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Low-risk HS sports get go ahead in NY; Cuomo signs new voting laws

File photo of New York Governor Andrew Governor (Photo: Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo)
File photo of New York Governor Andrew Governor (Photo: Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo)

(WHAM) - Governor Andrew Cuomo gave some high school sports the go ahead for next month, while keeping other sports as "practice-only" sports.

At a news briefing Monday morning, Cuomo said lower-risk sports such as tennis, soccer, cross country, field hockey, and swimming can begin competing on September 21 in all regions. Teams will not be allowed to travel, practice, or play outside of their region or contiguous counties until October.

Higher-risk sports, including football, wrestling, rugby, and ice hockey, will be allowed to practice, but are not yet authorized to play.

The Democratic governor said health officials are keeping an eye on the Western New York region, which has seen an increase in infection rates. The region has had a rate of infection above 1 percent for six straight days.

The rates of infection appear to be increasing due to "clusters" of positive test results at steel plant in Erie County and a food processing factory in Chautauqua County, according to the state. There were also apparently new cases at two nursing homes in the Western New York region; other positive test results were found at pre-hospital screenings and testing of seasonal labor at farms.

As of Monday morning, New York has a 0.66 percent daily infection rate - the lowest rate of infection for people tested since March 16. According to New York State Department of Health data, New York has been averaging a rate of 1 percent or lower since June and has been under 1 percent for 17 straight days. The infection rate for the Finger Lakes region was 0.3 percent on Sunday.

New data released Monday shows 428 new hospitalizations due to COVID-19, as well as 120 patients in the ICU, and 45 intubations.

Seven people died due to the coronavirus Sunday.

On Sunday, there were 3,964 establishments checked by the State Liquor Authority (SLA) and a NYS Police Task Force. Of those, there were 34 violations found by the SLA.

In addition, New York is also adding more COVID-19 testing sites at JFK and LGA Airports for arriving passengers to test those coming in from out of state.

Cuomo will be extending temporary illness exceptions for absentee ballots for elections not administered by the Board of Elections this November. People can cite coronavirus as a temporary illness exception when they request an absentee ballot.

In addition, new laws will mandate county boards of election to send a mailing to all eligible voters to let them know about deadlines and methods by which they can request absentee ballots. All boards of elections will also be required take the necessary steps to expedite the process of counting ballots and report their staffing plans to the state by September 20 so the state can step in and help them as needed before the November 3 general election.

Cuomo also addressed issues with utility companies not responding well during damage during the storms last weekend. As a result, the governor is proposing legislation to increase the legal limits for penalties for utility companies that fail to "effectively respond" to power outages and creating a more streamlined process for revocation of a utility company's operating certificate for recurring failures.

Cuomo also wants to require the companies to clearly communicate with customers during an outage and immediately following the storm about restoration times.

"We pay for that service," Cuomo said. "If they're not providing the service, then find someone else to provide the service."

In 2018, the state reached a $10.5 million settlement with RG&E and New York State Electric and Gas Corporation stemming from power outages during storms in early 2018. The two companies admitted to a combined 21 violations of state-approved emergency response plans.

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