Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo arrived to his daily coronavirus briefing in Albany, N.Y., on Saturday with cautionary good news: The state has continued to make progress in its battle with a virus that has killed more than 13,000 residents, enough people to populate an upstate small city.
“If you look at the past three days, you could argue we are past the plateau and starting to descend,” Mr. Cuomo said. “So, we’re not at the plateau anymore, but we’re still not in a good position.”
Mr. Cuomo announced the state’s daily death toll from the virus had fallen to 540, down from 630 a day earlier. It was the lowest daily number in more than two weeks.
Still, he warned that the health crisis was far from over. On Friday alone, about 2,000 people were admitted to city hospitals with Covid-19 symptoms, a number similar to what hospitals were seeing as the pandemic began to peak in late March.
“If it wasn’t for the relative context we’ve been in, this would be devastating news,” Mr. Cuomo said.
The number of people needing ventilators to breathe also decreased, “which is very good news,” the governor said.
“Doctors will tell you that the emergency rooms have fewer people in them,” Mr. Cuomo said. “They were at max capacity for a long time.”
The death toll included 504 people who had died in city hospitals and 36 others in nursing homes, which have come under scrutiny for not offering transparency to government officials and families of victims. The homes have struggled with testing and a lack of staffing.
“Nursing homes are the single biggest fear in all of this,” the governor said. “Vulnerable people in one place — it is the feeding frenzy for this virus, despite everything we can do and the best efforts of people working in those nursing homes.”
Noticeably subdued, Mr. Cuomo on Saturday shied away from conflict with President Trump a day after the two leaders traded barbs over federal aid for the state. The governor underscored the need to work with the Trump administration to implement the widespread testing necessary to reopen New York’s economy.
“In the midst of this, there is no time for politics,” Mr. Cuomo said. “How does this situation get worse and get worse quickly? If you politicize all that emotion. We cannot go there.”
He added: “I’m not asking the federal government to do more than they need to. But we do need their coordination. We need their partnership.”
New Jersey’s long-term care facilities have been hit hard by the virus.
Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey said on Saturday that an additional 231 people had died of the coronavirus, pushing the state’s total to 4,070. More than 40 percent of those deaths have been at long-term care facilities.
Judith Persichilli, commissioner for the state’s Department of Health, said there had been 1,655 virus-related deaths in the facilities, which have struggled to combat the virus because of a lack of staffing, testing and protective equipment.
Ms. Persichilli said that surveyors from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid had completed their review of the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center in Andover, N.J., where 17 bodies were found inside a small morgue intended to hold no more than four people.
The owner has been issued numerous citations and has been asked to come up with a correction plan, she said.
The number of total coronavirus cases in New Jersey rose to over 81,420, with 3,026 new cases reported on Saturday. But Mr. Murphy said a three-week review of the statistics showed there has been a plateau in some metrics.
The numbers of new cases and hospitalizations were leveling off, and the number of people in intensive care or critical condition had remained stable, he said.
“We are flattening the curve,” Mr. Murphy said.
Among the dead mentioned by the governor — a ritual he has included in his daily briefings — were Alex Ruperto, a 52-year-old Union City police detective from Glen Ridge; Herbert Heaney, who worked as a forensic scientist with the New Jersey State Police; and Richard Campbell, the Edison fire captain.
Can new romances bloom with virtual dating?
As New Yorkers’ love lives adjust to a new normal, virtual dating platforms are quickly pivoting to help quarantined singles. New apps that function like online parties have emerged, and networking events and existing dating apps are tacking on video features and virtual speed dating rounds.
Beckett Mufson, a 27-year-old advertising executive, fled New York City in mid-March to live on a farm upstate. But he was still interested in finding potential partners.
So he tried a virtual gathering hosted by Here/Now, an initiative for hetero, queer, and nonbinary daters. Like other apps, it previously centered around public meet-ups, but recently pivoted to remote video events during the pandemic.
For the hourlong virtual gathering, Mr. Mufson and 11 other singles got to know each other by answering personal questions: If you could build a dream house, which weird or interesting feature would you include? What is one item that means the most to you?
The singles talked as a large group before breaking into smaller conversations of four. Then, they moved on to one-on-one chats.
Afterward, the participants filled out a survey to indicate whom they were interested in. Matches were notified.
“It is an entirely possible scenario that this is how we might start, maintain, and end relationships over the next few months, or even a year,” Mr. Mufson said. “We have to consider that our first one-on-one date might be on Zoom. The first time we have sex might be on Zoom.”
And for those who want to take their online love lives to the next level: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York announced he was issuing an executive order that would allow residents to obtain a marriage license remotely and permit online ceremonies.
When asked what people should do about marriage bureaus on Saturday, he responded jokingly: “Marriage bureaus? I think the divorce rate is going up.”
Over the past four weeks, about 22 million workers filed jobless claims, including about 1.2 million New Yorkers.
Unemployment systems, some of which rely on an antiquated computer programming language, were not built for such a rush of claimants. They also were not built for a new class of workers — independent contractors and the self-employed — who are now eligible for assistance during the pandemic.
In New York, the results have been maddening. Many people have had their online applications crash before they could hit submit, requiring them to start from scratch.
They have endured hourslong wait times only to get randomly disconnected, or be connected with representatives who say they cannot fix their issues.
Carly Keohane, who lost her waitressing job in Rochester, N.Y., has been waiting a month to receive $2,124 in unemployment payments as a direct deposit into her bank account.
But the state instead told her that the money had been deposited on a state-issued debit card, which she never received. Ms. Keohane, 31, said she could not get anyone on the phone to find out where it is.
Speaking on Thursday, the secretary to Governor Cuomo, Melissa DeRosa, said the state had been staggering under the weight of the claims for unemployment insurance.
“We are going to continue doing everything we can to bring the system up to deal with this scale,” she said.
From surgeon-quality personal protection to the home-stitched square and the bandit’s bandanna, New Yorkers pulled on a newly essential accessory and ventured into a landscape that changed yet again on Friday with the mandated wearing of masks in public.
The new rule, which took effect at 8 p.m. Friday, would be striking anywhere, but more so in New York City, where teeming crowds and if-I-can-make-it-there chutzpah are baked into the national imagination.
“This is just the next step,” said a retired corrections officer, Stanley Woo, 63, sitting down to play chess in a park in Forest Hills, Queens, with his old friends and his new mask.
“Nobody likes it, but we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do,” said Amanda Neville, 43, inside her wine store, Tipsy, in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.
The measure was intended to further flatten the curve of new coronavirus infections in New York, which has had more than 13,300 deaths because of the virus and more than 236,000 confirmed cases.
Governor Cuomo said on Saturday at his daily briefing that he was following his own guidelines. On Friday night, he said, he began wearing a face mask when taking his dogCaptain for a stroll.
“When I am in public and I’m walking the dog on the street and I cannot main social distancing, I am wearing a mask,” Mr. Cuomo told reporters. “I think this is a small inconvenience that has a tremendous benefit for people.”
Captain, a Siberian-shepherd mix, “doesn’t wear a mask,” he said, because he “is not violating anything.”
New York is not the only state to make face coverings mandatory: Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are requiring that masks be worn in stores; likewise in Los Angeles and some surrounding California counties. New York’s order is the most expansive, requiring face coverings anywhere in the state where two people might come within two yards of each other, though for now there is no fine for disobeying.
N.Y.C. schools report 84 percent attendance rate for virtual learning.
New York City’s abrupt switch to remote learning last month created myriad challenges for the nation’s largest school system. One of the thorniest issues was how to take attendance for 1.1 million public school students who were suddenly at home.
On Friday, the Department of Education provided initial data indicating that most students were still interacting with school: About 84 percent of students signed on in some way during the first week of April. Average daily attendance before the coronavirus pandemic was around 92 percent.
Each of the city’s 1,800 schools have created their own attendance plans, meaning that being marked “present” could include participating at live instruction at one school, and answering a brief question every morning at another school. Attendance during remote learning was higher for younger children, who are typically supervised by parents during the day, and lower for high school students.
About 20 percent of city schools, including some large high schools, have not yet reported their attendance data. The city will release attendance weekly.
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Reporting was contributed by Maria Cramer, Melina Delkic, Matthew Haag, Alyson Krueger, Edgar Sandoval, Eliza Shapiro and Michael Wilson.