Houses of worship in Phase 4

Gov. Andrew Cuomo arrives for Monday’s update in Buffalo.

BUFFALO — Judges and staff will be returning to 30 upstate counties this week.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo also encouraged major sporting teams to reopen without fans, and the state will help.

Last week, New York required nursing homes to test staff twice per week. To help nursing homes with this requirement, the state is connecting facilities with labs that have reserved at least 35,000 tests a day just for this purpose. They are also sending 320,000 test kits to nursing homes statewide this week. Cuomo said he knows nursing home precautions are hard and the most aggressive in the country, but they are necessary.

“Whose in a nursing home?” he asked. “This is your mother, this is your father, your sister, your brother, our family.”

In other news, number of hospitalizations and new COVID cases is down. On Sunday there were 106 deaths — 83 in hospitals and 26 in nursing homes.

In response to questions about unemployment — and the frustration many are feeling about still not receiving their needed assistance and have run out of money, Cuomo official Melissa DeRosa said the state has given $9.2 billion to 2 million state residents.

But she acknowledged outstanding categories still exist, including those who submitted only partial information, or instances in which fraud is suspected.

“That’s doesn’t mean every single person has been cleared from the backlog,” she said. “It’s the majority of people have been cleared from the backlog, and the fact that now 2 million New Yorkers have been paid, and it aligns with the number of people who have filed.”

Those who haven’t received their checks now are the exception instead of the rule, she said.

Regarding questions about professional sports and tourism, Cuomo said “jam packed” is the question to be addressed. He said it’s the same situation with churches, libraries and similar locations.

“Anywhere where you have the concentration and the gatherings, that is the issue,” he said. “We made mistakes, so let’s not make the same mistake twice.”

He noted that the state’s first big coronavirus spread involved a person who attended a funeral service and afterward, infected dozens. He said the outbreaks in meatpacking facilities were similarly caused by large groups in close proximity.

Houses of worship would be included in Phase 4 of the state’s reopening, along with stadiums and similar venues — anywhere you have a lot of people together. It hasn’t been determined whether smaller-scale services or gatherings would be permitted.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1