In another hopeful development, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday that the state’s hospitalizations from the virus have dropped to a new low since March 16.
But that’s no reason to think the fight against the virus is over, officials say.
“As this virus continues to be a national crisis, it’s clear that caution is a virtue, not a vice,” Cuomo said.
Some states, like New York, are seeing promising trends. As of early Monday, 18 states were reporting fewer new cases over the last seven days compared with the week prior. Another 16 were holding steady. Still, officials and experts have warned that the public must continue practicing preventative measures or risk a resurgence in the fall and winter.
“New Yorkers can help us keep that streak going by wearing masks, socially distancing and washing their hands,” Cuomo said. “Our actions today determine the rate of infection tomorrow, so as the Labor Day weekend continues, I urge everyone to be smart so we don’t see a spike in the weeks ahead.”
The best way to avoid the outbreaks that followed Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends is to wear masks, avoid crowds and keep a safe distance from others, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said leading up to Labor Day weekend.
Though a model often cited by top health officials predicted Friday that another 224,000 people could die from the virus by January 1, near-universal mask use could cut that number by more than half, according to the model from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
Large Labor Day celebrations go against recommendations
Labor Day celebrations — a time when friends and families gather to mark the unofficial end of summer — are not off the table for 2020, but Fauci pleaded with Americans to keep gatherings to very small groups in outdoor spaces. He said he would spend the weekend hiking with his spouse.
Many events over the weekend have appeared to go against Fauci’s guidance.
In San Francisco, city officials announced on Sunday morning they would be closing the parking lot at Ocean Beach after a gathering celebrating Burning Man culture attracted a big crowd. More than 1,000 people flocked to the event at the beach, according to San Francisco Mayor London Breed, who called the gathering “reckless and selfish.”
And in Atlanta, many weekend Labor Day parties were on the schedule, including “The Biggest Labor Day Weekend Party in the City” hosted by rapper Gucci Mane and a “Sunday Funday” rooftop party advertised with an image of people standing close together, some without masks.
‘We all want a vaccine,’ but many have concerns
Though a vaccine could make large gatherings safer, a senior adviser of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign questioned if it is reasonable to expect one to reach the public any time soon.
“We all want a vaccine, the question is how will it be distributed?” Symone Sanders, said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Many experts say that though the three vaccines in Phase 3 of testing in the US are moving quickly, it is unlikely one will be ready by then. And Sanders argued that the poor management of personal protective equipment distribution does not bode well for that of a vaccine.
“If a vaccine were to become available it is about, again, will working families benefit? Will they be able to receive the vaccine?”
Fauci told CNN that Phase 3 clinical trials for coronavirus vaccines should aim to include minorities at levels that are at least double their representation in the population to better reflect the population most affected by Covid-19.
But data from Friday shows that Moderna and Pfitzer, two companies developing vaccines, are still not enrolling enough minorities.
Moderna said it is working to increase minority participation to be sure the vaccine is safe and effective for everyone.
“We believe these efforts will improve the quality of the study and confidence in the vaccine by building evidence for benefit in the communities at highest risk of COVID-19,” a spokesperson for Moderna told CNN in a statement.
CNN’s Sheena Jones, Deanna Hackney, Laura Ly and John Bonifield contributed to this report.