New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday said the city was having a "very good day" as the rate of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continues to fall.
But de Blasio hammered away at the need for city residents to maintain virus mitigation efforts, saying New York needed to see further progress in minimizing the number of infected people.
The number of new coronavirus hospitalizations and the percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 in New York City have dropped, de Blasio said at a press conference. The total number of patients in intensive care has also fallen in recent days, he said.
There were 835 ICU admissions in NYC Health + Hospitals on Saturday, compared with 857 ICU admissions the day before.
There were 383 new hospitalizations on Saturday, down from 463 new admissions on Friday, he said.
Pointing to the decrease in the hospitalization rate, de Blasio said, "That's a really meaningful improvement. That's a step in the right direction."
The percentage of people testing positive for the virus in the city remains high, at 58.1%, but that fell from 59.2% on Friday, he said.
"This is a very good day," the mayor said.
De Blasio cautioned New York City residents against assuming that the one-day decrease in the numbers was a sign that they could ease off social distancing and other mitigation efforts.
"We want the numbers to go down a lot," he said.
"We've got to see them all move down in unison over a prolonged period of time to be able to get to that next phase where we have low-level transmission, and then we can start on the path to a more normal life."
The mayor said, "Every time you practice shelter-in-place, every time you practice social distancing you're reducing the spread of this disease."
Despite the encouraging news in some virus tracking data, New York City remains the epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak in the United States, with 103,208 confirmed cases and at least 6,898 deaths attributed to the disease.
Referring to that grim toll, de Blasio called the pandemic the "greatest crisis of any kind in our lifetimes."
The mayor reiterated on Monday his plan to keep city schools physically closed for the remainder of this school year, which ends in June.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has ultimate authority over such a decision, has said that plan is not a done deal.
"We have to protect our kids, our parents, our families and our educators," de Blasio said.
"The only way we can do that with assurance is to keep our schools closed. The only way we can help make sure that we actually get out of this horrible phase of this disease is to keep our schools closed."
De Blasio added: "Bottom line: The schools are not going to reopen."
The mayor also said that he had called on the Rent Guidelines board to freeze the rent for the more than 2 million city residents whose rental payments are stabilized, or tightly regulated, placing restrictions on how much their monthly payments can increase each year.
"We can't have a situation where folks just have no money and no way to pay," he said, adding that the city wants to avoid seeing "a massive wave of evictions" after the coronavirus crisis passes.
"This is unfortunately not just a health-care crisis, it's something worse. It's also the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression," he said.
The mayor said that he was extending the suspension of alternate-side parking regulations, which require car owners in the city to move their vehicles from parking spots at different times and different days so that streets can be cleaned.
— CNBC's Noah Higgins-Dunn contributed to this article.