(CNN)Coronavirus infection and hospitalization rates in New York are down to where they were nearly two months ago, and parts of the state will be able to reopen on Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.In the past day, 488 coronavirus patients were admitted to hospitals, similar to the state total from March 19, “before we went into the abyss of the Covid virus.” In addition, 161 people died over the past day, near the same level of deaths as on March 26.”In many ways, we’re on the other side of the mountain,” he said.As such, parts of rural upstate New York will be able to reopen on Friday when the state’s shutdown order expires. Cuomo has said that regions can reopen if they hit seven specific criteria, including 14-day declines in hospitalizations and deaths, hospital bed availability, testing capacity and contact tracing. New York City has hit just four of the seven metrics to reopen.New York has been the epicenter of America’s coronavirus outbreak and has had more confirmed coronavirus deaths, nearly 27,000, than all but a few countries. At the peak of the state’s outbreak, more than 750 people died every day from April 7 to April 11, and the decline since then has been “painfully slow,” Cuomo said last week.Cuomo emphasized that the reopening will be done “intelligently” and contrasted his reopening plan with that of other states that are reopening despite not hitting the CDC’s guidelines to do so.
Why state reopenings have sent projected coronavirus death rates back upIndeed, a leading model increased its US coronavirus death toll projection again as governors continue lifting measures toward a reopening.The model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington now forecasts more than 137,000 Americans will die by early August, up from its previous forecast of 134,000 deaths.That rise is largely due to Americans moving around more, IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray said in a news release, adding that in some places the upward trend in movement began before statewide measures were relaxed. Researchers tracked that movement through anonymous cell phone data, according to the release.”Unless and until we see accelerated testing, contact tracing, isolating people who test positive, and widespread use of masks in public, there is a significant likelihood of new infections,” Murray said in the release.
States move toward reopening
States began setting reopening plans inlate April — with governors in South Carolina and Georgia leading the way with some of the most aggressive plans — and by this week, nearly every state has begun relaxing restrictions.Despite not meeting guidelines put forth by the federal government, states laid out phased reopenings they said were guided by data and the advice of medical experts. But other public health officials gave dire warnings about the thousands of lives that could be lost with a premature relaxing of measures.And the public remains torn as well: A Pew Research Center poll showed nearly two-thirds of Americans said they were concerned about their state opening too early. But thousands of people across the country protested in recent weeks for their right to go back to work.So far, more than 1.3 million Americans have been infected and nearly 80,000 have died, both more than any other country has reported, according to Johns Hopkins University.What might come after the reopenings won’t be apparent for weeks. One expert told CNN it will be at least two to three weeks before states may begin seeing increased infections.That increased movement could be seen in a photo posted Saturday by Dr. Ethan Weiss showing a packed United flight with every seat taken.On Sunday, TSA agents screened 200,815 passengers — 8% of the total from a year ago, according to TSA.That’s up from 128,875 passengers on Sunday, April 26.“I guess @united is relaxing their social distancing policy these days? Every seat full on this 737,” Dr. Ethan Weiss said in a tweet on Saturday.
The strange illness that could be linked to the virus
In New York, health officials are now looking at a mysterious illness that’s showing up in children they believe may be linked to the virus.The condition, which doctors refer to as “pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome,” left dozens of New York children hospitalized, many of whom tested positive for the virus or had its antibodies, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Everything you need to know about a mysterious illness that could be linked to coronavirus in childrenOn Sunday, the governor said state officials were investigating 85 cases, mostly toddlers and elementary school-aged children.Many of the children had fever and symptoms similar to toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki disease, which causes inflammation in the walls of blood vessels, including those that supply blood to the heart. In rare cases, it can lead to deadly limitations in blood flow.Similar cases have been reported internationally, including in the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy.Though the coronavirus most severely affects elderly people with pre-existing conditions, the children’s cases suggest that no age group is immune and raises new questions about how to safely reopen schools in the fall.
A battle over coronavirus checkpoints
In South Dakota, a Native American community set up checkpoints along state and US highways in efforts to track the virus and stop it from spreading.South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem sent letters Friday to leaders of the Oglala Sioux and the Cheyenne River Sioux tribes demanding the checkpoints be taken down.
South Dakota Sioux tribe refuses to take down checkpoints that governor says are illegalIn a Sunday update, Noem’s office warned if the checkpoints “don’t come down, the state will take the matter to federal court.”But the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe is refusing to take them down, and the tribe’s chairman, Harold Frazier, told CNN the community wants to ensure people coming from highly infected areas go around the tribal lands.”With the lack of resources we have medically, this is our best tool we have right now to try to prevent (the spread of Covid-19),” Frazier told CNN.The 12,000 people who live on the reservation, Frazier said, rely on an eight-bed facility and have no intensive care unit (ICU). About 198 Native Americans in South Dakota have been infected with the virus, according to state data.
The cases in the White House
Meanwhile, top health and federal government officials have come in contact with people infected with the virus — and some have announced they’ll be going into quarantine.
White House Covid cases contradict Trump’s message on openingDr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, told CNN he would be going in a “modified quarantine” after coming in contact with a White House staffer who tested positive for the virus.CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield and Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, will also go into quarantine after coming into contact with a person who tested positive for the coronavirus.Officials will not identify the person to whom Hahn or Redfield were exposed.The White House confirmed Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller tested positive on Friday. She was often in White House coronavirus task force meetings.
By Christina Maxouris and Eric Levenson
CNN’s Holly Yan, Elizabeth Joseph, Sara Sidner, Leslie Perrot, Artemis Moshtaghian and Susannah Cullinane contributed to this report.