ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — In another step toward reopening its economy going into the summer, New York will allow horse racing tracks and Watkins Glen International car track to reopen with the coronavirus outbreak easing, Gov. Andrew Coumo said on Saturday.
But the Democrat was quick to add a caveat: “No crowds. No fans.”
At his daily briefing, Coumo said he could even envision a return of Major League Baseball in New York, also without fans. “If it works economically, that would be great,” he said.
Cuomo also announced that residents of suburban Westchester and Suffolk counties -- two of the nation’s early hotspots — will again be eligible for elective surgeries and ambulatory care.
“There was a period where hospitals were dealing basically with COVID patients," he said. "We are past that period. If you need medical attention, if you need a medical procedure, you should get it.”
The announcements came as hospitalizations, new cases and deaths across the country’s hardest-hit state have continued to flatten or tick down, he said.
There were 157 deaths reported since Friday, encouraging news compared to early April when the daily death toll was topping 700. The state’s overall toll now stands at nearly 22,500.
But Cuomo cautioned that the state could see a rise in cases as the economy opens up. To avoid another spike, people will still need to take precautions like social distancing, he said.
“People are going to be coming out of their homes,” he said. “How do they act when they come out? … If people are smart you will see some increase in numbers, but you won’t see a spike.”
The first person to die in New Jersey from the new coronavirus disease was a longtime fixture in the harness racing industry. His death in March prompted the closure of Yonkers Raceway, a harness racing track near New York City.
Other coronavirus-related developments in New York state:
INFECTED BARBER DEFIANT OVER LOCKDOWN BREACH
Authorities are investigating an upstate New York barber who contracted COVID-19 after he kept cutting hair in violation of a lockdown order.
The officials in Ulster County sent out a notice earlier this week warning customers of La Lima Barbershop in the city of Kingston should contact their doctors.
A March 21 order sought to halt all services like manicures and haircuts. But shop owner Joseph LaLima kept working in his residence in the rear of his business.
The order “said you can work from home,” a defiant LaLima told The New York Times after a four-day hospital stay. The shop’s address, he added, “is my home!”
The Ulster County district attorney’s office is investigating whether LaLima violated public health laws, the Times said.
FEWER POLICE OFFICERS OUT SICK
The number of New York Police Department officers calling in sick during the coronavirus pandemic has hit a new low.
On Friday, 1,157 uniformed officers were out sick, representing 3.2 percent of the patrol force at the nation’s largest police department. Officials said that’s about the same average sick rate as before the virus outbreak.
The number of officers out sick hit a high in April of 7,155 or 19.8 percent.
So far, 5,552 members of the NYPD have tested positive for coronavirus, with 5,305 recovering and returning to work. There have been 42 deaths.