New York governor threatens to roll back phased reopening
Crowds ignore coronavirus curbs as infections soar in other US states
NEW YORK: New York governor Andrew Cuomo threatened to roll back phased reopening plans after large crowds gathered outside bars in New York City in violation of coronavirus lockdown guidelines.
Mr Cuomo said his office had received 25,000 complaints of reopening violations by businesses as New Yorkers flocked to streets to enjoy a weekend of spring sunshine.
"Lots of violations of social distancing, parties in the street, restaurants and bars ignoring laws," he tweeted.
"Enforce the law or there will be state action," Mr Cuomo warned local authorities.
New York City, the epicentre of America's coronavirus outbreak, is in phase one of Mr Cuomo's four-phase reopening plan.
Restaurants and bars are allowed to offer takeaway food and drinks but are not permitted to offer outside seating until phase two, expected later this month.
Under social distancing guidelines, gatherings are meant to be capped at 10 people.
It is also illegal to drink alcohol in public places in New York.
The governor retweeted a video showing hundreds of people partying in a street in Manhattan's East Village on Friday evening with the words, "Don't make me come down there".
Covid-19 has killed almost 31,000 people in New York state, according to Johns Hopkins University.
On Sunday, Mr Cuomo reported that 23 state residents had succumbed to Covid-19 in the previous 24 hours, a new record low.
He also said total virus hospitalisations fell to 1,657, the lowest since March 20.
But the figures were spiking elsewhere in the US.
New cases and hospitalisations in record numbers swept through more US states, including Florida and Texas.
Alabama reported a record number of new cases for the fourth day in a row on Sunday.
Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma and South Carolina all had record numbers of new cases in the past three days, according to a Reuters tally.
Many state health officials attribute the increase partly to gatherings over the Memorial Day holiday weekend in late May.
In Louisiana, one of the earlier virus hot spots, new cases were again on the rise with over 1,200 - the most there since May 21.
The country as a whole continues to register around 20,000 new cases each day and is struggling to come down from that plateau as infection rates fluctuate in various parts.
Perhaps more troubling for health officials, many of these states are also seeing record hospitalisations - a metric not affected by increased testing.
Arkansas, North Carolina, Texas and Utah all had a record number of patients enter the hospital on Saturday. In South Carolina, 69 per cent to 77 per cent of hospital beds are occupied, depending on the region.
Most states are not considering a second shutdown as they face budget shortfalls and double-digit unemployment.
Many went ahead with reopenings before meeting government infection rate guidelines for doing so. - AFP, REUTERS