New York orders new virus restrictions

Peter Szekely and Maria Caspani
·2-min read

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has imposed a new round of restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus as infection rates climb and hospitalisations again soar in the state.

Cuomo on Wednesday ordered bars, restaurants and gyms shut down on-premises services at 10 pm nightly and capped the number of people who could attend private parties at 10.

"We're seeing a national and global COVID surge and New York is a ship on the COVID tide," the governor told reporters.

He added that contact tracing identified late-night gatherings at bars, restaurants and gyms as key virus spreaders in the state.

The new measures, which take effect on Friday, come a day after California and several states across the Midwest tightened restrictions on residents to try to curb the rapid spread of the virus.

"This is our LAST chance to stop a second wave," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted on Wednesday, announcing the city-wide seven-day average rate of tests coming back positive had hit 2.52 per cent.

The city's public school system, the nation's largest, will be shut to in-person learning at 3 per cent.

As COVID-19 infections, hospitalisations and deaths surge across the United States, more signs emerged that a second wave could engulf areas of the Northeast, which had managed to bring the pandemic under control after being battered last spring.

The US as a whole reported more than 1450 deaths on Tuesday, the highest daily count since mid-August.

COVID-19 cases climbed for seven consecutive days to reach more than 136,000 as of late Tuesday, while hospitalisations crossed 60,000 for the first time since the pandemic began, threatening to overwhelm systems in many parts of the country.

In New Jersey, one of the early hotspots, a spike in cases in Newark prompted Mayor Ras Baraka to implement a mandatory curfew for certain areas.

The positivity rate in Newark hovered at 19 per cent, more than double the 7.74 per cent seven-day average, Baraka said. The World Health Organization says anything over 5 per cent is concerning.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on Monday announced restrictions similar to New York's in response to outbreaks among bartenders.

In Maryland, where the positivity rate stood at 5.6 per cent on Wednesday, more than 800 people were being treated at state hospitals, the state's highest daily count since April.

A record number of people died of COVID-19 in several Midwest and western states on Tuesday, including in Alaska, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

In Texas, El Paso has brought in 10 temporary refrigerated morgue trailers to contend with one of the worst COVID-19 spikes in the country.