A man wearing a face mask takes a walk on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade in New York. AFP
The number of deaths in New York state caused by the novel coronavirus in the last 24 hours was 84, the lowest one-day total since late March, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Saturday.
"The news is good news," Cuomo said in his daily televised briefing.
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Hospitalizations, intubations and new infections were all in decline, he added.
"In my head, I was always looking to get under 100," Cuomo said, speaking from the governor's mansion in Albany.
"It doesn't do good for any of those 84 families that are feeling the pain," he added. "But for me it's just a sign we are making real progress."
The toll is the lowest since March 24. At the pandemic's peak in New York in early April, state officials were reporting up to 800 deaths per day, and daily tolls repeatedly surpassed 1,000 when probable cases were included.
Parts of the state that saw fewer virus cases have already begun to ease lockdown restrictions, but they have yet to be lifted in New York City, the former virus epicenter in the US.
The city's beaches will remain closed for this long Memorial Day weekend, which traditionally marks the beginning of the US summer season.
Beaches are being reopened elsewhere in the state and in other coastal areas, often with bathers required to observe social distancing.
Cuomo issued an unexpected order late Friday to allow public assemblies of up to 10 people "for any lawful purpose."
He was easing an earlier order that applied only to religious services and Memorial Day celebrations, after a civil liberties group filed suit to object.
With billions of people around the world still suffering from the fallout of the crisis, a worldwide race for a vaccine is underway, with nine companies already in late-stage Phase 3 trials.
In a grim new milestones marking the spread of the virus, total deaths across the United States hit 3,017, including at least 540 on Monday, and the reported cases climbed to more than 163,000, according to a Reuters tally.
The mixed messaging was the latest from a president whose remarks from the White House podium have frequently raised eyebrows, including most recently a suggestion that disinfectant could be injected to treat patients with COVID-19.
The dire forecast from the United States came as much of the Western world emerged from weeks of lockdown, with hopes that the disease may have peaked in Europe, where deaths in the worst affected countries have dropped after nearly two months of confinement.
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