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New York governor Cuomo says the NYPD must step up enforcement of social distancing guidelines

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

Mike Segar | Reuters

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday called on New York Police Department to "step up" enforcement of social distancing rules in bars and restaurants as coronavirus hospital stays hit a new low.

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

"We need the NYPD to step up," he said, adding that the state imposed 19 bar or restaurant violations on Sunday. "I understand the sheriff's office is helpful, and that's good news. But the sheriff's office is relatively small … NYPD has about 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 Johns Hopkins University. New York State, once the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, now has one of the lowest new cases in the nation.

Last month, Cuomo granted New York City for the next stage of reopening, but excluded restaurants, bars, museums, and malls. At the time, he warned that there was still a risk of a second wave of the virus and urged residents to be vigilant.

On Friday, Cuomo announced that all school districts across the state had been allowed to reopen for the fall semester, including New York City, the largest school district in the country.

Cuomo said Monday that he will allow the resumption of personal education because school district planning does not allow students to be "surrounded by hundreds of people like you would in a museum".

In a museum or mall, "you walk past a permanent group of new people," he said. Schools will "take protective measures, they are in an isolated place (and) under controlled circumstances".

Cuomo urges school districts to provide the New York State Department of Health with details of remote learning, testing, and contact tracing prior to reopening. Schools must also set up at least three classes with parents to go through their plans. However, larger school districts will require five sessions for parents, he said on Friday.

"You can reopen if you have a smart plan," he said Monday. "It's a lot different from a museum because it's a much more controlled circumstance."

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