ALBANY (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is allowing more people inside museums, movie theaters and indoor sports arenas as the latest data suggests the state’s vaccination campaign is curbing COVID-19 infection levels.
The state recorded just under 43,000 new cases in the seven-day period that ended Sunday. That’s the lowest number for any seven-day stretch since Thanksgiving and down 25% since the last days in March.
“The numbers are stable and going down so we can start to open up more economic activity,” Cuomo said.
Hospitalizations are also slowly dropping. Hospitals across New York reported about 3,800 patients with COVID-19 as of Sunday, down 14% from two weeks prior.
Museums and zoos in New York can open up their doors to 50% of their normal capacity starting Monday, while movie theaters will expand to one-third of normal capacity.
On May 19, large indoor arenas with more than 10,000 seats can increase their capacity to 25%, up from the current 10% limit.
And the state’s chief judge ordered all judges and court staff to physically return to work in their assigned courthouses by May 24, a change that may help deal with a backlog of postponed trials.
New York had recorded among the nation’s highest levels of infections and hospitalizations in recent months and still ranks in the top third for most infections per capita.
The state has made great progress in vaccinations in recent weeks, but the majority of New Yorkers are still not protected. About 5.5 million of its roughly 19 million residents are fully vaccinated.
Some public health experts have worried that New York has been easing COVID-19 restrictions on indoor dining and gatherings too quickly. There are still hotspots for the virus. Hospitals in western New York reported 346 coronavirus patients as of Saturday, up from as low as 137 in mid-March.
State health officials haven’t offered any reason for the uptick in western New York, though Cuomo put the blame on human behavior.
“We don’t believe there’s anything that accounts for that than the variant in human behavior and the precautions people take,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo said his administration is not considering imposing restrictions again in western New York.
“But we do have to get it under control,” he added.