NEW YORK (WABC) -- More businesses, including casinos and boardwalk amusement rides, reopened in New Jersey Thursday, ahead of the 4th of July holiday weekend.
Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says the city is developing multiple plans and contingencies for a safe return to school in the fall.
The mayor says 75% of parents surveyed want to send their kids back to school in September, and precautions being taken include daily deep cleaning of schools, face covering and social distancing requirements, and hand washing stations.
NEW YORK CITY
Mayor de Blasio also announced plans to dedicate 22 Open Streets to Open Restaurants starting this weekend. The program expands restaurant seating options onto car-free streets for select corridors throughout the five boroughs.
Alternate Side Parking will be suspended next week, through July 12, and the Staten Island Ferry will go back to pre-COVID rush hour service Monday, offering rides every 15 minutes between 7 a.m.-9 a.m. and 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. Addtionially, 20-minute service will be offered between 6 a.m. - 7 a.m. and 3:50 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.
The High Line will reopen to the public with limited capacity on July 16 after temporarily closing in March to help limit the spread of COVID-19. The High Line, working with NYC Parks, also issued visitation protocols to ensure that visitors can maintain social distancing in full accordance with city guidelines.
NEW YORK STATE
New York's hospitalizations and rate of positive tests remained at low levels Wednesday, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo saying hospitalizations remained under 900 for a fourth day in a row with 878 COVID-19 patients. Cuomo also announced 10 new deaths, down from 11 the day before.
Of the 69,945 tests conducted in New York Wednesday, 875, or 1.25%, were positive, bringing the statewide total to 394,954 confirmed cases.
Gov. Cuomo said state swimming pools can open for swimming over the 4th of July weekend. Pool-goers are asked to practice social distancing, respect the rules and keep the pool area safe for everyone. Pool capacity will be reduced and is expected to fill quickly.
Casinos, outdoor amusement parks and water parks, museums and libraries, indoor recreation and gyms and fitness centers for individualized training by appointment are reopening Thursday, with social distancing and face covering requirements in place.
Gov. Phil Murphy said the Community Contact Tracing Corps has added more than 130 additional contact tracers since last week, for a total of 357. Rutgers School of Public Health has invited 859 current local public health workers to be trained and more than 600 have completed their training.
Murphy signed an Executive Order raising the limit on crowd size for outdoor gatherings to 500 people, effective Friday. Limits on all indoor gatherings, which are 25% of capacity, but with a maximum of 100 people, remain unchanged.
He said indoor pools may reopen at 25% capacity with social distancing in place.
New Jersey reported 539 new positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 172,356. An additional 27 deaths brings the state toll to 13,251.
Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday that the state reported more than 11,000 COVID-19 tests on Wednesday and just 0.6% were positive. Connecticut administered more than 80,000 tests over the last week and the percent of positive cases was under 1% each day.
A federal lawsuit has been filed to make mail-in voting for the November election available to all eligible Connecticut voters during the coronavirus pandemic. Currently, an executive order signed by Democratic Gov. Lamont allows eligible voters to use absentee ballots in the Aug. 11 primary, but the governor's public health emergency expires on Sept. 9, before the general election.
Lamont said airline bookings into the state are down significantly since New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut issued a travel advisory for incoming travelers from 16 states that have a high positive test rate to undertake a 14-day quarantine.
COVID-19 CLUSTER LINKED TO NY HOUSE PARTY
Rockland County officials announced a coronavirus cluster Wednesday linked to a house party in West Nyack. Officials say there have been at least eight confirmed cases, with one test pending, in West Nyack and New City.
The patients are mainly among young adults in their 20s, who were connected to the party on June 17. Officials say the party host was already symptomatic, and since the initial party, there were at least two other parties with some common attendees.
COVID-19 IN NEW YORK CITY STARTED AS EARLY AS FEB: STUDY
A new study has shown evidence the coronavirus was circulating in New York City in the beginning of February. The research conducted by Mount Sinai found New Yorkers had antibodies to the virus as early as February 23.
That would mean they would have been infected with the virus about two weeks earlier. The first confirmed case was on March 1.
The new study has yet to undergo formal review, but experts say the work is credible and backs up what many believed.
The U.S. is "going in the wrong direction" with the coronavirus surging badly enough that Dr. Anthony Fauci told senators Tuesday some regions are putting the entire country at risk - just as schools and colleges are wrestling with how to safely reopen.
With about 40,000 new cases being reported a day, Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, said he "would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around."
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