New York state COVID-19 cases top 400,000, key indicators remain stable

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Confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. state of New York topped 400,000 on Friday, reaching 400,299 by Friday morning with a death toll of 32,307, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Once the epicenter of the pandemic, it took the Empire State two months to see COVID-19 cases surge from 1 to 300,000 in early May. Daily death toll once reached nearly 800 in early April, when hospitals statewide were scrambling to procure enough personal protective equipment and get more beds.

After months of efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus, New York now sees key indicators stable and continue to trend in the right direction, as dozens of other states are experiencing a resurgence of the pandemic.

The state reported eight COVID-19 deaths on Friday, and the positivity rate in COVID-19 testing was 1.06 on the day before, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo's office.

However, the governor urged residents to keep practicing "the behaviors that have successfully bent the curve" as an alarming spike in cases throughout the nation was reported.

Malls in the regions that have entered phase four of reopening with high-efficiency venting systems are allowed to reopen on Friday.

For better ventilation, malls have to ensure increased outdoor air, reduced air circulation, longer system run times and frequent filter checks, the governor said earlier this week.

The state on Friday also lifted the ban on nursing home visits, resuming limited visitations for facilities that have been without COVID-19 for at least 28 days.

Only 10 percent of residents at a facility can be allowed visitors at any time, with a limitation of two visitors at a time. The visitors must undergo temperature checks, wear face coverings, and socially distance during the visit, according to the state's Department of Health.

"With the knowledge we now have about how COVID-19 came into nursing homes -- mainly through asymptomatic staff and visitors through no fault of their own - it is critical that as we resume visitations to these facilities we do it in a smart and cautious way to ensure the health and safety of residents and staff," State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said in a press release.

Nursing homes were among the hardest-hit facilities in New York during the pandemic, as over 5,000 people have died in them due to COVID-19 across the state.

Governor Cuomo also announced on Friday that New York will send the COVID-19 medication Remdesivir to Florida as the latter has become a new hotspot of the pandemic with a dramatic increase of new cases and hospitalizations.

"When New York was climbing the COVID mountain with no end in sight and resources were scarce, we were incredibly moved by the generosity of states around the country that stepped up to provide supplies and medical personnel in our time of need," said Cuomo.

The governor said late June that some 60,000 healthcare workers from outside New York came to help the state when it was at the peak of the crisis, and the state would return the favor.

"Today, on behalf of all New Yorkers, we will deploy Remdesivir to help Florida care for patients as it waits for further supply from the federal government. We will stand by our fellow Americans every step of the way as our nation fights COVID-19 together," he added.

The supply will help Florida care for 280 COVID-19 patients until the federal shipment arrives, according to the governor's office. 

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