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Coronavirus: N.Y. sees signs of hope after worst week of COVID-19 deaths

WATCH: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gives COVID-19 briefing

Amid some signs of hope that the coronavirus infection rate is plateauing, New York is still wrapping up its worst week in deaths so far since the outbreak began. Officials announced Sunday that the daily death toll for the state topped 700 in the state for the sixth straight day.

Meantime, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo remained at odds over the mayor’s plan to close city schools for the rest of the academic year, with Cuomo calling it too early to make that call.

The numbers

At the end of the day Saturday, there were 18,707 people hospitalized with the virus in the state. That was up only 73 since the previous day.

The bad news has been that large numbers of people are still dying every day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday. There were 758 people who died Saturday, the sixth day in a row that the toll topped 700.

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Coronavirus outbreak: New York must have ‘coordinated’ approach on reopening school
Coronavirus outbreak: New York must have ‘coordinated’ approach on reopening school

In all, 5,226 people were killed by the virus in the week that ended Saturday. That’s raised the total number of deaths in the state to 9,385.

Will schools stay closed?

Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio remained at odds Sunday on the mayor’s plan to close schools in the nation’s largest district.

READ MORE: New York sees uptick in bodies buried at mass gravesite amid coronavirus pandemic

De Blasio announced Saturday that the public school sites in the city’s 1.1 million-student school district would close for the rest of the academic year to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

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After Cuomo challenged de Blasio’s authority to do it, the mayor doubled down on Sunday by saying, “We were quite certain it was the right thing to do.”

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Coronavirus outbreak: New York must have ‘coordinated’ approach on reopening school
Coronavirus outbreak: New York must have ‘coordinated’ approach on reopening school

Two hours later, Cuomo repeated his position that school closings would have to be co-ordinated with districts surrounding the city.

Talk of closing schools for the year is “premature,” the governor said at his own briefing. “I don’t think anyone can make an informed decision right now.”

De Blasio said his goal to reopen school sites by September, adding that high school graduates may have to go without a commencement ceremony.

Mask mandate

Cuomo said he would sign an executive order Sunday directing which employers to provide essential workers with a cloth or a surgical face mask to their employees when they are interacting with the public. The employers would have to pick up the cost.

He said it was similar to an order in New Jersey.

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Coronavirus outbreak: Cuomo says number of hospitalizations show flattening of curve
Coronavirus outbreak: Cuomo says number of hospitalizations show flattening of curve

Hotels for the homeless

De Blasio says the city is going forward with a plan to move a total of 6,000 homeless people from shelters to commercial hotels to try to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The plan involves moving people who have tested positive for the virus or those showing COVID-19 symptoms. The effort is also is meant to thin out shelters where it’s “difficult to achieve social distancing,” the mayor said.

READ MORE: N.Y. nurses lauded for coronavirus efforts find their tires slashed

The city says 20 homeless people have died from the virus, 19 of whom were hospitalized when they died. There are about 58,000 people in the shelter system and another 4,000 or so on city streets.

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An empty St. Patrick’s on Easter

The coronavirus pandemic means that this Easter Sunday, there were no congregants in the pews at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan led a televised Mass in a broadcast expected to draw a large audience.

Coronavirus outbreak: Cuomo says New York executive order will increase antibody tests
Coronavirus outbreak: Cuomo says New York executive order will increase antibody tests

Dolan said on Sunday that he was happy that congregants could have a virtual celebration.

“We miss you though,” he said. “We’d rather you be here physically.”