Gov. Cuomo Just Issued This Eerie Reminder Ahead of July 4th Weekend
"As we are getting ready to celebrate the Fourth of July, we must remember all the sacrifices [we] made."
Coronavirus is on the rise in 80 percent of U.S. states, which means this July 4th weekend, health experts and government officials are urging Americans to stay home and avoid mixing with other households. Arguably, no one knows the importance of that more than New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose state was once the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, New York is seeing infection rates and hospitalizations decline, which has led the governor to reopen slowly. And for Independence Day, the state's outdoor pools are opening up. But before Empire State residents head out to splash around, Cuomo left them with this grim reminder on Thursday at a press conference, ahead of July 4th weekend: "The virus does not take a holiday."
Here's what Cuomo said about the holiday weekend in full:
As we are getting ready to celebrate the Fourth of July, we must remember all the sacrifices New Yorkers have made to flatten the curve of the pandemic and be cautious in everything we do. The virus does not take a holiday, and so I urge New Yorkers who are visiting swimming pools to follow all the social distancing guidelines in effect to protect themselves and each other. When you're not in a pool, wear a mask if you can't socially distance. The bottom line is be vigilant and stay safe while enjoying some time outside.
Though New York's coronavirus numbers are still devastating—395,872 total COVID-19 cases and 24,885 deaths, as of July 3—the state has come a long way. For example, there were nine deaths in New York on July 2, a far cry from the state's peak at nearly 800 deaths per day in early April.
While things certainly look much improved in New York, Cuomo is still proceeding with caution. The governor is mandating public pools to follow certain guidelines including having guests sign in for contact tracing purposes, limiting capacity to 50 percent, keeping all seating (lounge chairs, benches, and tables) 10 feet apart, mandating face coverings when inside or when social distancing isn't possible, and limiting groups to under 10 people.
Pool themselves are actually relatively low-risk in terms of COVID-19 transmission, mainly because chlorine kills the virus. "The pool itself isn't a risk—it's the people around the pool and the interactions around the pool," Thomas Russo, MD, chief of the division of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo, previously told Best Life. "If you see that people are not going to be wearing masks, are not going to be distancing, I wouldn't touch that scenario."
On Friday, Cuomo updated New Yorkers on the current COVID-19 numbers and again warned them to be cautious on the Fourth of July. "New York continues to make progress combatting the scourge of COVID-19, even as we see heavily increasing infections in other states … The more than 900 new cases in New York yesterday, while representing just 1.38 percent of tests, is a reminder that the virus is still here," he said. "I cannot repeat enough that our actions today—those of individuals being smart and following all precautions, and local governments enforcing the state's guidelines—will determine which direction these numbers go." And for states that are in desperate situations, check out These 6 States Are Now in "Critical" COVID-19 Situations, Experts Say.