ALBANY — New York’s bowling alleys can reopen Monday and officials will release guidance for gyms to reopen statewide, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a pandemic briefing Friday.
Bowling alleys can open at 50% capacity Monday with bowlers at alternating lanes, Cuomo said during a call with reporters. Wait staff will deliver food or alcohol directly to bowlers in the vicinity of their lane, and face masks or coverings are required.
“You don’t go to a bar, you don’t go to a food concession — they come to you,” Cuomo said. “...The parties stay with their party at the lane that they’re bowling. Given the results we have and given the results we made, we’re going to make more changes and adjustments.”
Bowling alleys that reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic must adhere to strict cleaning and disinfecting protocols, especially with rented equipment.
The state will release guidance early next week for gymnasiums or similar indoor exercise facilities to safely reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We will put out protocols on Monday for gymnasiums to open, which follow the protocol,” Cuomo said.
Low-risk cultural arts, such as museums and aquariums, can reopen in New York City on Aug. 24. Such arts facilities opened in the rest of the state in phase four, or New York’s final reopening phase for nonessential businesses, but have remained closed in the city to prevent a COVID-19 resurgence.
Museums and other low-risk cultural establishments will reopen at 25% maximum capacity. Guests must reserve timed tickets for a staggered visit, Cuomo said. Face masks and protocols to control traffic flow are mandatory.
The governor also gave an update Friday on the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
The state Health Department and Department of Agriculture and Markets will open several mobile coronavirus testing sites in rural areas statewide after reports of virus clusters at farms. The state’s contact tracing program detected the clusters linked to seasonal workers who recently traveled to the state.
The state will spend $500,000 to expand wastewater sampling in Onondaga County, and in the cities of Albany, Newburgh and Buffalo as part of a pilot program to detect the presence of the novel coronavirus in wastewater.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield Jr. warned Americans on Wednesday about health concerns for this fall, as medical experts anticipate concurrent outbreaks of influenza and COVID-19, which have similar symptoms.
“Redfield said the fall is going to be terrible; terrible was not his word, but that was the basic thrust,” Cuomo said. “Let’s keep that in mind. Yeah, we’re doing great, but the fall is coming and states all around us are doing terribly.”
Officials are concerned about a second wave of the virus when college students travel to the state for the fall term.
Each of the state’s 713 public schools must hold three to five public meetings by Aug. 21 with parents, who will be allowed to participate remotely, and at least one meeting with teachers to review district reopening guidelines before the first day of classes.
Cuomo has received calls from parents and teachers complaining they were not allowed to speak or ask questions during their school district’s reopening sessions.
“They’re not really discussions,” the governor said. “School districts want to stonewall these conversations... it’s going to show up on the first day school is supposed to open because parents won’t send the kids and teachers won’t show up. There must be a full discussion. These are important issues. People are nervous.”
Cuomo is scheduled to speak virtually Monday under the theme “We the People” at the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee — the first night of the four-night prime-time event that will culminate in the party’s nomination of former Vice President Joe Biden to challenge President Trump in November. Cuomo received national and global attention for his leadership and daily news briefings through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Luckily, this was not a highly contested convention,” Cuomo said. “It’s not going to be any surprise here — it’s going to be Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. If there was ever a convention that would lend itself to a virtual process, it was this convention where you just don’t have the same level of controversy or indecision.
“...I don’t know how you’d do a virtual floor fight on Zoom.”
Tuesday’s headliners include Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-14, on the theme “Leadership Matters.”
Cuomo will not travel to the convention, he said Friday, declining to further preview his remarks. New York’s delegation will also vote and participate remotely.
The governor continued to verbalize his frustration with Congressional lawmakers as Democrats and Republicans negotiate the nation’s next two-year coronavirus relief bill on Capitol Hill. Both parties have disagreed for months over unemployment insurance and the need for federal assistance to help fund state and local governments.
“I don’t know what to tell you — they’re playing politics,” Cuomo said. “They’ve always been playing politics. COVID-19 didn’t bring any responsibility to Washington. ... This has been a total disgrace.”
Earlier this week, the governor blasted Trump’s executive order suggesting states pay 25% of a $400 weekly unemployment bonus as part of an enhanced insurance benefit through the pandemic. Cuomo called the tactic a political ploy, and said Friday
“I’ll make a projection for you,” the governor said. “COVID-19 is going to be the main factor in the November elections and Washington is going to fail the leadership test. You will see it in all elections: Congressional, senate and presidential. People are afraid. You name the last time you had a situation controlled by the government that had this impact on every American’s life.
“...You find me a time when you had a government issue that affected every American to these consequences: Life and death.”
The governor also responded to the Thursday results of a poll conducted by Canadian firm Leger, which named Cuomo as the first choice among Democrats for their nominee in the 2024 presidential election.
“The poll was shocking to me, frankly,” Cuomo said. “The other people in the poll all ran for president. They were all bona fide presidential contenders. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I didn’t run for president.”
The governor attributed the choice to his daily COVID-19 briefings this spring and New Yorkers’ success in flattening the curve of the outbreak.
“I think it’s reflective of the actions that New Yorkers took and possibly my rapier wit, and just stunning sense of humor,” Cuomo added with a laugh.
The state reported 727 new coronavirus infections after conducting 87,900 tests Thursday at 0.85% positive. Friday marked the state’s seventh straight day with new coronavirus infections under 1% positive.
Four New Yorkers died from the virus Thursday, down from 10 Wednesday.
The state reported 554 COVID-19 patients in New York hospitals, down one person from Thursday.
The Tribune News Service contributed to this report.
*Editor's note: President Donald Trump’s executive order suggesting states pay 25% of a $400 weekly unemployment bonus. A previous version of this story stated the weekly enhancement was $200.