Cuomo said 777 more New Yorkers died, the state's fourth consecutive daily toll of at least 700. He said more than 7,800 have died in the state so far, more than any other in the United States.
"The number is lower than yesterday, for those who can take solace in that fact," Cuomo said. "As someone who searches for solace in all this grief, the leveling off of the number of lives lost is a somewhat hopeful sign."
The greatest reason for optimism, he added, is fewer patients in ICUs.
"Change in ICU admissions is actually a negative number, for the first time since we started this intense journey," he said.
At the start of the Easter holiday weekend, Cuomo urged against complacency, emphasizing that the recent slowdown is the result of tough social distancing efforts.
Nationally, the death toll passed 18,000 Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There were almost 487,000 total coronavirus cases in the United States, nearly 90,000 of which are located in New York City alone.
At the White House's daily COVID-19 press briefing, federal Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx said the slowdown in case rates in and around New York was dropping the new-case rate nationwide, which was now doubling every eight days instead of every two.
"We're starting to level on the logarithmic phase, like Italy did about a week ago. This gives us great heart," Birx said. "[This is] because of the impact of what the citizens of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and now Rhode Island, are doing to really change the course of this pandemic and change the trajectory of new cases."
In New Jersey, which has the second-most U.S. cases, Gov. Phil Murphy noted some hopeful signs on Friday that the pandemic may be starting to peak there. He said the state reported more than 3,600 new cases, putting its total caseload at nearly 55,000 and its death toll near 2,000.
Murphy said the rate of increase has slowed in two counties on the same day for the first time since the outbreak began -- including populous Bergen County, which is part of the New York City metropolitan area.
"There were 682 residents who were discharged [from hospitals]. That is a big deal ... There are good early signs, but too early to spike any footballs," he said Friday.
Murphy said he will sign an executive order that will free some low-risk inmates from New Jersey prisons, including those whose sentences are ending in the next three months.
In Wisconsin, state health officials said Friday they have started to track the spread of the virus connected to Tuesday's primary election, which was held over the objection of Gov. Tony Evers.
Andrea Palm, the secretary-designate of the Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Services, said the agency had added more than 120 tracers to help local officials interview "every person confirmed with COVID-19 about anyone they had been in contact with" on election night.
Evers canceled in-person voting on Monday, but his order was overruled by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.