Fourth region of upstate New York cleared to slowly reopen
NEW YORK (AP) — A fourth region in upstate New York might start reopening for business. New York City launched an informational campaign about a rare syndrome afflicting children. And the city’s police commissioner rebutted complaints of racism in his department’s handling of social distancing violations.
Among the developments Wednesday in New York on the coronavirus pandemic:
BACK IN BUSINESS?
A fourth region of upstate New York has met the criteria to gradually restart its economic activity as the state prepares to slowly relax its pandemic-induced social restrictions, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
The North Country, a sprawling, rural swath that includes the Adirondack Mountains, met all seven benchmarks the state requires before selected businesses can be approved for reopening, according to the administration.
New York’s Southern Tier, the Mohawk Valley and the Finger Lakes previously met the standards, and regions are preparing to reopen in phases as early as Friday.
New York’s 10 regions can start reopening once they demonstrate that COVID-19-related deaths and hospitalizations are down; that there are enough hospital beds to meet any new surge in cases; and that there is sufficient local testing and contact-tracing efforts.
The economic reopenings will proceed in phases, starting with construction, manufacturing, retail with curbside pickup, agriculture, forestry and fishing.
Most other states have begun phasing in reopening activities. But Cuomo opted to go slower, starting with upstate areas outside the hard-hit New York City region.
New York City is launching an ad campaign to educate parents about a rare syndrome that is thought to be linked to COVID-19 and has been diagnosed in more than 80 children in the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
Digital ads alerting parents to the symptoms of the inflammatory condition in children are starting Wednesday, de Blasio said, and ads on radio and TV, on bus shelters, and in community newspapers will follow.
“We have to rapidly inform families all over the city,” the mayor said.
The condition, being called pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, affects blood vessels and organs and has symptoms including prolonged fever, abdominal pain and vomiting.
Two young boys and an 18-year-old girl diagnosed with the syndrome have died in New York state, including one in New York City.
Health officials are investigating 102 cases statewide, Cuomo said. Sixty percent of the children displaying symptoms tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, and 40% tested positive for its antibodies.
New York City’s police commissioner passionately defended his department against complaints of racism after videos surfaced showing officers violently arresting people of color for violating orders to maintain social distance in public.
“I will push back strongly on any notion that this is business as usual for the NYPD, or that this is ‘racist policing,'” Commissioner Dermot Shea said Wednesday at de Blasio’s news conference. “I think this could not be anything further from the truth.”
Some of the videos were “incredibly disheartening” and “frankly disturbing,” Shea conceded. At least one confrontation is being investigated internally.
Recently released police department data showed that about 90% of people arrested for coronavirus-related offenses and that about 80% of people issued court summonses on distancing violations have been black or Hispanic.
Some officers have received death threats in the past week after officers were caught on camera manhandling suspects in at least five instances, Shea said.
One video showed an officer pulling a stun gun on a black man and violently taking him to the ground, and another showed an officer punching a man in the head as he lay pinned to a sidewalk, unable to fight back.
The state attorney general on Wednesday called on the NYPD to publicly release its policies on social distancing enforcement and any detailed demographic data on related arrests or summonses.
New York state recorded 166 new deaths Tuesday, bringing the total since March to more than 22,000. The state tally does not include the more than 5,100 deaths in New York City that were attributed to the virus on death certificates but weren’t confirmed by a lab test.
Though hospitalizations are down, New York still averages more than 400 COVID-19 admissions a day.