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N.Y. to expand COVID-19 testing in low-income, minority communities

A worker cleans a subway car at the Coney Island transit stop after police officers escort people off of trains in New York City on Wednesday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
A worker cleans a subway car at the Coney Island transit stop after police officers escort people off of trains in New York City on Wednesday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

May 9 (UPI) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday the state plans to expand COVID-19 testing in low-income and minority communities.

The state is partnering with Northwell Health to set up 22 temporary testing sites at churches, he said.

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On Friday alone, 226 New Yorkers died, he said, adding that neighborhoods with high black and Latino populations have been disproportionately impacted.

People age 65 and older, people who live in nursing homes and people of all ages with underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

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Additionally, Cuomo announced that three children in New York have now died from possible COVID-19 complications.

This week 73 children in the state had symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome, which evidence is showing can be seen in children diagnosed with COVID-19.

"While rare, we're seeing some cases where children affected with COVID virus can become ill with symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease or toxic shock-like syndrome that literally causes inflammation in their blood vessels," Cuomo said.

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New York continues to lead the nation with 335,804 cases and 26,358 deaths, according to The New York Times database.

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New York, California and Washington remain on lockdown with firm shutdown orders in place.

In New York, Cuomo has laid out a plan for some retail stores to reopen for curbside pickup by next Friday. California Gov. Gavin Newsom similarly said his state could move toward reopening.

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California has 64,992 confirmed cases and 2,679 deaths.

Farther north, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee extended his stay-at-home order through the end of May, adding that he would allow some local jurisdictions to petition the state for limited openings.

The state has 17,537 confirmed cases and 915 deaths.

New Jersey's stay-at-home order is set to expire June 5. Gov. Phil Murphy said the reopening plan includes increasing testing, which could happen by the end of May.

New Jersey has 135,454 cases and 8,952 deaths.

Other state lockdowns have resulted in legal battles.

On Friday, two federal judges in Kentucky issued rulings in favor of Kentucky churches opening for in-person worship.

Kentucky has reported 6,298 COVID-19 cases and 304 deaths.

In South Dakota, a potential legal battle appears to be brewing.

Gov. Kristi Noem has ordered two Sioux tribes to take down highway checkpoints designed to curb the coronavirus on tribal lands as the U.S. death toll from the virus hit 77,000.

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Noem sent letters Friday to Chairman Harold Frazier of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and President Bear Runner of the Ogala Sioux Tribe, the governor's office said in a statement. Both letters said that the checkpoints must be removed within 48 hours or they could risk legal action.

"We are strongest when we work together; this includes our battle against COVID-19," Noem said in the statement. "I request that the tribes immediately cease interfering with or regulating traffic on U.S. and state highways and remove all travel checkpoints."

On April 8, the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs issued a memorandum that said tribes can temporarily close or restrict access to tribal lands for public health and safety purposes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The memo makes it clear that tribes must consult with the state of South Dakota and enter into an agreement with the state before closing or restricting travel on state or U.S. highways," according to the governor's office.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe initiated the checkpoints April 2 to stop out-of state-visitors and non-tribal members from spreading the coronavirus on tribal lands, the Rapid City Journal reported.

South Dakota residents were given permission to pass through checkpoints, but others had to provide proof of tribal membership or residence on the reservation.

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"We will not apologize for being an island of safety in a sea of uncertainty and death," Frazier said in a statement responding to Noem's letter.

Frazier further cited in his statement Article 16 of the 1868 Ft. Laramie treaty in response.

The treaty "stipulates and agrees that no white person or persons shall be permitted to settle upon or occupy any portion of the same; or without the consent of the Indians first had and obtained, to pass through the same," Frazier said.

"I absolutely agree that we need to work together during this time of crisis, however you continuing to interfere in our efforts to do what science and facts dictate seriously undermine our ability to protect everyone on the reservation," he added.

The Ogala Sioux Tribe initiated the checkpoints on their lands in mid-March to curb the spread of the virus.

"We'd be interested in sitting down to learn the legal, theoretical bases for aggressive assertions," said Chase Iron Eyes, a spokesman for the tribe's president, in response to the governor's letter. "They can sit down and talk with us like human beings, but they don't do that. They threaten us with violence or legal charges."

The South Dakota Department of Health has reported 3,144 COVID-19 cases and 31 deaths from the virus. The department's demographics on race/ethnicity show that more than 150 cases -- or 5 percent -- are Native Americans.

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Meanwhile, further south, the Navajo Nation is dealing with its own outbreak of the virus. There were 119 new cases Friday, with a total 2,876 cases and 96 deaths, according to a statement.

The nearby city of Gallup, N.M., also extended an emergency declaration through Sunday, which means businesses will continue to be closed, only two people may travel together in a car and residents should remain at home except for emergency meetings through Sunday.

Gallup is the county seat of McKinley County, which has about 4 percent of the state's population, but about 30 percent of the state's COVID-19 cases.

Last week New Mexico Gov. Michelle Grisham ordered all roads into and out of Gallup shut down due to the "uninhibited spread" of the virus there.

Police continue to enforce the emergency order and road closures.

New Mexico has 4,673 cases of COVID-19 and 181 deaths.

Across the country, nearly 1.3 million cases and more than 77,000 deaths have been reported, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

World moves to reopen amid COVID-19 pandemic

Visitors wear face masks as they tour the Whitney Museum of American Art as it reopens on September 3. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

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