COVID-19: New York to reopen horse race tracks, Navajo Nation locks down

Horses work out on the track in the early morning at Belmont Park before the 151st running of the Belmont Stakes in Elmont, N.Y., in June 2019. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday that Belmont Park can reopen June 1 for races provided they are televised without audiences in the stands. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

May 16 (UPI) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday that horse racing tracks and the Watkins Glen International auto racing track would open June 1 for televised events with no stadium audience.

The number of new coronavirus cases reported Saturday in the state was 400, compared to 437 reported Friday, Cuomo told reporters.

Despite a slowly declining number of new cases, the number of deaths remains “stubborn,” Cuomo said.

The number of new deaths reported Saturday was 157, up from 132 reported Friday. Of those, 105 died in hospitals and 52 in nursing homes, according to state data.

“It’s interesting to look at the curve, how fast we went up and now how relatively slow the decline has been,” Cuomo said. “Spike happens quickly, but resolves slowly.”

A New York man was arrested in Hawaii on Friday after social media posts showed he’d visited local beaches shortly after arriving in the state.

Tarique Peters, 23, was arrested on charges of violating the mandatory 14-day quarantine rule and unsworn falsification to authority, authorities said.

Hawaii has reported 638 coronavirus cases and 17 deaths.

In an effort to control the spread of the virus, the state now orders travelers to to self-quarantine for 14 days, without leaving their hotel room or residence, and to fill out a document acknowledging that violating the quarantine is a criminal offense punishable by a $5,000 fine and up to a year in prison.

Peters was booked into jail and his bail was set at $4,000.

Also on Friday, the Navajo Nation began a 57-hour weekend lockdown, including the closure of all businesses to deter traveling in an effort to contain a coronavirus outbreak in the territory.

The Navajo Department of Health reported 108 new cases of COVID-19 in the Navajo Nation Friday.

As of Friday, the Navajo Nation has reported 3,740 total cases of the virus, with 127 deaths and 519 individuals who have recovered.

The government distributed food, water, clothing, protective masks and other essential items to 511 Navajo families in the 27,000-square-mile territory in advance of the lockdown, during which residents can only leave their homes for reasons of health, safety or medical emergencies.

This is the sixth weekend of total lockdown in the Navajo Nation, but also the strictest, with restrictions expanding to include the closure of grocery stores and gas stations.

“We should not see any travelers on the road except for first responders and essential employees. Let’s do our part to flatten the curve and beat COVID-19,” said Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer.

The intensified lockdown comes as national parks, including the nearby Grand Canyon National Park, reopen for visitors.

Navajo Nation leaders criticized the decision to reopen the park and have pleaded with the public to avoid visiting the landmark, and in particular to avoid traveling through reservation land to to do.

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