NYC creeps toward reopening: Restaurant capacity to rise to 35%, nursing homes to allow visitors again and 11 rapid testing sites open providing half-hour tests for $30

 Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that restaurants in New York City will be allowed to expand indoor dining to 35 percent of maximum capacity, as the city slowly eases pandemic restrictions.

The move to expand indoor dining to match levels in New Jersey will take effect on February 26, and Cuomo's announcement on Friday came just a week after NYC reopened indoor dining at 25 percent.

In his press conference on Friday, Cuomo also announced new rapid COVID testing sites in New York City, and touted plans to allow visitors in nursing homes with a negative test result, even as his administration faces backlash and a federal probe over its handling of nursing home deaths.

'Obviously we're more sensitive to New York City because of the density, the concentration, the history, but we're headed in the right direction. The numbers continue to be good, we'll continue to make progress,' Cuomo said.


Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that restaurants in New York City will be allowed to expand indoor dining to 35 percent of maximum capacity next week

Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that restaurants in New York City will be allowed to expand indoor dining to 35 percent of maximum capacity next week

Indoor dining is seen at Chez Josephine in Manhattan last weekend, after it resumed at 25%. On February 26 indoor dining will expand to 35% in the city

Indoor dining is seen at Chez Josephine in Manhattan last weekend, after it resumed at 25%. On February 26 indoor dining will expand to 35% in the city


New York City's seven-day rolling average of positive test results was 7.29 percent on Friday, representing a decline in recent weeks. The rolling average of new daily cases was 3,656, the lowest level since December. 


The rest of New York state currently allows indoor dining at 50 percent capacity, a level that the city's struggling restaurant owners have pushed for.

Still, the move to 35 percent will be the highest level of indoor dining allowed in the city since the initial lockdown hit last March.

As well, Cuomo announced tentative plans to allow visitors into nursing homes for the first time in nearly a year. 

The governor said the state Department of Health is recommending allowing visitors who produce a negative COVID test result, in line with guidelines from the CDC and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Cuomo has blamed both of those agencies for his order last March for nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients when they were discharged from hospitals.

The order has been blamed for spreading the virus to thousands of vulnerable residents at nursing homes, and the governor backtracked on the order in May. 


That order and the state's subsequent accounting of nursing home COVID deaths, are now the subject of massive backlash and an investigation by the FBI and federal prosecutors. 

On Friday, Cuomo blamed the scandal on 'lies' and 'misinformation' from partisan media outlets that are out to get him.

Cuomo didn't give a specific date for when nursing home visits could resume but the change appears to be immediate, since it relies on federal guidelines. 

Cuomo also announced on Friday that 11 new rapid COVID-19 testing locations have opened in New York City, saying that testing would play an important role in reopening.

'I believe reopening is going to be accelerated by testing,' he said. 'Testing is the key to reopening quickly, prior to herd immunity – which is June/July.'

The 11 sites will be capable of conducting more than 5,000 rapid tests per day, the governor said. 

Eleven new rapid COVID-19 testing locations have opened in New York City. Above, the Manhattan skyline is seen from Brooklyn on Friday

Eleven new rapid COVID-19 testing locations have opened in New York City. Above, the Manhattan skyline is seen from Brooklyn on Friday

Next week, large New York venues and arenas, including Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden, will be permitted to reopen under strict testing and other COVID protocol requirements. 

In mid-March, limited wedding receptions can resume with a capacity limit of 50 percent and 150-person max attendance. On Friday, Cuomo also set new guidance for reopening New York City's college campuses in person.

Most of the city's colleges have been conducting classes mostly online, but Cuomo's guidelines call for random testing of 25 percent of the student body once a week to resume in-person classes.

Colleges can remain open if their positivity rates do not exceed 5 percent during a rolling 14-day period. 

It comes a day after New York City officials issued guidelines pleading with residents to 'double mask,' or wear two masks while out in public. 

It comes a day after New York City officials issued guidelines pleading with residents to 'double mask.' Above, a man wears two masks in Times Square

It comes a day after New York City officials issued guidelines pleading with residents to 'double mask.' Above, a man wears two masks in Times Square

Cuomo, whose administration had been accused by some of covering up COVID deaths in nursing homes, flashed up a side during his briefing that said: 'No one has a right to spread lies or misinformation that causes pain to the families'

Cuomo, whose administration had been accused by some of covering up COVID deaths in nursing homes, flashed up a side during his briefing that said: 'No one has a right to spread lies or misinformation that causes pain to the families' 

During his press briefing, Cuomo spent about 15 minutes defiantly defending his administration's response to nursing homes but did say he should have provided more public information on deaths 'sooner'. 

In recent weeks, the administration revealed that 15,000 long-term care residents have died, up from the 8,500 previously disclosed. 

Cuomo's top aide, Melissa DeRosa, told Democratic lawmakers that the administration delayed releasing data to the legislature about the deaths because officials 'froze' over fears the information was 'going to be used against us' by the DOJ.   

Cuomo has been accused of covering up COVID deaths in nursing homes, and has faced calls from state republicans to resign.

But he said: 'No one has a right to spread lies or misinformation that causes pain to the families'.

He went on to say that he 'should have been more aggressive' in fighting 'lies' and regrets not cracking down on what he described as misinformation. 

He said he made a mistake in becoming 'complacent' about the misinformation, saying he dismissed it 'as false agendas and partisan politics'. 

'I was not aggressive enough in knocking down the falsities. We were busy. We were doing our job. We're trying to save lives. No excuses,' he said.   

'I'm not going to allow people to lie to the people of New York without answering them. I have very thick skin. I don't really care what people say about me. I agreed to this nasty business because I believe I can do good things. I'm not going to let you lie to them.' 

He went on to say there was a need to reform nursing homes in the state before another pandemic occurs, saying: 'They were only supposed to take patients if they could'. 

NYC creeps toward reopening: Restaurant capacity to rise to 35%, nursing homes to allow visitors again and 11 rapid testing sites open providing half-hour tests for $30 NYC creeps toward reopening: Restaurant capacity to rise to 35%, nursing homes to allow visitors again and 11 rapid testing sites open providing half-hour tests for $30 Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 08:56 Rating: 5

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.