The statewide death toll has dropped below 100 for the first time in about two months, Governor Cuomo announced Saturday — along with plans to reopen two more regions of the state next week, including Long Island.

The death toll Friday was 84, down from 109 the day before.

"It doesn’t do any good for those 84 families that are feeling the pain,” Cuomo said. "But for me, it’s just a sign that we’re making real progress. And I feel good about that.”

The Mid-Hudson region is now on track to begin reopening Tuesday, Cuomo said, provided some 857 contact tracers complete training over the holiday weekend. Long Island, where deaths have been declining, could then reopen as soon as Wednesday.

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At his daily briefing, Cuomo also made a plea for more New Yorkers to seek out testing. The state now operates 760 testing sites, many of which now have excess capacity, he said.

And he addressed his executive order allowing gatherings of up to 10 people, asking New Yorkers to exercise diligence and judgment in order to prevent an uptick in infections.

"It depends on how people act. You can have a safe gathering of 10 people. You can also have a wholly unsafe gathering of 10 people,” he said. ”If you don’t have to be with a group of 10 people, don’t be with a group of 10 people. It doesn’t mean okay, Governor signed an executive order up to 10, let’s now have a party of 10 people.”

The Cuomo administration has been on the defensive regarding deaths in nursing homes. On Saturday, top aide Melissa DeRosa pointed to higher nursing home deaths in New Jersey and Massachusetts, and said New York’s controversial policy that sent recovering COVID patients to nursing homes was in line with guidance from federal agencies.

“What New York did was follow what the Republican administration said to do,” Cuomo said. “Don’t criticize the state for following the President’s policy.”


Cuomo also displayed photos of beachgoers at Jones Beach on Friday. The public practiced social distancing as state beaches reopened with restrictions, he said. “People were great. They’re doing what they’re supposed to do."