A total of 42 people in the U.S. state of New York passed away on Thursday due to COVID-19, which is the lowest death toll since the pandemic began, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Friday.
"While our hearts ache for those families who lost loved ones yesterday, just eight weeks ago, we had 800 deaths per day," said the governor at his daily briefing.
Meanwhile, the number of total hospitalizations was down on Thursday to 2,728 from a record-high of 18,825 during the peak of the pandemic.
The governor said the progress is made through people's change of behavior. "Today's achievement is proof we know we can change, and we know we can change dramatically when we work together," he said.
The state is now encouraging people who attended recent protests for George Floyd to receive COVID-19 diagnostic tests to avoid a resurgence of infections.
"One person, one person can infect hundreds. If you were at a protest, go get a test, please. The protesters have a civic duty here also," said Cuomo on Thursday's briefing.
The demonstrations have seen around 20,000 participants in New York City and some 30,000 across the state, according to Cuomo.
The state now allows schools to hold drive-in and drive-through graduation ceremonies this year, and will reexamine socially-distanced outdoor commencements at a later time, the governor has said.
Nine of the ten regions in the state have started the reopening process, with seven of them already in phase two. Mid-Hudson Valley is on track to enter phase two on June 9th and Long Island will follow on June 10, said Cuomo.
The Empire State has reported over 376,000 COVID-19 cases with a death toll of more than 30,000. New York City, which is scheduled to enter phase one of reopening on Monday, has seen over 205,000 cases, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.