‘Is this smart?’ Cuomo concerned protests will spread virus

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NEW YORK (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday he was concerned that mass protests over George Floyd’s death in New York City could imperil the long, hard fight to contain the coronavirus pandemic in a worldwide hotspot.

“You turn on the TV and you see these mass gatherings that could potentially be infecting hundreds and hundreds of people after everything that we have done,” Cuomo said at his daily briefing. “We have to take a minute and ask ourselves: ’What are we doing here?”

The Democratic governor said he agreed with demonstrators fighting racism and societal inequality. But he sounded frustrated about possibly compromising more than two months of social and economic sacrifices. New York City is set to begin phasing in economic activity June 8.

“It took us 93 days to get here. Is this smart?” he asked.

Although many demonstrators are young, they could be spreading the virus to their mothers, fathers and grandparents, Cuomo said.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed similar concerns at a separate briefing, saying: “For those who have made their presence felt, made their voices heard, the safest thing from this point is to stay home, obviously.”

Statewide hospitalization rates have been ticking down for weeks and the daily death toll has gone from almost 800 in early April to 54 on Sunday.

Other areas of the state have already begun phasing in economic activity. The Buffalo area is expected to be able to open retail shops, hair salons and offices Tuesday under its second phase of reopening, with the Albany area following on Wednesday, Cuomo said.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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