Cuomo addresses reopening results, religious gatherings & reimagining education

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Wednesday coronavirus briefing

ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - Parts of New York state have been open since Friday and so far, so good.

At Gov. Andrew Como’s coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, state officials say they’ve been keeping a close eye on things like infection rates since some regions reopened.

“On the data that has come in so far, we haven’t seen any increases,” the governor said in the wide-ranging briefing. Watch the full briefing in the video above.

State officials say there have been some slight upticks in some numbers, but nothing alarming.

“You’ll see a day-to-day bounce, but we have not seen anything significant anywhere that is worth mentioning,” Cuomo said.

As far as statewide numbers go – hospitalizations, infection rates, and intubations – things continue to trend downward.

Although overall the rates of COVID-19 deaths is down, the daily number jumped a little from 105 on Monday to 112 on Tuesday.

“The overall direction is right, but this is a painful, painful, tragic number of lives lost.”

Religious gatherings

Public gatherings such as religious ceremonies are part of the fourth phase of reopening but as of right now, he said, religious institutions can hold gatherings of no more than 10 people.

And those 10 have to follow guidelines of mask-wearing and social distancing.

The governor said he encourages drive-in and parking lot gatherings, which many churches have already been doing.

He said he is working with an interfaith advisory council to develop plans for reopening religious institutions.

“I think at this time of stress, when people are so anxious and so confused, I think those religious ceremonies can be very comforting.”

Reimagining education

The governor has championed reimagining education in the state because of the pandemic, which forced teachers and students to go online.

Cuomo has said educators need to focus more on distance learning, which came under fire from teachers’ unions and other organizations that thought he was advocating a path away from in-school instruction.

He said Wednesday he agreed that there was no substitute for classroom teaching, but it’s important to learn lessons from the pandemic when educational institutions were unprepared for remote learning.

Students didn’t have the right equipment, he said, parents didn’t know how to help, and many households don’t have reliable internet. Now, he said, is a good time to prepare for the future.

“If you assume this is the last time something like this is going to happen, I think that’s a foolish assumption,” he said.

“The world is full of surprises now and I think this was an eye-opener for all of us.”

Wear A Mask contest

The governor also announced the five finalists in a statewide contest to create a public service announcement promoting the use of face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The effort has been spearheaded by his daughter, Mariah Kennedy Cuomo, who showed the five entries during the briefing.

Voting ends on May 25. The winner will be announced May 26.

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