Coronavirus hospitalizations in New York – once the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic – have dropped to their lowest number since March 18. The state had 743 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Friday, which was down 22 from the day before, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Saturday.
Cuomo commended New Yorkers for largely complying with measures put in place to control the virus.
"New Yorkers' vigilance, courage and adoption of basic behaviors — mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing — has driven our ability to control the virus, and we have to continue on that path to success," Cuomo said.
He noted that other states have been less successful in stemming the spread of COVID-19, and cautioned that a rise in cases elsewhere could have an impact on New York.
Florida topped 10,000 new daily cases for the tenth time on Friday, and intensive care units in eight of Miami-Dade County's 25 hospitals are full. Several counties in the state have issued curfews in an effort to discourage partying, one of the behaviors suspected of fueling the virus' rapid spread. South Beach, Miami, now has an 8 p.m. curfew.
"As New York continues to show progress combatting COVID-19 with low hospitalizations and a low rate of positive cases, we remain alarmed by spikes in much of the country and the risk of a lack of compliance at home as the state pursues a phased, data-driven reopening," Cuomo said Saturday.
The United States saw more than 70,000 new coronavirus cases in total for a second day in a row on Friday, with 71,600 new cases reported nationwide. Thursday saw an all-time daily high of 77,300 new confirmed cases, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.
In New York, 100 people remain intubated in hospitals and 172 are being treated in ICUs, according to data posted by the state's department of health.
Eleven people lost their lives to the disease on Friday. There have been 25,035 total deaths in New York due to the coronavirus since tracking began in March.
According to the governor, of the 69,817 tests conducted in New York State on Friday, 754, or 1.08%, came back positive.
New York City had a 1.3% positive infection rate, up from 1.2% on Wednesday. Cuomo announced Friday that the city has been cleared to enter its fourth and final phase of reopening on July 20, after shutting down four months ago.
Every other region of the state is currently in Phase 4.
Phase 4 permits low-risk outdoor activities and entertainment at 33% capacity, according to the governor. It also allows for media production, and professional sports to be played without fans present, but does permit any additional indoor activity like the reopening of malls or cultural institutions.
Rising coronavirus infections across dozens of states are threatening the U.S. economic recovery, forcing businesses and consumers to freeze spending, and keeping the unemployment rate stubbornly high.
"This is what we said from day one: Reopen smart," Cuomo said Friday.
"If you reopen smart and you reopen in phases, and you follow the data, it's actually a better way for the economy to reopen because if you rush the reopening then you risk the probability of a viral increase."
First published on July 18, 2020 / 12:30 PM
© 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.