NEW YORK: New York’s governor declared on Monday that the “worst is over” for its coronavirus outbreak providing the state moves sensibly, despite reporting its death toll had passed 10,000.

Andrew Cuomo said lower average hospitalisation rates and intubations suggested a “plateauing” of the epidemic and that he was working on a plan to gradually reopen the economy.

“I believe we can now start on the path to normalcy,” Cuomo told reporters, warning though that the outbreak could get worse again if confinement measures are lifted too quickly.

The governor announced that 671 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths in America’s hardest-hit state to 10,056.

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It was the lowest single-day toll in New York since Apr 5. The highest of 799 was reported on Thursday of last week.

“The worst is over if we continue to be smart going forward,” said Cuomo, adding that he would speak to neighboring governors later on Monday to come up with a reopening plan.

He promised an announcement later in the day after speaking to his counterparts in New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

He said a reopening would be gradual, would involve easing isolation measures and could start with recalibrating who is an essential worker.

It would also require an increase in testing to monitor infection rates.

“This is a delicate balance,” Cuomo said.

“It’s not going to be, we flip the switch, and everybody comes out of their house, gets in their car, waves and hugs each other, and the economy will start.”

“Do it carefully, do it slowly and do it intelligently,” he added,

The governor described restarting New York’s shuttered economy as like “opening a valve,” and implored people to “do it carefully, do it slowly and do it intelligently.”

“If you see that infection rates start ticking up, which would be undermining everything we have accomplished thus far, then you know you’ve opened the valve too fast,” he said.

Cuomo encouraged New York’s 19.5 million inhabitants to continue to follow social distancing guidelines, saying “two or three days of reckless behaviour” could set the fight against the pandemic back.Sailor from US aircraft carrier dies of COVID-19 1

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New York state – the epicenter of the US outbreak – accounts for almost half of the country’s 22,861 deaths, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The virus has particularly spread among Latino and African-American communities living in deprived neighbourhoods where many residents work in service sectors and often lack comprehensive health insurance.

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