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Coronavirus deaths down in NY, but Cuomo urges precautions

A cyclist crosses a deserted 7th Ave in Times Square during the outbreak of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 26, 2020.
A cyclist crosses a deserted 7th Ave in Times Square during the outbreak of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 26, 2020. © Carlo Allegri, Reuters

The coronavirus death toll in New York dropped again, a sign that Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday means the state is “on the other side of the plateau" and that ongoing social distancing practices are working to stem the spread of the virus.

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Cuomo said 507 people died on Saturday, down 43 from the previous day. Hospitalisations and other medical indicators are trending downward.

But Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio maintained their warnings that people in New York City and the rest of the state need to stay vigilant to curb the spread of the virus.

“We showed that we can control the beast and when you close down, you can actually slow that infection rate, but this is only halftime,” Cuomo said Sunday at a briefing. We still have to make sure that we keep that beast under control, we keep that infection rate down, we keep that hospitalisation rate down as we all get very eager to get on with life and move on.”

The drop in the death toll in New York reported Sunday prompted Cuomo to say, “We are on the other side of the plateau.”

But both Cuomo and de Blasio said the crisis is far from over, cautioning that the temptation for cooped-up New Yorkers to take advantage of the spring weather presents new challenges to keep the outbreak in check.

Police and park officers will be out in force to break up outdoor gatherings that pose a risk, with violators facing potential fines of up to $1,000, the mayor said. The city is encouraging people to text authorities photos when they spot the gatherings.

“We do not want to see this disease boomerang,” he said. “We do not want to see it come back with a vengeance.”

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with underlying health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

For his part, De Blasio had harsh words for Donald Trump, accusing the president of betraying his fellow New Yorkers by failing to push for billions of dollars in additional federal aid needed to help the city deal with the coronavirus economic crisis, de Blasio said Sunday.

The mayor had harsh words for the Queens-born president, claiming both he and Vice President Mike Pence have ignored his overtures on the stimulus funds. 

“Right now you are failing to protect the very people you grew up around," de Blasio said of Trump. "When New York City is in need, where are you?”

De Blasio even referenced an famous New York Daily News headline - “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD” - from 1975 when then-President Gerald Ford denied assistance to spare New York from bankruptcy.

“Are you going to save New York City,” the mayor said, “or are you saying to New York City ’drop dead?”

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

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