New York upholds infection rate below 1% going on a month, businesses still held to account

FILE PHOTO: Scientists work in a lab testing COVID-19 samples at New York City’s health department, during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York
FILE PHOTO: Scientists work in a lab testing COVID-19 samples at New York City’s health department, during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York U.S., April 23, 2020. Picture taken April 23, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/

New York state continues to have the lowest COVID-19 infection rate in the United States, according to stats from Governor Andrew Cuomo, who nonetheless warned Monday that the threat of further spread remains.

The state has come a long way from the grim days of late March and early April, when New York was the epicenter of the health crisis and hundreds of lives were lost a day. Just two people died over the past 24 hours from COVID-19, and only 413 patients were hospitalized — with 115 of them in intensive care, and 57 on ventilators. 

Even so, Cuomo urged residents not to give up the disciplines of mask-wearing and social distancing in place over the past six months.

“Our numbers have continued to remain stable even as we reach new milestones in our phased, data-driven reopening,” Cuomo said. “As we close out this Labor Day Weekend, I urge everyone to remain smart so we can continue to celebrate our progress in the weeks and months ahead. It took the work of all of us to get here, and to protect this progress we will need to all continue to wash our hands, wear our masks, remain socially distant.”

The Cuomo administration is taking no chances with a potential spread in the bar and restaurant setting, holding out on allowing indoor dining even on a limit basis and issuing seven violations to establishments in New York City and Long Island who were not in compliance with standards.

In all, the State Liquor Authority and the State Police Task Force assigned to monitor the nightlife scene examined 1,064 businesses in these areas.

The announcement by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy to allow 25% capacity indoors ignited a fresh round of debate in the five boroughs with restaurant owners hoping to keep some cash flow going as the summer winds down and outdoor seating becomes less appealing.

Stephen Oliver, the co-owner of Chadwick’s restaurant in Bay Ridge, told Brooklyn Paper on Sept. 4 that he believed up to 80% of businesses would be shuttered permanently if a plan is not devised soon.

In Queens on Sept. 3, state Senator Jessica Ramos was still calling on the SLA to restore beer and liquor licenses to businesses that had been suspended for violations on the claim that immigrant enterprise in her district had been disproportionately impacted by heavy-handed enforcement. She hopes the state can offer a better alternative than forcing people out of work for violations, according to QNS.

But answers to the question of whether or not patron are ready to return to indoor dining was on display in Jersey City on Friday, particularly at bars and restaurants surrounding Grove Street’s nightlife district, popular for its open streets and outdoor dining options.

At Lucky 7 Tavern, just off the beaten path, a staff member told amNewYork Metro they had done all they could to make people feel safe inside the establishment with plastic curtains dividing booths and social distancing; still, patrons opted to sit outside.

At Franklin Social, which offers more of a restaurant setting, indoor seating was hard to come by with high wait times. Outdoor tables were at capacity as well.