At a press briefing, Cuomo said infection rates in every age group in New York have either remained flat or declined — except for people between 21 and 30 years old. That age group makes up an increasingly larger share of new cases over the last two weeks, according to a chart displayed at the press conference.
"It has ticked up 4 points; that is a significant increase in a short period of time," Cuomo said. Groups of young people socializing while not complying with recommended health protocols, such as social distancing and wearing a face mask, have been driving the increase, he said.
"We've been talking about it, you can see it in the news, you can see it in the newspapers, you can see it in social media. It is not hard to understand what is going on. It's hard to deal with it, but it's not hard to understand what's going on," Cuomo said.
New York will begin an advertising campaign targeted toward young people in the state to dispel "misimpressions" they may have about Covid-19, such as thinking they're immune to serious illness or death, Cuomo said.
"To young people: This is not the time to fight for your right to party. I respect your right to party, I fully respect it. I would enshrine it in the state law, if you want to know. You have the right to party, but let's be smart about it," he said.
Overall, the daily number of infections and hospitalizations has shown "good news" for New York, Cuomo said. There were 706 people hospitalized Wednesday with Covid-19, the lowest level since March 18, he said. Of the more than 69,600 tests conducted Wednesday, only 1.16% of them returned positive.
"The data is clear. We congratulate New Yorkers because they climbed the highest and hardest mountain and we're on the other side," Cuomo said. "The big caution ... we don't want to climb any more mountains. It was not fun."
Cuomo has previously said young people congregating at the state's bars and restaurants were a threat to the state's reopening progress, warning that he could order the businesses to shut down again. He criticized local authorities for "not doing their job" and asked them to ramp up their enforcement of the state's social distancing policies.
"The main problems are bars, restaurants, because [people ages] 21 to 30, you don't just have a gathering on a street corner and do bird-watching. Alcohol is often involved. The alcohol has to come from a bar or restaurant," Cuomo said.
States across the U.S. "that rushed the reopening and were not ready" also pose a threat to New York's progress, Cuomo said. There are now 39 states New York has identified as an "increasing threat," he said.
"They rushed the reopening, they were not ready for the reopening, or they just were not competent enough to handle the reopening because it was rushed," Cuomo said. "And we're seeing that increase, it's undeniable, and it is a threat to New York."