Andrew Cuomo Announces Indoor Dining Can Resume Despite Coronavirus Being Worse Than When He Banned It

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Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that indoor dining can resume in New York City on Valentine’s Day, despite nearly every coronavirus metric being worse than it was when he banned indoor dining in the first place.

When Cuomo announced Dec. 11 that indoor dining would be banned in New York City, the 7-day average of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the city was 40.2, according to data from the New York Times. When he announced Jan. 29 that indoor dining could resume, that number was 66.1 – 64% higher than the average per-capita case counts in December.

Average hospitalizations per 100,000 people also rose from December to January. There was a 7-day average of 209 coronavirus hospitalizations per 100,000 people on Dec. 11, and on Jan. 28, the 7-day average was 335 hospitalizations, according to the New York Times. The 7-day average test positivity rate was 4.0% when the ban was announced, and 5.3% when it was announced that the ban would be lifted. (RELATED: ‘Wildly Irresponsible’: CNN’s Tapper, Gupta Slam Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Latest Statement On Pandemic)

Out of the four metrics that Cuomo said are used to determine reopening plans – new case numbers, hospitalizations, the test positivity rate, and the infection rate – the last metric is the only one that has improved. The rate at which people are infecting each other is now between 1.03 and 0.95, meaning each person who gets coronavirus will infect approximately one other person, state officials said according to the New York Times.

Gareth Rhodes, a member of Cuomo’s COVID task force and a deputy superintendent at the state Department of Financial Services, said that what matters is how the metrics are trending, not where the numbers are. He told the New York Times that in both the state and the city, each metric is trending downward, but in December, case numbers and hospitalizations were trending upward. In May, Rhodes said, the economy also began reopening despite over 6,000 hospitalizations because the metrics were trending downwards. (RELATED: 9 Health Officials In New York Have Resigned Because Of Andrew Cuomo: Report)

During his press briefing Friday, Cuomo presented numbers that were not reflective of the true trend in coronavirus case positivity rates, a New York Times analysis of data shows. Cuomo displayed a chart showing the positivity rate dropping from 7.1% on Jan. 5 to 4.9% on Jan. 28, but the governor picked the highest and lowest numbers from the month to show the drop rather than looking at the overall trend.

Cuomo’s chart showed an over 30% drop in test positivity rate, but the 7-day average – which accounts for day-to-day fluctuations – showed that from Jan. 5 to Jan. 28, positivity rates fell from 6.4% to 4.9%. That’s still a decrease, but it’s a 17% drop rather than Cuomo’s 30% drop, according to the New York Times data.

The chart Cuomo presented during Friday’s press briefing also did not label the vertical axis, which didn’t begin at zero, according to the Times. That gives the illusion that the numbers were closer to zero than they actually were.