New York Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed the protests that roiled the nation overnight in response to the death of George Floyd during his daily briefing about the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cuomo noted the virus was ravaging predominantly minority communities, and connected health inequities to the nationwide protests. Cuomo commented on the death of Floyd, an unarmed black man killed in police company, as well as other black Americans killed by police officers.

“We have an injustice in a criminal justice system that is abhorrent,” Cuomo said. He also commented on brutality against black Americans in general: “The names change, but the color doesn’t.”

He said that while he “figuratively stands with the protesters,” he does not condone violence in protests. He also urged people to wear masks while protesting.

Cuomo mentioned violent clashes between police and civilians that occurred during protests in Brooklyn on Friday, saying that he had asked Attorney General Letitia James to review what occurred and report back to the public.

“The public deserves action and the public deserves accountability,” Cuomo said. He added that he has asked James to review the matter quickly, and provide a report within 30 days.

Cuomo announced that the Capital Region and Western New York will end Phase 1 next week, and said the state government would make a decision about whether those regions could move onto Phase 2 of reopening.

Cuomo said the state would “be smart, and avoid the politics, and avoid the emotion, and stay on the data” in deciding whether to allow regions to reopen.

Cuomo announced on Friday that New York City, which has been the epicenter of the virus in the United States, is on track to begin reopening on June 8. He said Saturday that the state would focus on ten hotspots in the city so the first phase of reopening can begin on schedule.

Cuomo said Friday that New York City is on track to meet all seven metrics the state requires for reopening, including hospitals at or below 70% capacity, a supply of PPE and capacity for testing and contract tracing.

Cuomo also announced the five upstate regions that reopened two weeks ago under Phase 1 can now move on to Phase 2. Those regions are the Finger Lakes (including Rochester), Mohawk Valley (including Utica), Central New York (including Syracuse), Southern Tier and North Country. 

Under Phase 2, all office-based jobs can reopen with 50% capacity. In-store shopping can return at 50% capacity and employees must wear face masks, but malls will remain closed. Real estate services can reopen. Hair salons and barber shops can also reopen with restrictions. 

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