CORONAVIRUS IN NY: Death toll rises to 22,461; elective surgeries to resume in Westchester and Suffolk, horse tracks and Watkins Glen can reopen

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NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday that another 157 people died from the coronavirus in New York state since Friday as he announced the reopening of horse racing tracks and Watkins Glen.

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The state's death toll is now 22,461, with 345,813 cases now reported statewide.

New daily deaths have been between 100 and 200 all week. There were 132 new deaths reported Friday.

Cuomo said total hospitalizations and intubations are down, as are new hospitalizations, which dropped to 400.

The governor said elective surgeries and ambulatory care can resume in Westchester and Suffolk counties.

"There was a period where hospitals were dealing basically with COVID patients," he said. "We are past that period. If you need medical attention, if you need a medical procedure, you should get it.''

Cuomo also said horse racing tracks across the state can open June 1 without fans.

He said car racing at Watkins Glen International racetrack can also reopen in June without fans.

At his daily briefing, Cuomo said he could even envision a return of Major League Baseball in New York, also without fans. "If it works economically, that would be great,'' he said.

But Cuomo cautioned that the state could see a rise in cases as the economy opens up. To avoid another spike, people will still need to take precautions like social distancing, he said.

"People are going to be coming out of their homes,'' he said. "How do they act when they come out? If people are smart you will see some increase in numbers, but you won't see a spike.''

While central New York, the Mohawk Valley, the Finger Lakes, the North Country, and the Southern Tier began the first phase of reopening Friday, Cuomo said New York City, its surrounding suburbs and western and eastern counties have yet to meet the state’s criteria.

New York extended its "PAUSE" shutdown of schools and non-essential businesses for the five regions that haven't started reopening, including New York City and Long Island, through May 28.

Construction and manufacturing businesses can now reopen in many rural parts of New York and some upstate cities. Retail businesses can open, too, but only for goods to be picked up quickly, not for in-store shopping.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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