Gov. Cuomo: ‘Wearing a mask is of tremendous consequence,’ small religious services allowed

Coronavirus

ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo returned to Albany for his daily briefing Wednesday, the same day the Capital Region began phase one of reopening under the state guidelines

The governor announced that 112 New Yorkers died Tuesday from COVID-19 as the statewide death toll from the virus approaches 23,000 to date. He added that hospitalizations and new confirmed cases continue to trend downward.

The governor says the state has looked into more testing data regarding communities of color.

“We found about 27% of individuals testing positive,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The data shows not just a high positive, but the spread is continuing in those communities and that’s where the new cases are coming from and you can literally do that on a zip code basis.”

The governor says the higher infection rates are caused by people not social distancing and not wearing personal protective equipment like masks and gloves.

“I’ve been all across the state, you drive through some of these communities and you can see that social distancing isn’t happening, PPE is not being used, and hence the virus spreads,” Gov. Cuomo said. “It is going to be true in every community across this state and across this nation. You tell me the zip codes that have the predominately minority communities, low income communities, I will tell you where you will have higher positives, increased spread, and increased hospitalizations.”

The governor said religious ceremonies still need to be treated as gatherings, to which he expressed caution.

“I understand their desire to get back to religious ceremonies as soon as possible,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Even at this time of stress and when people are so anxious and confused I think those religious ceremonies can be very comforting, but I think we need to do it safely and smartly.”

The governor announced new regulations for religious ceremonies:

The governor stressed that one of the best defenses New Yorkers have in stopping the spread is to simply wear a mask while in public.

“The mask works. Those surgical masks work and it’s in the data,” Gov. Cuomo said. “It’s not that I’m saying it, it’s in the data, otherwise it’s inexplicable. “Wearing a mask is of tremendous consequence. I’m not a public health expert, but look at the facts. Medical workers, wearing masks, have a lower infection rate.”

To help encourage New Yorkers to wear masks while in public, the state launched a user-submitted ad campaign. After more than 600 entries, five finalists, and some honorable mentions were named finalists. New Yorkers can vote on the winners here. Here’s one of the finalists:

“Don’t Be That Guy”

As new daily cases and hospitalization rates continue to decline across New York, Cuomo said Tuesday that the state is looking into lifting some visitor restrictions in hospitals.

“This is getting visitors back into hospitals with the right precautions, with the right equipment,” Gov. Cuomo said. “This is a pilot project to see if we can bring visitors in and do it safely.”

Also on Tuesday, Monroe County Executive Adam Bello joined Rep. Joe Morelle to publicly call on the federal government to pass legislation that would help state and local governments address revenue shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic

Locally, there are now 178 COVID-19 deaths in Monroe County. To date, officials report 2,363 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Monroe County, including 96 new cases since 24 hours prior.

MORE | COVID-19 county by county: Keeping track of local cases throughout the region

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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