ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced during Thursday’s coronavirus briefing that, provided they follow state guidance, localities can open public pools and playgrounds.

The announcement came eight minutes into the 25-minute press conference, which began with Cuomo calling the current climate as “tumultuous a time as we’ve seen,” and connecting current unrest to both the coronavirus and George Floyd’s murder. Take a look at the slides from the governor’s briefing:

With protesters gathering to march against racism during a socially-distanced pandemic, Cuomo addressed the potential that the coronavirus could spread within the next few weeks.

COVID-19 is spiking in 21 states following their reopenings, Cuomo cautioned. “Just look what happened in these other states!” he says, highlighting growth in California, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Kentucky, South Carolina, Missouri, North Carolina, Utah, Tennessee, Arkansas, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Alaska, and Vermont.

“It’s not one state, it is the pattern my friends, and it is to be expected,” Cuomo says, pointing out that New York is more densely populated, has the most crowding, and had the greatest number of protesters since Floyd’s death. Even so, Cuomo repeatedly praised New Yorkers for being informed, careful, and disciplined.

We are the exception, and an outrageous exception. We so far have the exact opposite phenomenon. We reopen, the number continues to go down. How can that be? Because our reopening is different than their reopening. Our reopening is based on the numbers. Our reopening is phased. And because New Yorkers have been smart. And they have been diligent.

Andrew Cuomo
Governor of New York

Cuomo says that New York is the progressive capital of the U.S., leading the way in terms of coronavirus response and police reform measures. Cuomo applauded the New York State legislature for repealing 50-a and passing other bills that regulate police activity.

In terms of reopening New York, Cuomo says that the number to watch now is daily testing, asserting that accurate contact tracing will dictate the way forward.

Hospitalizations continue to decline, with 2,042 on Thursday, the lowest since March 21. Cuomo says that the number of deaths is close to its lowest point, acknowledging that cause of death for deceased individuals with comorbidities can be difficult for doctors to determine.

Five regions will enter Phase Three of the reopening process on Friday: Central New York, the Mohawk Valley, the North Country, the Southern Tier, and the Finger Lakes.

Cuomo cautioned businesses, individuals, and leaders to follow the rules when reopening. “Sometimes, ‘Yes!’ is not the right answer,” he says about the understandable desire to reopen hastily. “Short-term gain isn’t worth long-term pain.”

Cuomo did not provide concrete timelines for high school graduations, nursing home visitations, or returning to work. “I’m not going to let people endanger people,” Cuomo says, repeating the sentiment that shut-downs and restrictions are better than death.

“As soon as it is safe, we will allow it, and the Department of Health is looking at it on a daily basis. As soon as the Department of Health has an answer, you’ll have it.”

Gov. Cuomo

The governor circled back around to the issue of police reform during the closing question and answer segment with reporters. Cuomo says that whether officers wear masks is up to local law enforcement agencies. If it were up to him, the police would all wear masks.

Cuomo says that the question of demilitarizing the police is not about any one specific issue, like tear gas or whether police should enforce safety within schools. “You now have a moment where you can make real change. Don’t waste the moment,” he says on reforming racial issues. “Make it systemic so Mr. Floyd’s name doesn’t just become another name on the list.”

Black Lives Matter. Yeah, every life matters. Black Lives Matter. And Black Lives Matter makes the point … Why does the criminal justice system unfairly kill African Americans?

Gov. Cuomo

Cuomo also touched on negative feelings and backlash against statues of Christopher Columbus. He says he believes Columbus has come to represent the contribution of Italian Americans to New York.

Finally, Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa addressed the question of in-person education for students with learning disabilities. She affirmed the administration’s support for in-person learning in cases where distance learning clearly wasn’t working. DeRosa cited last Friday’s executive order allowing necessary in-person special education instruction this summer, pending local approval.