(Reuters) - States that are reopening their economies despite rising cases of the novel coronavirus are making a mistake, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday, urging that such decisions be based on facts and data rather than politics.
“You have states that are opening where you are still on the incline,” he told a daily briefing. “I think that’s a mistake.”
Cuomo also disclosed preliminary data from a survey of hospitals showing the vast majority of patients were above the age of 51 and had not used public transportation, among other findings that could play into how he looks to reopen the state.
Over the past few days Cuomo has started to outline the criteria for loosening restrictions on businesses in New York, after a three-week decline in hospitalizations and a downtrend in the daily death count. New York is the worst-hit state by far, with more than a third of the country’s 71,000 deaths.
He said 232 New Yorkers died on Tuesday from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, a tick higher than Monday but half the daily fatalities recorded two weeks ago. Hospitalizations fell by 421 to 9,179, the lowest since March 28, Cuomo said.
While the data was further evidence that New York had “turned a corner” in the fight against the coronavirus, new cases were increasing in the rest of the country, even as a majority of states have relaxed restrictions, Cuomo said.
“Yes, our line is going down, our number of cases is going down,” said Cuomo, who has yet to green light the reopening of any region of New York. “You take New York out of the national numbers, the numbers for the rest of the nation are going up.”
Cuomo disclosed data from 1,269 COVID-19 patients across 113 New York hospitals showing that most were neither employed nor users of the subway or other public transit, and, in a finding he called surprising, most were admitted from their own home.
The findings could raise questions about prior assumptions about who is being hit hardest by the virus, Cuomo said, noting that essential workers were not among those most frequently hospitalized and that 18 percent came from nursing homes, far less than the 66 percent admitted from their own homes.
The governor also stressed that there was lingering uncertainty about when the virus may have first appeared in the United States and warned that the death toll could be greater than what the current numbers showed.
“They are now saying that the virus may not have come just in February/March. The virus may have come late last year,” Cuomo said, adding that officials in Chicago were investigating whether people had died in November and December from COVID-19.
“I think it’s going to be worse when the final numbers are tallied,” he said.
reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut and Maria Caspani in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Steve Orlofsky