Five regions of New York will enter the third phase of the economic reopening on Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday, as the state's progress on turning back the coronavirus continues to show gains.
The North Country, Central New York, Southern Tier, Finger Lakes, and Mohawk Valley regions will enter the next phase, as tens of thousands of tests statewide show an average infection rate of less than 2 percent.
The third phase will allow for in-restaurant service and more personal care businesses opening, though businesses must comply with limited occupancy, the use of personal protective equipment, and social distancing guidelines.
New York's reopening has shown a marked slowdown in the infection rate among people who have been tested for COVID-19. The death toll in the last 24 hours stood at 36 people, and hospitalizations continued to fall.
But in other states, infection rates have spiked as businesses have started to reopen.
"We are the exception and an outrageous exception," Cuomo said. "We, so far, have the exact opposite phenomenon. We reopen, the number continues to go down. How can that be? Our reopening is different than their reopening."
Cuomo credited New Yorkers with following social distancing efforts and wearing masks in public.
"We have done extraordinarily well, because the people in this state responded in a way that no one had predicted," Cuomo said. "But COVID is still out there."
Still, there are concerns. Cuomo has urged people who have attended protests against police brutality in recent weeks to receive coronavirus tests. The effect of those protests may not be known for weeks, Cuomo said.