Governor Says 10 People Can Now Gather

Kevin P. Coughlin, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo conducts his daily COVID-19 briefing from his New York City office May 22.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced late Friday night the state’s absolute ban on gatherings of any size has been lifted.

In a May 22 executive order, the governor said nonessential gatherings of up to 10 people are now allowed as long as they abide by guidelines adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was also a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation. Cuomo said theoretically a gathering of 10 people should be OK, especially due to the fact it’s a CDC sanction, but also stressed it’s still dependent on how people act.

“You can have a safe gathering of 10 people. You can also have a wholly unsafe gathering of 10 people,” he said May 23 during his daily briefing from the New York State Executive Mansion. “You can have an unsafe gathering of three people. You can have an unsafe gathering of two people. It only takes two . . . It’s all managing risk versus reward.”

The guidelines still include the social distancing mandate — staying at least 6 feet away from other people — and wearing a face covering. Cuomo also reminded people to continue washing their hands regularly and using hand sanitizer.

“We know that [the novel coronavirus] can rear its ugly head at any moment,” the governor said. “Wear a mask, wash your hands, socially distance, use hand sanitizer. Those masks can save your life. Those masks can save another person’s life.”

The order, issued on the eve of Memorial Day weekend, is one of the biggest steps New York has taken to relax restrictions adopted in March at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Highlighting those limitations forbidding the gathering together of anyone but essential workers and those living in the same household.

States Deaths Drop Below 100

On Day 84 of the global crisis New York has continued to see a decline in the number of hospitalizations, intubations, new COVID-19 cases, and deaths.

For the first time in two months that number dropped below 100, to 84. There were 109 lives lost May 21.

“Eighty-four is still a tragedy,” Cuomo said, talking about the 62 lives lost in hospitals and 22 in nursing homes. “The fact that it’s down as low as it is really overall good news. It doesn’t do any good for those 84 families that are feeling the pain, but every day is a new day, and for me, this is a sign we’re making really good progress.”

A total 96,789 COVID-19-related deaths have been reported in the United States, 338,980 worldwide. Nationally, there are 1,615,562 confirmed coronavirus cases, 5,226,159 globally.

Testing for COVID-19 is now available at over 760 locations across the state. The governor continued to stress that just because a person is not showing symptoms doesn’t mean he or she does not have the novel coronavirus.

“About a third of people who have the virus never have symptoms, but you can still spread it if you have it, even if you don’t know you have it,” Cuomo said. “That’s one of the insidious elements to this virus — so get a test. We’re trying to make it as easy as possible . . . This is something where we need people to continue to step up. It protects you, it protects your family, it protects everyone.”

He said the numbers don’t lie — the state’s curve shows New York is moving in the right direction.

“You look at the New York curve, you look at how low it is, you look at the number of deaths, you look at the decline — compare that with the rest of the nation where you still see the rest of the nation’s curve going up,” Cuomo said. “The good news to remember is what we are doing is working. It’s the social acceptance and culture of being New York tough, which is smart. Smart is getting a test. Smart is protecting yourself. Smart is look at the risk versus reward. We’re united. We’re disciplined. It’s showing respect and love for your family and society and operating that way.”

Long Island Could Reopen As Early As Wednesday

Due to the continued decline in virus-related statistics Long Island could begin Phase 1 of reopening as early as Wednesday, Cuomo said.

Long Island-reported deaths have also continued to drop, and contact tracers are getting online as Nassau and Suffolk counties push to meet the metrics.

“We could open by Wednesday if the number of deaths continue to decline and we get that tracing up,” Cuomo said. “That is also very good news.”

Tracing training can be done online, and could happen through the holiday weekend to meet the number needed by mid-week.

Ahead of Memorial Day, state beaches opened and the governor said visitors have been respectful of others and stayed socially distant.

“People are great. They’re doing what they’re supposed to do,” Cuomo said. “Day one was a success, but we must stay vigilant.”

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