NEW YORK – Long Island became the latest region of New York to begin easing some restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Gov. Andrew Cuomo lobbied the president for help with transportation projects. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said efforts to fight the virus have left the city with a $9 billion budget deficit.
Other coronavirus-related developments Wednesday in New York:
The sprawling suburbs of Nassau and Suffolk counties, where at least 4,000 people have been killed by the virus, were given approval Tuesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to begin reopening parts of their economy after nonessential businesses were shuttered for two months.
Construction, manufacturing, agriculture and retail with curbside pickup are permitted in the first phase of reopening. And some shops on Long Island were eager to start making up for lost time.
“There is no business. It’s just been, you know, some website orders, but it’s been horrible. It’s killing, killing the store,” said Janice Corio, manager of Madison’s Niche, a boutique in Garden City.
In nearby New Hyde Park, City Line Florist opened its front door again so customers could stop by to pick up long-stemmed roses.
“Very happy work, said Dean Lykos. “Ecstatic to finally be able to open the doors and have people in.”
After a customer paid for roses for his wife, Maria Lykos spread the bills on the table to sprayed them with disinfectant.
The shop missed out on Mother’s Day and Easter, but Dean and Maria Lykos hope they can get back on track.
“The big chains are going to make it, the big chains are going to … have enough resources to keep their heads above water,” Maria Lykos said. “It’s the small businesses that, you know, that many weeks …. Not any income coming in. It’s...”
She trailed off.
Several popular beaches on Long Island opened last weekend with new rules for reduced capacity and social distancing.
The easing of some restrictions on Long Island leaves New York City as the only part of the state that has yet to begin the reopening process. Under guidelines set by Cuomo, reopening is tied to metrics including hospital capacity and trends in fatality rates.
New infections have slowed throughout the state but not stopped. More than 1,000 New Yorkers tested positive on Tuesday.
The state reported that the virus has claimed an additional 74 lives in New York on Tuesday, for a total of more than 23,600.
CUOMO TO WASHINGTON
Cuomo lobbied President Donald Trump in Washington for help with massive New York City transportation projects and accused top Republicans of “abusing” states hardest hit by COVID-19 by opposing more aid.
The Democratic governor wants to move quickly on billions of dollars' worth of infrastructure projects to jump-start New York’s outbreak-ravaged economy.
Cuomo said he talked to Trump about two train tunnels beneath the Hudson River, an expansion of the Second Avenue subway line and a train linking LaGuardia Airport in Queens to Manhattan.
“If he gives us the green light, this is not going to be years of discussion. I have a shovel in the trunk of my car. We’ll start this afternoon,” Cuomo said during a briefing in Washington after meeting the president.
The projects require some federal funding or approval. Cuomo said he and the Republican president, who are often at odds, talk again next week.
Cuomo also is seeking more federal aid for states like New York that are struggling with revenue shortfalls because of the pandemic. Some Republicans in control of the Senate have opposed the additional aid, and Cuomo continued his harsh criticism.
“Stop abusing New York, stop abusing New Jersey, stop abusing Massachusetts and Illinois and Michigan and Pennsylvania,” he said. "Stop abusing the states that bore the brunt of the COVID virus through no fault of their own.”
CITY BUDGET DEFICIT
New York City's projected budget deficit has grown from $7.4 billion to $9 billion because of revenue shortfalls and new expenses linked to the coronavirus, De Blasio said.
“We do have to come to grips with the fact that on top of the health care crisis, on top of the economic crisis, we are now in a fiscal crisis here in this city,” de Blasio said at his daily briefing Wednesday.
The mayor renewed his call for the U.S. Senate to help cities and states by passing the House's coronavirus aid package and said that without federal assistance, the nation's largest city would need borrowing authority from the state to avoid deep cuts to services.
Cuomo dismissed borrowing money to cover his costs when asked about it Tuesday.
“Borrowing for operating expenses is fiscally questionable,” the governor said. “Fiscal responsibility is very important here.”
Marina Villeneuve and Michael Hill reported from Albany. Video journalist Robert Bumsted contributed from Garden City and New Hyde Park.