New York is expanding its testing facilities to the thousands of people who participated in recent George Floyd protests, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.
Floyd’s May 25 killing at the hands of Minneapolis police has sparked international demonstrations that have drawn tens of thousands of protesters in cities across the U.S. and Europe. Cuomo said the protests drew about 20,000 people in New York City alone and more across the state.
“You have 30,000 people who have been protesting statewide … Many of them wear masks, thank God, but there’s no social distancing. You look at the encounters with the police. The police are right in their face. They’re right in the face of the police,” Cuomo said at a news briefing. “If you were at a protest, go get a test please. The protesters have a civic duty here also. Be responsible, get a test.”
He added that people should wear masks and inform other people that they have been exposed to the coronavirus. “If you were at one of those protests, I would, out of an abundance of caution, assume that you’re infected and tell people,” he said.
Cuomo has previously warned New York residents that the mass protests could threaten the state’s reopening plan and progress in curbing the spread of the coronavirus.
The governor noted the possibility of an infection lag where it can take four to five days on average for symptoms to show. In serious cases, infected patients could be hospitalized in 8 to 12 days, Cuomo said.
The total number hospitalizations across New York continues to fall with 52 deaths on June 3, up slightly from Tuesday, Cuomo said.
While the course of the Covid-19 pandemic appears to have slowed, Cuomo emphasized the importance of staying vigilant as the state continues reopening in phases.
“We’re making great progress, but as fast as these numbers come down is as fast as those numbers go up,” he said.
As heated protests continue to shake Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs, New York City extended its curfew through the end of the week. The curfews take effect at 8 p.m. and will be lifted at 5 a.m. The city is still on track to begin “phase one” reopening on June 8.
“New York City had the highest number of protesters. We have to be smart. The protesters themselves could wind up causing the spike so we have to be smart,” he said.
The governor also added outdoor dining to “phase two” reopening guidelines. It must be an open-air dining space with tables spaced six feet apart. All staff are required to wear face coverings and customers must also wear face coverings when not seated.
As of Thursday, there are seven regions in “phase two” — the Capital Region, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Southern Tier and Western New York. Cuomo said Westchester, Rockland and the Hudson Valley will enter phase two next Tuesday and Long Island next Wednesday.
“Phase two” of reopening allows office-based workers, real estate services, in-store retail shopping and some barbershop services to resume.