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New York governor says worst of pandemic 'is over'

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New York (AFP)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared Monday that the "worst is over" in the state's coronavirus pandemic, as he reported that the death toll there had passed 10,000.

Cuomo said lower average hospitalization rates and intubations suggested a "plateauing" of the epidemic and that he was working on a plan to gradually reopen the economy.

"I believe we can now start on the path to normalcy," Cuomo told reporters.

The governor announced that 671 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths in America's hardest-hit state to 10,056.

It was the lowest single-day toll in New York since April 5. The highest of 799 was reported on Thursday of last week.

"The worst is over if we continue to be smart going forward," said Cuomo, adding that he would speak to neighboring governors later on Monday to come up with a reopening plan.

He said a reopening would be gradual, could start with recalibrating who is an essential worker and would require an increase in testing to monitor infection rates.

"It's not going to be, we flip the switch, and everybody comes out of their house, gets in their car, waves and hugs each other, and the economy will start, Cuomo said.

"Do it carefully, do it slowly and do it intelligently," he added.

Cuomo encouraged New Yorkers to continue to follow social distancing guidelines, saying "two or three days of reckless behavior" could set the fight against the pandemic back.

New York state quickly became the epicenter of the United States' outbreak and accounts for almost half of the country's 22,150 deaths, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University.

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