Getting back to normal. NY eases more COVID-19 safety rules as new cases plummet

| 28 Apr 2021 | 07:07

    More people in New York will be able to attend outdoor sport games and concerts, go to the gym and casinos, and work in offices starting in mid-May, the state’s governor announced this week.

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that large-scale outdoor event venues can operate at 33% of capacity starting May 19 for professional and collegiate sports and live entertainment events. That’s up from 20% currently.

    New York will ease other capacity limits by May 15: gyms and fitness centers outside of New York City can move to 50%, up from 33%. Casinos and gaming facilities will increase from 25% to 50% capacity, while offices will increase from 50% to 75% capacity.

    “If you had asked me four months ago, would we have made as much progress as we’ve made, I would have been dubious,” Cuomo said at the New York State fairgrounds in Syracuse at a Monday press conference. “If things keep going the way they’re going, they will be revised up - more capacity, more flexibility.”

    New York had among the nation’s highest rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases this winter, and infection rates remained at high levels throughout February and March.

    But cases and hospitalizations have been steadily dropping in April statewide as more residents get vaccinated: nearly 33% of New York’s 19 million residents are fully vaccinated, above the national rate of 29%. Cases are also dropping in western New York, New York City suburbs and Staten Island, which have reported higher infection rates than the rest of the state this spring.

    New York now has the 12th highest rate of new COVID-19 cases per-capita over the past seven days, according to Associated Press data. That’s below states including Michigan, New Jersey and Florida.

    Hospitals in New York reported 3,174 COVID-19 patients as of Sunday, down from a winter peak of 8,929 patients on Jan. 12. The number of hospitalized patients last reached 3,000 around Thanksgiving, when cases were surging.

    - Marina Villeneuve/Associated Press