What to Know

  • Out-of-state travel and slipping citizen compliance are contributing to new COVID concerns in New York and New Jersey; the latter is now seeing its highest viral transmission rate in 10 weeks as U.S. cases surge
  • Connecticut became the latest tri-state to pause its reopening process Monday, pulling the brakes on bars and larger indoor gatherings; NYC and NJ have postponed indoor dining indefinitely
  • With fall school still in limbo, Mayor de Blasio said NYC’s Board of Health would vote Tuesday on a plan to reopen more than 3,000 childcare centers across the five boroughs as early as next week to give parents some relief

Connecticut became the latest state to pause its reopening process Monday, hitting the brakes on bars and larger indoor gatherings amid growing national concerns enclosed spaces may pose a significantly heightened risk of infection.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, meanwhile, warned he may have to hit pause for the second time in roughly eight days. His state is now seeing its highest transmission rate in 10 weeks; it’s at 1.0, meaning one sick person infects at least one other person. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says that defines an outbreak.

Both New York and New Jersey are experiencing slipping citizen compliance when it comes to mask-wearing and social distancing, the governors say. Both governors are also investigating new COVID clusters tied to out-of-state travel.

Confirmed cases are on the rise in 41 out of 50 states plus the District of Columbia, and the percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus is increasing in 39 states. Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, says the new COVID patients are roughly 15 years younger compared with the new cases just a few months ago.

The tri-state area implemented a 14-day quarantine order two weeks ago to try to keep those infections out. Sixteen states are on now on the restricted list.

“An outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere. That’s the mentality we have to have now,” Cuomo said Monday. “We can’t protect ourselves as an island because we’re not an island. We’re already seeing it happen.”

In New Jersey, 12 of 13 new cases in Hoboken are “directly linked” to travel, Murphy says. New Jerseyans returning from a wedding in Myrtle Beach also brought more virus back home. In New York, Cuomo is investigating whether a sick Florida student may have infected four others at a Westchester County drive-in graduation. That ceremony preceded the quarantine order by four days.

As of Monday, 21 U.S. states had either totally reversed or paused their planned reopenings. Is it too late? The CDC warned more than a week ago that the surging U.S. outbreaks may already be beyond the nation’s ability to control. It’s only gotten worse since. The mayor of Atlanta, whose state is among the 16 on the tri-state restricted list, said Tuesday she believes Georgia moved too fast.

“I think we were too aggressive in opening up,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told ABC. “It was too aggressive, it was too soon, and we’re paying for it not just in Georgia, but we’re paying for it across the country”

Cuomo is increasingly concerned soaring U.S. infections will lead to soaring infections in New York, especially the city. The five boroughs can’t afford that.

More than 230 scientists from around the globe signed a public letter to the World Health Organization, demanding the organization acknowledge and publicize findings that the coronavirus can spread through the air.

More than 20,000 lives — at least — have been lost to the virus already. Millions of jobs have vanished. The former epicenter of the national crisis is just now slowly beginning to emerge from one of the bleakest chapters in its history, progressing successfully through two of Cuomo’s reopening phases. It started the third step Monday without indoor dining, as Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio agreed now is not the time to move that forward.

New Jersey has also postponed indoor dining indefinitely. Simply put, Murphy and Cuomo say it’s easier to delay the start than it is to reverse a mistake. Ask parts of Florida and California, which are closing restaurants all over again.

While shopping malls have reopened with strict limitations in New Jersey, Cuomo won’t yet commit to that move in New York, nor will he open casinos, movie theaters or fitness centers at this point. He won’t even commit to New York’s schools reopening in some capacity in the fall, even as de Blasio repeatedly and in no uncertain terms has told parents that will be the case.

As the fate of schools hang in the balance, de Blasio said the city’s Board of Health would vote Tuesday on a plan to reopen more than 3,000 childcare centers across the five boroughs as early as next week to give parents some relief. Requirements would include a 15-child cap and mandatory face coverings.

New Jersey governor Phil Murphy is expressing concern after New Jersey records its highest rate of transmission of COVID-19 in 10 weeks and he warns of the dangerous implications this trend could have for residents of the state, Brian Thompson reports

Mask mandates have been discussed for school in the fall as well, but Cuomo says the current climate is too dangerous and unpredictable to say they’ll definitively open at all. The state’s 700 school districts have been told to submit their reopening plans to his office for approval in the meantime.

“At the moment, no decisions have been made on whether schools are reopening in the fall. We will follow the data, and make a decision on the data,” the governor said Monday. “The numbers all continue to show that we are right where we need to be, but what’s happening around the country is a cold reminder that we must all continue to be cautious, smart and disciplined.”

He has blamed the federal government for pushing uninformed reopenings over public health in a desperate attempt to revive the starved national economy.

Daily Percentage of Positive Tests by New York Region

With all of New York state in some phase of reopening, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is shifting his focus to monitoring test results on a daily basis across each region to identify potential hotspots before they emerge. Here’s the latest tracking data by region. For the latest county-level results statewide, click here

New York hasn’t seen any significant infection upticks related to reopenings thus far. Daily death tolls have fallen to the single digits or low double digits, while total hospitalizations are consistently setting new three-month lows.

The state’s Mid-Hudson region, which includes Westchester, Rockland and five other counties, transitions to the fourth and final phase of Cuomo’s reopening plan on Tuesday. That phase reopens low-risk indoor and outdoor venues like museums, aquariums and zoos with capacity limitations and other restrictions. It also raises the cap on social gatherings, indoor and outdoor, to 50. Long Island will make the same move to Phase IV on Wednesday, Cuomo has said.

When it does, New York City will once again be in a phase alone. Given how the state’s phased reopening has proceeded thus far, the five boroughs could be on track to get to Phase IV as early as July 20. But much has changed in two weeks. Cuomo already broke the mold once to delay the return of indoor dining in New York City, even while the rest of the state is allowed to continue it. He may again.

“We continue to closely monitor the regions to track the infection and hospitalization rate and be sure neither is going up,” Cuomo said. “We will tighten or loosen the reopening speed as necessary depending on the data. If we see spikes in data or lack of compliance, we will slow down the reopening and adjust accordingly.”

According to Covid Act Now, a group that assesses each state’s COVID risk and whose data has been cited by both Cuomo and Murphy, now says neither New York nor New Jersey are on track to contain COVID. Both had that distinction about a week ago and now are downgraded to controlling the disease. Connecticut and Rhode Island both fell out of the green in the last five days, leaving Massachusetts and Vermont the only U.S. states on track to contain the virus, according to Covid Act Now. The group evaluates risk based on testing and hospital capacity, infection and death trends and contact tracing efficiency.

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