeing children playing on the roof without masks. No summonses were issued, but NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea told NY1 it would have been “appropriate” if they had been. “If a summons had been issued yesterday, I would have been fine with it,” he said. “We empower our local precinct commanders to make decisions based on the facts, and I think he accomplished what the mission was, to make sure that people are socially distancing.”

Monday, May 18

Black and Latino New Yorkers are dying at almost twice the rate of whites

On Monday, the NYC Department of Health released data showing that death rates for black and Latino New Yorkers were around 200 people per 100,000, while death rates for white and Asian New Yorkers were around 100 people per 100,000. “We are watching, in real time, racial disparities and the pandemic of poverty,” Michael Blake, an assemblyman representing a district in the Bronx, told the New York Times.

De Blasio says beach fences are ready

While New York state beaches will open for Memorial Day weekend, NYC beaches will remain closed and Mayor de Blasio has threatened to fence them off if people don’t abide by the rules. The fencing, which would cut off entry points to the beaches, will be put “in position” starting today, he said. “I don’t want to implement it unless we need to,” de Blasio said, “but we have to have it ready.” Walking on the beach is allowed, the mayor said, but “no swimming, no lifeguards, no parties, no barbecues, no sports.”

Sunday, May 17

Western New York and the Capital Region near criteria to begin reopening

Two more New York regions, Western New York and the Capital Region, will be able to enter phase one of reopening as soon as they adequately expand their contact-tracing capabilities, Governor Cuomo said on Sunday. When that happens — possibly as early as this week — a total of seven upstate regions will be in the process of reopening.

Saturday, May 16

ProPublica report details coronavirus-response failures by Cuomo and de Blasio

The “intrastate cold war” between Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio hampered New York’s response to the pandemic and likely exacerbated the death toll from the coronavirus in the city and state, according to a ProPublica investigation published on Saturday. The report contrasts how leaders in New York and California have handled the crisis and identifies several critical ways Cuomo and de Blasio mismanaged the response in New York.

One of those major problems was the often petty rivalry between the two leaders, which continued despite the pandemic and led to confusion and a lack of coordination and information sharing. “While New York’s formal pandemic response plan underscores the need for seamless communication between state and local officials, the state Health Department broke off routine sharing of information and strategy with its city counterpart in February, just as the size of the menace was becoming clearer, according to both a city official and a city employee,” ProPublica explains.

Per the report, both Cuomo and de Blasio dragged their feet, did not follow the right expert guidance, delivered both incorrect and mixed messages in response to the growing threat, and resisted measures that would have likely saved lives. (Spokespeople for both the governor and mayor pushed back on the core claims and criticisms in the report.)

Regarding de Blasio’s response, ProPublica summarized what was effectively a pandemic-failure diary kept by an alarmed city official:

The official noted that the New York City Health Department is a revered institution, with an international reputation for its size, resources and expertise. Discouraged and angry that its talent and commitment were being blunted, the official noted how the department’s commissioner had been humiliated by de Blasio in a formal meeting, reduced to tears. Both she and her top deputies, the official wrote, later spent too much of their time at the side of a mayor making public health policy on the fly.

Taken together, the official’s contemporaneous notes, later shared with ProPublica, read like a disturbing diary of what the official came to see as a slow motion leadership disaster.

Regarding Cuomo’s delay in shutting down the state:

ProPublica spoke with a half a dozen epidemiologists who said the events in New Rochelle could have been an opportunity for Cuomo to have acted more boldly and broadly. Instead of treating the threat as isolated to Westchester County, Cuomo could have seen a sign of wider infection in tightly packed New York City that hadn’t been detected because of inadequate testing.

“What made anyone in New York think it wasn’t going to get hit, and hit hard?” asked Rupak Shivakoti, an epidemiologist at Columbia. When you’re dealing with a pandemic’s exponential growth in the number of infections, he said, “even a week makes a huge difference.”

The report also notes how the state had not followed its own 2006 pandemic preparation plan with regard to PPE stockpiles and the ability to quickly expand hospital capacity — and that the plan itself was inadequate since it mostly made predictions about what would happen rather than set out proposals for what to do about it.

The ProPublica investigation is not the first (nor the last) to examine what New York officials could have — or should have — done differently, but it adds to a growing pile of evidence indicating that city and state leaders will have a lot to answer for when this is all over.

Next up in reopening: tristate beaches, elective surgeries in a total of 49 counties, and racetracks for remote viewing

New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Delaware are coordinating the reopening of their state beaches on May 22 in time for Memorial Day weekend, and city and county beaches can reopen too, if local officials agree. Beach capacity must be limited to 50 percent, and group-contact activities like sports will be prohibited.

New York City beaches are to remain closed for the foreseeable future, though it does not appear that those closures are being enforced.

Meanwhile in New Jersey, chartered boat services will be allowed to reopen on Sunday. And on Tuesday, cash tollbooths will return to action on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway for the first time since March 24.

On June 1, New York racetracks will be allowed to reopen — without fans — Governor Cuomo announced Saturday.

And two more counties — Westchester and Suffolk — are allowing health-care facilities to resume elective surgeries and ambulatory care, which means elective surgeries are now back in 49 of the state’s 62 counties.

Bronx surfer arrested in Hawaii for breaking mandatory quarantine (after posting the pictures to prove it on Instagram)

A New Yorker who violated Hawaii’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for all visitors was arrested on Friday, per Gothamist:

The man, identified as Tarique Peters, 23, posted photos of himself catching some sun and hitting the beach this past week. The state attorney general, Clare Connors, said the man wasted no time leaving his hotel room the day he arrived, using public transportation to get around.

Peters was arrested and jailed on Friday. A judge set bail for Peters at $4,000. Investigators also found a local Hawaii resident, a man, with Peters; charges against him are pending.

Connors thanked local spotters for noticing Peters (an Instagram post from May 4th showed him in New York City, in Bryant Park). Hotel staffers were also credited for telling investigators they noticed Peters leaving his hotel room several times.

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Friday night at the movies in Warwick

A few New York drive-in movie theaters opened on Friday, including the Warwick Drive-In, which reduced its capacity by half (to 300 cars) and reportedly drew desperate moviegoers from out of town, per the Times Herald-Record:

Not even the threat of a thunderstorm passing through during the shows seemed to discourage the steady line of cars coming in off Warwick Turnpike.

“Either way, we’re staying,” said Glenn Zanetti of Newton, New Jersey, who came with his wife Tracy and their daughter Ava, 12, and 21-month-old son Lorenzo …

While the COVID-19 pandemic has put brand-new Hollywood releases on hold for now, the Warwick Drive-In assembled a mix of recent releases to appeal to a variety of ages and interests and fill their three screens: “Bad Boys for Life” and “Jumanji: The Next Level,” “Trolls World Tour” and “Sonic the Hedgehog,” and “Bloodshot” and “The Invisible Man.”

Friday, May 15

Five New York regions open up today

Half of the state’s ten regions will be allowed to loosen restrictions on some businesses Friday after achieving the seven benchmarks Governor Cuomo required to reopen. The regions are Central New York, the Finger Lakes, the Souther Tier, North Country, and Mohawk Valley Regions. One Friday, Cuomo laid out regulations for business owners and individuals when venturing out this weekend.

Thursday, May 14

A disconcerting choice to lead the city’s pandemic response

The New York Times reports that in March, the head of NYC’s public hospitals, Dr. Mitchell Katz, opposed closing the city, claiming that there is “no proof that closures will help stop the spread.” Despite the error, Mayor de Blasio has handed Katz the opportunity to oversee contact tracing, including the assembly and management of a staff of 2,500 who will track the contacts of confirmed coronavirus cases.

100 NYC children have COVID-19-related syndrome

New York City now has 100 children with the mysterious COVID-19-related inflammatory syndrome that has killed three children in the state. On Wednesday, Governor Cuomo said the syndrome has shown up in 15 states and five European countries. The illness, which is brought on by a “hyper-response” from the immune system, causes inflammation in blood vessels and affects a child’s heart. Of the 100 NYC cases, 55 involved children who tested positive for the coronavirus or antibodies. Mayor de Blasio said Wednesday the city will launch an advertising campaign to alert parents of the symptoms. “We have to rapidly inform families all over the city,” he said.

Wednesday, May 13

NYC records longest stretch without pedestrian death since 1983

For the first time since New York City began tracking pedestrian fatalities in 1983, 58 days have passed without a vehicle killing someone on foot in the city. The stretch extends one week longer than the city’s time in lockdown, which has lasted 51 days so far. NYC Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg told the City Council that there are still concerns about dangerous drivers, though. “Unfortunately, some drivers are taking advantage of our empty streets to speed recklessly, and we know we can never let up our vigilance,” Trottenberg said.

Tuesday, May 12

Another report of a delay caused by de Blasio

Despite the City Health Department’s experience with contact tracing, last week Mayor de Blasio made the decision to hand over the robust effort to determine who has been exposed to coronavirus patients to the city’s Health + Hospitals system. According to one Health Department official who spoke with Politico, the new oversight of the program has resulted in a weeklong delay in which no one has been hired, costing the city time as contact tracing remains a vital piece of New York’s plan to reopen.

CDC says NYC death toll likely higher than official count

The 52 days between March 11 and May 2 saw 32,107 deaths in New York City, which is 24,172 more than the “seasonal expected baseline,” according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The tally of excess deaths is much higher than the official COVID-19 death toll in the city during that period, which is 18,879, including 13,831 deaths of people confirmed to have had COVID-19 and 5,048 probable deaths. That leave 5,293 excess deaths not accounted for. The CDC report notes that these deaths “might have been directly or indirectly attributable to the pandemic.”

Monday, May 11

De Blasio: Lockdown likely to continue to June

While some areas of New York may begin to reopen nonessential businesses this weekend, New York City is not one of them. Mayor de Blasio said Monday that the city is “not ready” and its lockdown will likely continue into next month. “June is when we’re going to potentially be able to make some real changes if we continue our progress,” he said. He pointed to the numbers of hospitalizations and ICU admissions along with positive test rates as the daily indicators that need to continue to move downward if the city’s businesses are to reopen.

Sunday, May 10

Cuomo announces new rules to protect people in nursing homes

With nursing home patients and workers making up a third of all U.S. coronavirus deaths, Governor Cuomo announced new protections for people in nursing homes. “The rule is very simple,” Cuomo said on Sunday. “If a nursing home cannot provide care for a person and provide the appropriate level of care for any reason, they must transfer the person out of the facility.” About 100,000 New Yorkers live in long-term facilities, and for those homes that cannot find a transfer destination, the Department of Health will relocate the patients to excess-capacity hospital beds in places like the Javits Center. All nursing-home workers must now be tested for the virus twice a week.

More than 5 percent of New York nursing-home residents have been killed by COVID-19

Per the New York Post:

As of the start of Sunday, there were 2,598 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the facilities statewide, the DOH said. There also were 2,646 fatal presumed coronavirus cases in New York nursing homes, in which the deceased weren’t officially tested but displayed telltale symptoms of the contagion. Both figures total 5,244 deaths, or nearly 5.2 percent of the state’s nursing-home population of 101,518.

And that percentage doesn’t even include the nursing-home residents who were transferred to other facilities, such as hospitals, and died from COVID-19.

Amid criticism of aggressive enforcement and racial profiling, NYC will more than double number of “social-distancing ambassadors”

A total of 2,600 people will be employed by the city to help take a “communicative, encouraging approach” to getting New Yorkers to obey the social-distancing rules, Mayor de Blasio announced Sunday. The city originally had 1,000 workers in the role.

Statistics have shown that at least 80 percent of the social-distancing-related summonses given by the NYPD through early last week have gone to people of color.

Saturday, May 9

Three children have now died from a rare and mysterious coronavirus-linked illness

Three of the at least 73 children in the state who have been struck with a mysterious COVID-19-related multi-system inflammatory syndrome have died, Governor Cuomo announced on Saturday, and other possible related deaths are still being investigated. (He confirmed the first death — a 5-year-old New York City boy being treated at Mount Sinai Children’s Hospital — on Friday.)

The illness, which resembles Kawasaki disease and toxic-shock syndrome, is very rare among kids who have had the coronavirus infection and can lead to symptoms including a prolonged fever, severe abdominal pain, rash, red eyes and lips, and a swollen tongue. Most of the children who have developed the syndrome have been toddlers or elementary age.

New York is making the terrifying illness a top priority, Cuomo said, announcing that the CDC has asked the state to develop a national criteria for diagnosing and treating the syndrome. The state is also conducting genetic research on the illness in partnership with the New York Genome Center and Rockefeller University.

NYC churches will be used as testing sites in low-income/minority communities

In an effort to expand the availability of coronavirus testing to communities of color in New York City, the state is partnering with Northwell Health to set up 24 temporary COVID-19 testing sites at churches in minority-majority communities across the city, Governor Cuomo announced Saturday. The test sites will open over the next two weeks.

This post has been repeatedly updated to include new information and remove older stories.

Coronavirus in New York: Latest Updates