Amid U.S. coronavirus surges, Cuomo considers slowing NYC's reopening

Joe Murphy and Corky Siemaszko

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned Monday that he might tap the brakes on New York City’s reopening amid “troubling signs” that some are flouting social-distancing rules intended to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“Our numbers are good, very good right now, but there are troubling signs,” Cuomo said in an interview with local cable channel NY1. “We’re seeing large social gatherings on sidewalks, et cetera, which is not helpful.”

The Big Apple was supposed to bring back indoor dining and reopen personal care businesses on July 6. But that's not going to happen for a while.

“There is a lack of compliance with social distancing in New York City," Cuomo said later at a briefing. "You can see the crowds in front of bars. You can see it on street corners. It is undeniable."

Echoing Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he would “re-examine indoor dining rules” for the next phase of the city’s reopening after states that allowed restaurants to reopen earlier saw big spikes in the numbers of new COVID-19 cases.

Meanwhile, the Broadway League announced that all Broadway performances will be suspended for the remainder of 2020 because of the pandemic.

"The Broadway experience can be deeply personal but it is also, crucially, communal," Broadway League board chairman Thomas Schumacher said. "The alchemy of 1,000 strangers bonding into a single audience fueling each performer on stage and behind the scenes will be possible again when Broadway theaters can safely host full houses. "

In New Jersey, the state's sprawling malls reopened, but with mandatory masking and strict limits on how many shoppers can be in a store at one time. But plans to reopen restaurants on Thursday were put on hold.

"We had planned to loosen restrictions this week," Gov. Phil Murphy said. "However, after COVID-19 spikes in other states driven by, in part, the return of indoor dining, we have decided to postpone indoor dining indefinitely."

Cuomo’s warning and Murphy's move came after California, which was the first state to issue a stay-at-home order in March, became the latest state to start shuttering bars to slow down the spread of the virus.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order issued Sunday, covers seven counties, including Los Angeles County, and was issued after the governors of Florida and Texas ordered bars in their states closed Friday after recording record numbers of new COVID-19 cases. California reported 10,397 new cases on Monday afternoon, a new record in the state's daily totals.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted in favor of closing beaches through Fourth of July weekend, beginning Friday. LA County Sheriff's Department Malibu-Lost Hills Station posted the news to Facebook and said they would be patrolling the beaches looking for trespassers, who could be fined up to a $1,000.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, both staunch allies of President Donald Trump, had been reluctant to issue stay-at-home orders when the pandemic first began to spread, and they were among the most aggressively pushing to reopen their states.

Florida reported 5,266 new cases on Monday and the new tally for Texas was 3,918. And in both states, many of the new cases are people ages 18 through 44.

Despite the cascade of new cases, DeSantis insisted again Monday that he would not require all Floridians to wear face masks in public places. He was asked the question after the city of Jacksonville, which will be hosting the Republican convention starting Aug. 25, announced it will require people to wear masks while in public.

"We're not going to do that statewide," DeSantis said, adding that he is leaving it up to local jurisdictions to decide whether to make masks mandatory.

A spokesman for the Republican National Committee told NBC News the convention will comply with whichever “local health regulations in place at the time.”

President Trump has been reluctant to be seen in public wearing a mask and the issue has been politically polarizing, with Republicans less likely to wear them. But Vice President Mike Pence, who was harshly criticized in April for not wearing one while on a tour of the Mayo Clinic, recently began wearing a face mask in public and is recommending others do the same.

"We encourage everyone to wear a mask in the affected areas," Pence said Sunday. "Where you can't maintain social distancing, wearing a mask is just a good idea, especially young people."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell amplified that message Monday.

"We must have no stigma -- none -- about wearing masks when we leave our homes and come near other people," the Kentucky Republican said. "Wearing simple face coverings is not about protecting ourselves. It is about protecting everyone we encounter."

In Texas, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said Monday on MSNBC that he's asked Abbott to reinstitute a “stay home, stay safe order" and to enforce mask-wearing in public places.

"We’re on a trajectory for the most (cases) and it’s because of the messaging from the governor," Jenkins said. "So he’s got to lead in this. He’s got to do statewide masking. He cannot leave it up to local leaders."

Monday afternoon, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced a monthlong pause for bars, gyms, movie theaters, water parks and tubing rentals. Also prohibited are gatherings of more than 50 people. He encouraged Arizonans to stay home for July 4 and to wear a mask if they do go out. Finally, he announced that the start of in-person school would be delayed until Aug. 17

Meanwhile, the death toll from the coronavirus continued to climb Monday after a grim weekend during which half-a-million fatalities were reported around the world and the number of confirmed cases topped 10 million globally.

More than a quarter of those deaths were in the United States, according to an NBC News tally. And three states posted new record high numbers of cases Monday: Alabama with 1,734; Oregon with 523; and Montana with 56.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that the actual number of cases in some hard-hit areas may be 10 times higher than reported.

Last week, Pence postponed planned campaign appearances in Arizona and Florida scheduled for this week "out of an abundance of caution" because of virus spikes.