US Open to be held without fans, says New York governor

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Serena Williams of the USA hits to Maria Sharapova of Russia (not pictured) in the first round on day one of the 2019 US Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York, USA, Aug 26, 2019.

The US Open will be held as scheduled in New York City from Aug 31 to Sept 13 without fans, said New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday.

The US Tennis Association (USTA) "will take extraordinary precautions to protect players and staff," said Cuomo on Twitter.

He noted that precaution measures will include robust testing, additional cleaning, extra locker room space, and dedicated housing and transportation.

The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, New York is home to the US Open with 12 courts in about 100,000 square feet of space.

It was converted into a temporary hospital facility with over 400 beds during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in April.

The decision came as major indicators of the pandemic keep trending down in the northeastern US state with more areas entering a new phase of reopening.

USTA Chief Executive Officer Mike Dowse said in a statement on Tuesday that the association is "incredibly excited" about Cuomo's decision.

"We recognize the tremendous responsibility of hosting one of the first global sporting events in these challenging times, and we will do so in the safest manner possible, mitigating all potential risks," he said.

Cuomo said at Tuesday's briefing that total hospitalizations across the state fell to 1,538, the lowest level since March 20. The three-day rolling average in daily COVID-19 deaths is at 24, also a record low.

The Western New York Region became the sixth in the state to enter phase three of reopening. Cuomo announced on Monday that gatherings of up to 25 people are allowed in phase three, up from the limit of 10.

Monday's COVID-19 testing results showed New York City had a positive rate of 1.2 percent, the lowest level in five days.

"The facts in New York are very, very good. I'm so proud of what the people in this state have done. We have made it over the mountain -- and we did it with a smart reopening," said Cuomo.

Another 631 COVID-19 cases were confirmed on Sunday, bringing the state's total to 384,575, according to the state government. 

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