NY Gov. Cuomo says the NYPD “needs to step up” in enforcing social distancing rules

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a daily briefing following the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Manhattan, New York City, New York, July 13, 2020.

Mike Segar | Reuters

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday urged the New York City Police Department to “step up” in enforcing social distancing rules on bars and restaurants as coronavirus hospitalizations in the state hit a new low.

New York conducted about 54,000 tests on Sunday and less than 1% returned positive for Covid-19, Cuomo said at a conference call with reporters. The state also hit new lows for the number of people being hospitalized, in intensive care and intubated, he said.

“We need to step up the NYPD,” he said, adding the state issued 19 violations to bars or restaurants on Sunday. “I understand that the sheriff’s office is useful and that’s good news. But the sheriff’s office is relatively small … NYPD is like 35,000 people. This is an enforcement problem.”

The United States has the worst outbreak in the world with more than 5 million cases and at least 162,900 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The state of New York, once the epicenter of coronavirus outbreaks in the US, now has one of the lowest rates of new cases in the nation.

Last month, Cuomo moved to New York City to return to the next phase of the opening, but he excluded indoor restaurants, bars, museums and shopping malls. At the moment, he warned that there is still a risk of a second wave of the virus, and residents claim to be awake.

On Friday, Cuomo announced that all school districts throughout the state were authorized to reopen the Heart Semester, including New York City, the nation’s largest school district.

Cuomo said Monday that he allows personal training to resume because plans for school districts do not allow students to be surrounded by “hundreds of people like you would be in a museum.”

In a museum or shopping center, “you walk past a continuous group of new people,” he said. The schools will “take protections, they are in an isolated place [and] in controlled conditions. ”

Cuomo requires school districts to provide details to the New York State Department of Health for distance learning, testing and tracking of contacts before reopening. Schools must also set up a minimum of three training sessions with parents to proceed with their plans. Larger school districts, however, need five sessions for parents, he said Friday.

“You can reopen if you have a smart plan,” he said Monday. “It’s much different than a museum because it’s a much more controlled circumstance.”