New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned Monday that police brutality protests could be “counterproductive” to months spent working to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Demonstrations that have swept across New York City “could potentially be infecting hundreds and hundreds of people, after everything that we have done,” the governor said during a press conference.
“New York City opens next week, it took us 93 days to get here. Is this smart?” Cuomo said of the mass protests. “We have to take a minute and ask ourselves, what are we doing here?
“This is not advancing a reform agenda, this is not telling government officials to change, this is not helping beat the coronavirus,” he said. “It’s counterproductive for New York City in many ways.”
The city won’t enter Phase One of reopening amid the pandemic until June 8 but many more protests are expected in the coming week.
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“Don’t snatch defeat from the jaws of victory,” Cuomo urged protesters failing to social distance and wear PPE. “We’re talking about reopening in one week in New York City and now we’re seeing these mask-less gatherings over the past several nights that could in fact exacerbate the COVID-19 spread.”
Cuomo said that 50,000 New Yorkers had been tested for the virus on Sunday and 1,000 tested positive.That day, 54 New Yorkers were killed by the virus.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also urged protesters to express caution.
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“For those who have already had their presence and made their voices heard, the safest thing to do is to stay home,” de Blasio said. “Obviously we don’t want people in close proximity to each other, we don’t’ want people out there where they might catch this disease or spread this disease.”
Protests have raged across New York City, some turning to violent looting, following the death of George Floyd after an officer knelt on his neck while three other officers stood by.
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Floyd’s death came after tensions had already flared after two white men were arrested in May for the February shooting death of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and the Louisville police shooting death of Breonna Taylor in her home in March.