New York State is moving to relax its restrictions on visits to COVID-19 patients in state hospitals.
One of the most heartbreaking realities of the pandemic has been that thousands of families have been unable to visit loved ones fighting the deadly virus.
COVID-19 has been blamed for over 28,000 deaths in New York; the families of most of those victims have had to say goodbye over the phone or via a video call facilitated by hospital staff.
But with the state's virus data continuing to trend lower, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that the state would begin allowing visitors at 16 hospitals, nine of which are located in NYC, as part of a pilot program.
Visitors will be required to wear personal protective equipment and will be subject to temperature checks upon entry.
Gov. Cuomo also touted progress in the fight against the virus on Long Island. At the peak of the coronavirus outbreak, Long Island was enduring 100 deaths per day.
The governor said efforts to control the spread of the virus have reduced that number to 13 "as of today."
"If we didn't do what we did, that number of 100 per day would have gone up," Cuomo said. "Did it work? You bet it did."
Elective surgery and ambulatory care will again be permitted at hospitals in Nassau County, starting this week.
The governor added that people should not delay emergency care for fear of catching the novel coronavirus. State hospitals have implemented extraordinary precautions to ensure patients are safe from the virus.
"Denial is not a life strategy," Cuomo added. "If you have an issue, get it tested, get it resolved."
After the Western New York region began reopening Tuesday, Cuomo announced that a seventh state region, the Albany region, would enter Phase 1 on Wednesday after hiring the CDC-recommended number of COVID tracers.
The Albany region's reopening will leave just three state regions left out of Phase 1 of the state's reopening plan, New York City, Long Island and the Mid-Hudson (a group of counties just north of the city).
As of Tuesday morning there were 356,278 confirmed coronavirus cases in New York State.
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