April 26 (UPI) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday that the state recorded its lowest daily COVID-19 death toll since March as other states reported significantly lower new fatalities from the day before.
During a Sunday news briefing, Cuomo said 367 people died in New York throughout the past 24 hours, the lowest total during such a period since March 31. On Saturday, the increase was 617.
"The overall hospitalization rate is down, number of intubations is down. Even the number of new COVID cases is down. Still not good. Still 1,000 new COVID cases yesterday, to put it in focus. That would normally be terrible news. It's only not terrible news compared to where we were. This is just terrible news; 367 deaths, which is horrific," he said. "There is no relative context to death."
The United States has recorded 987,160 cases of COVID-19 and 55,413 deaths including 21,908 in New York, according to figures by Worldometer.info. Besides New York, the only other state announcing triple-digit increases was Massachusetts with 169 after 174 Saturday to remain in fourth place with 2,730. In all, 1,157 deaths were announced, almost half as many as the 2,065 Saturday. It was the lowest total since 1,085 on March 31, the same day as New York's lowest figure.
Cuomo also outlined a plan to reopen businesses in the state, beginning with construction and manufacturing activities including "businesses that have a low risk" followed by a gradual reopening led by a business by business analysis using a matrix to determine how essential a service the business offers and the risk associated with the reopening.
He said the decisions of whether to reopen in the second phase is "going to be up to businesses."
"Businesses, you develop a plan on how you want to reopen given everything we know," said Cuomo.
Gov. Phil Murphy of neighboring New Jersey announced Sunday the state recorded 3,730 new coronavirus cases bringing the total to 109,038 and 75 new deaths for a total of 5,938. The total deaths are second in the nation after 246 Saturday.
Murphy also added that the state was "still a number of weeks away from reopening" according to his best understanding of the data.
"I suspect -- while we haven't made a decision on that we're going to move as one state recognizing you've got density issues in the north that you just don't have in the south," he said, referring to higher totals of deaths and cases in the northeast of the state nearest to New York.
States including Alaska, Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee have begun opening businesses including hair salons, gyms and bowling alleys while Colorado recently began to phase in some store openings while allowing curbside retail deliveries and elective surgeries.
"What matters a lot more than the date that the stay-at-home ends is what we do going forward and how we have an ongoing, sustainable way, psychologically, economically and from the health perspective, to have the social distancing we need," Gov. Jared Polis told CNN's State of the Union. "Otherwise, if we can't succeed in doing that on an ongoing basis, the stay-at-home was for nothing."
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said the state would not begin to reopen until the number of deaths in the state declined for 14 state days. The state reported 35 deaths Sunday, compared with 77 Saturday, for a total of 875, 13th in the nation.
"I'm going to be very cautious," Hogan told ABC News' This Week. "We're going to make decisions on science."
White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said social distancing procedures will likely remain in place through the summer responding to comments by Vice President Mike Pence that the United States "will largely have this coronavirus epidemic behind us" by Memorial Day.
"Social distancing will be with us through the summer to really ensure that we protect one another as we move through these phases," she said.
Georgia, which has been reopening nonessential businesses, added five deaths after eight the day before for a total of 912 in 11th place.
Louisiana, originally a hotspot, reported 26 more deaths Sunday, down 17 from Saturday, for a total of 1,729, eighth in the U.S.
And Michigan remained in third place at 3,315. The 41 deaths Sunday dropped dramatically from 189 Saturday.
Illinois is fifth in the nation with 1,933 deaths, including 59 more fatalities Sunday after 79 the day before.
Elsewhere, No. 6 Connecticut added 62 deaths, No. 7 Pennsylvania an additional 19 as well as 32 more by No. 9 Connecticut, and 19 by No. 10 Florida.