County youth can play ball on July 6

Enterprise file photo — Marcello Iaia

Low-impact youth sports like basketball and softball will be allowed locally, beginning on July 6 as long as the Capital Region has entered Phase 3 of reopening by then.

ALBANY COUNTY — Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Sunday that low-risk youth sports for regions in Phase 3 of reopening can begin on July 6 with up to two spectators allowed for each child.

Low-risk sports include baseball, softball, gymnastics, field hockey, cross-country running, and crew.

Albany County, as part of the Capital Region, is slated to begin Phase 3 reopening on Wednesday. The county’s executive, Daniel McCoy, has frequently said in press briefings over the last week or two that he has fielded many inquiries from coaches eager to begin youth sports programs.

“The governor is allowing low-risk sports by July 6. We’ll be in Phase 4 by then,” said McCoy at his Monday press briefing.

McCoy said he was sending a letter to Cuomo on Monday, requesting that the Capital Region be allowed to start youth sports on July 1.

“They’re out there,” McCoy said of local teams. “People have masks on; they’re social distancing. You see a lot of kids playing sports.”

McCoy went on, “Right, wrong, or indifferent, I know a lot of these kids have been home for the last 13 weeks and they want to get out.”

The governor on Sunday called allowing low-risk youth sports “another step towards return to normalcy” but at the same time he cautioned that many states are rolling back reopening as COVID-19 cases spike.

“We’re getting reports from all across the state that there are large gatherings, social distancing is being violated, people are not wearing masks,” Cuomo said at his Sunday press briefing. “We have gotten 25,000 complaints to the state of businesses that are in violation of the reopening plan — 25,000 complaints. We have never received more complaints in a shorter period of time.”

Complainants, Cuomo said, are concerned that their own health is being jeopardized by these violations.

“This is a very serious situation and I want to make sure everybody knows the consequences here,” said Cuomo. “A bar or restaurant that is violating these rules can lose their liquor license. State Liquor Authority inspectors are out. We have a task force of state investigators who are out.”

He went on, “Mayors, county executives, you have to do your job. I understand it’s an unpopular position to have to enforce the law … You know what's more unpopular? If that region closes because that local government did not do their job. That can happen.” 

Additionally on Sunday, Cuomo announced the state is extending the special open enrollment period in the New York State of Health Health Plan Marketplace for an additional 30 days through July 15, 2020.

Cuomo also signed legislation on Sunday requiring the state’s health department to conduct a study on the impacts of COVID-19 on minorities in New York State. The state previously conducted an antibody testing survey at churches in lower-income New York City communities and communities of color, which showed higher infection rates among individuals in these communities compared to the overall population.

Albany County has tracked its COVID-19 cases according to race and ethnicity and found that people of color have a disproportionate number of hospitalizations and deaths.

In Albany County, 23 percent of those infected with COVID-19 are African Americans, 26 percent of residents hospitalized with COVID-19 have been African Americans, 30 percent of those who have been in intensive-care units have been African Americans, and 13 percent of those who died of COVID-19 have been African Americans.

Yet African Americans make up just 11 percent of the county’s population.

Also on Sunday, Cuomo said the state has reached the lowest number of hospitalizations and deaths since the pandemic began. The number of total hospitalizations was down yesterday to the lowest level since March 20 — to 1,657. Twenty-three New Yorkers died on Saturday of COVID-19, down from a record-high of 800 in a day nine weeks ago.

Albany County had no new deaths from the disease on Saturday. The county’s COVID-19 death toll still stands at 118.

As of Sunday morning, Albany County has 1,827 confirmed cases of COVID-19with  378 residents under mandatory quarantine and four under precautionary quarantine. The five-day average for new daily positive cases is down to 4.4.

So far, 5,251 county residents have completed quarantine, with 1,608 of them having tested positive and recovered.

Ten county residents are hospitalized with COVID-19 and the hospitalization rate remains at 0.54 percent.

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