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July 28, 2020 - 1:12pm

NY restricts travel, adds rules for bars & eateries, as several states' COVID-19 rates spike and NY's slows

From Rochester Regional Health today (July 28) regarding the latest information on the coronavirus pandemic, reopening, and travel restrictions in New York:

Travel Restrictions

As positive coronavirus cases spike around the country, travelers arriving to New York State from designated states will be met with restrictions, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s updated Executive Order. Gov. Cuomo added 10 more states to the list of states that will require travelers to quarantine for 14 days upon entering New York. 31 states in total are on the list as of July 21.

The new states added are: Alaska, Indiana, Delaware, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Virginia and Washington.

The quarantine applies to any person arriving from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average or a state with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average. Essential workers are excluded, as well as anyone returning to New York from a designated state in which the visit was for less than 24 hours.

"The last 137 days have been hell for New York as we were the epicenter of this pandemic,” Gov. Cuomo said. “However, New Yorkers stood as one, acted responsibly and—as many other states in this nation are now grappling with new spikes of this insidious virus—the beast, for now, has been brought to bay in this state.”

Newest Rules for Bars & Restaurants

All restaurants and bars in New York State can now only serve alcohol to people who are ordering and eating food, according to a new statewide requirement announced by Gov. Cuomo July 16. All service at bar tops must only be for seated patrons who are socially distanced by six feet or separated by physical barriers, and customers are prohibited from ordering directly from the bar.

To comply with the requirement, the New York State Liquor Authority say that bars and restaurants must sell sandwiches, soups or other foods, whether fresh, processed, precooked or frozen, to customers in order to sell them alcohol. Other foods can be salads, wings, or hotdogs. However, a bag of chips, bowl of nuts, or candy are not enough to satisfy the requirement.

Cases Spike in Florida, Arizona, Texas, California

Almost half of all states are spiking at a faster rate than they had been in the spring, according to a new USA TODAY study. Florida broke the single day record for positive cases with 15,300 new cases on July 11 and reported a record-high of new single-day COVID-19 deaths with 132. Arizona has seen nearly 40 percent of its total yearly cases occur in July alone with more than 50,000 positive cases since July 1. Texas reported 110 deaths and 10,791 new positive cases on July 15, its second straight day of record-high cases in the state and the sixth straight day of more than 10,000 active COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to The Hill

The full list of states on the New York State travel advisory is below:

  • Alaska
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

New York State Slows Spread

Hospitalizations in New York State have dropped below 700 for the first time since March, and the state recently reported its lowest three-day average death toll since March.  

A new study by “The Truth About Insurance” named New York the most responsible state in fighting COVID-19. “We've used data and science to drive this fight and fuel our reopening strategy, but make no mistake, this distinction is shared by every single New Yorker who did the right thing these last months, ignored the politics, socially distanced and wore a mask,” Gov. Cuomo said.

“But we can't stop now. We must remain disciplined and we must remain New York Tough. We've come too far to go back to where we were."

What Rochester Regional Health is Doing

Rochester Regional Health has implemented diligent processes in place to help team members comply with this new requirement. Employees who are currently traveling or plan to travel to any of the designated states are permitted to work upon their return, provided they follow a strict set of guidelines and processes.

Reopening Schools

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently released guidance for reopening schools in New York State. The guidance allows for regions in Phase 4 to reopen if the infection rate remains below 5 percent using a 14-day average. Schools will close if the regional infection rate rises above 9 percent, using a seven-day average. A summary of the full guiding principles created by the New York State Department of Health and can be read here.

Phase 4

Phase 4 has begun for the greater Rochester area and the Finger Lakes Region. Phase 4 allows businesses to reopen in the industries of art, education, recreation, and entertainment. Malls are also reopening, however, not all stores in malls are reopening immediately. Gyms, casinos, movie theaters, and amusement parks remain closed. Museums and aquariums are opening with proper safety protocols in place.

"Phase 4 presents the greatest risk because the amount of variation of facilities that are on the slate to reopen in Phase 4 is more than variable than in Phase 1 through 3," said Dr. Michael Mendoza, Monroe County public health commissioner. "So doing so in a measured, coordinated way will allow the health department to follow the data very close and make course corrections as needed because the last thing we want to do is set ourselves all the way back."

Indoor restaurants in all regions have opened with safety precautions, as well as nail salons, tattoo parlors and spas. Outdoor seating is allowed with outdoor tables spaced six feet apart, all staff must wear face coverings and customers must also wear face coverings when not seated.

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