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N.Y. COVID-19 deaths again below 200; dozens of children ill with new syndrome

By Don Jacobson
N.Y. COVID-19 deaths again below 200; dozens of children ill with new syndrome
Participants hold candles as nurses, elected officials and community members came together to commemorate the final day of Nurses Week with a vigil in Yonkers, New York on Tuesday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

May 13 (UPI) -- New York recorded fewer than 200 deaths from COVID-19 for a third consecutive day Wednesday as Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed more than 100 cases of a rare childhood illness linked to the disease are being tracked.

Cuomo said 166 more coronavirus patients had died, pushing the state's total to 22,011.

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"These are not numbers, they are families, and 166 families are in pain today," he said.

Levels of new hospitalizations, intubations and ICU admissions, however, continued to decline as the North Country region joined three other parts of the state as eligible to emerge from a statewide stay-at-home order beginning Friday.

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The state has identified 102 cases of pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome, Cuomo said.

Linked to COVID-19, its symptoms are similar to Kawasaki disease, including persistent fever, diarrhea and vomiting. Three "young New Yorkers" have died from the illness, he said, adding that 60 percent of the patients had also tested positive for the coronavirus.

"As a parent I can tell you this is a parent's worst nightmare. We thought that children weren't especially affected by the virus. To now find out that they might be and it might be several weeks later -- this is truly disturbing."

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In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said earlier Wednesday that 82 of the affected children are residents of the city.

One has died from the illness, the mayor said, triggering a new, multilingual effort by health officials to inform parents and healthcare providers about the risk posed by the condition.

Fifty-three of the 82 patients tested positive for the coronavirus, de Blasio said, urging residents to "report any and all activity to the Health Department so we can understand better how to fight back against this problem."

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Meanwhile, the city will double the number of streets reserved for pedestrian-only use this week, providing 12 more miles of open streets for residents to stroll down while maintaining social distancing.

Nationally, more than 1.37 million COVID-19 cases had been counted by Johns Hopkins University as of mid-day Wednesday, resulting in nearly 83,000 deaths.

In Pennsylvania, state police officials said they will not issue citations to people or businesses in counties defying lockdown orders issued by Gov. Tom Wolf.

Lt. Col. Scott Price told reporters enforcement will only be used "as a last resort" in counties where local officials institute business reopenings and other relaxations of COVID-19 restrictions without Wolf's approval.

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The governor this week criticized a growing number of county officials who've said they will move from the state's "red" to the less-restrictive "yellow" lockdown designations on their own.

President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit Pennsylvania Thursday, where he will tour a medical equipment distribution business near Allentown.

In Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser extended the city's stay-at-home order until June 8.

Previously scheduled to expire May 15, Bowser said health criteria have not sufficiently improved to lift the lockdown in the nation's capital.

"We're not there yet and not quite ready to begin that phased new opening," she said at a news conference.

In Minnesota, where new cases of COVID-19 are still rising, Gov. Tim Walz is expected announce on Wednesday whether he will extend the statewide stay-at-home order beyond its Monday expiration date.

The state announced 695 new cases Tuesday, many of which were recorded in long-term care facilities for the elderly and in meatpacking plants. It has seen 614 deaths -- 501 of them in nursing homes.

Walz, a Democrat, is facing pressure from Republican state lawmakers who are threatening to block borrowing measures and other legislation unless the order is lifted.

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"To do this haphazard, and I think of business owners, if you open up and it becomes clear people got sick being there, it's every bit as damaging as a stay-at-home order," he told reporters Tuesday. "So, we can't get it wrong."

In Las Vegas, MGM Resorts issued a "multi-layered, seven-point plan" to reopen safely, nearly two months after the hotel/casino operator temporarily closed its properties in the city.

The plan's main elements include screening measures and mandatory face coverings for employees and "strong encouragement" for guests to also wear masks in public areas.

Also, a six-foot physical distancing policy will be in place while "contactless check-in" through a mobile app will be available to process payments, verify identification and obtain digital room keys.

"Our properties will not look the way they used to for a while, and that's not only OK, it's critically important," said Bill Hornbuckle, MGM Resorts' acting CEO and president. "We will continue providing the hospitality experiences we are known for, but we must do so safely."

U.S. copes with COVID-19 pandemic

Bass Pro Shops marketing manager David Smith (R) carries a box of donated face masks into Mercy Health in Chesterfield, Mo., on May 13. The company is donating 1 million FDA-approved ASTM Level 1 Procedure Face Masks to healthcare workers and first responders working on the front lines of the pandemic. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

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