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Decline in coronavirus deaths prompts limited reopening of churches, mosques and temples

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Photo courtesy of Governor's Communications Office
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The number of deaths related to COVID-19 in New York has reached another all-time low since the peak of the disease in April.

Governor Andrew Cuomo made the announcement Saturday, noting that only 35 new fatalities were reported since Friday. Taking that decline into account, Cuomo said houses of worship will now be allowed to operate at 25-percent occupancy in regions that have entered the second phase of reopening their economy.

"Twenty-five percent occupancy is not as easy as 100 percent occupancy, but 100 percent occupancy is a mass gathering, and you really can't do social distancing," Cuomo said. "So, Phase 2 -- 25 percent occupancy -- begins immediately."

Bishop Edward Scharfenberger is allowing individual churches in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo to reopen at the discretion of their pastors. Some churches have already confirmed Masses under the new protocol will resume next weekend.

The Chapel at CrossPoint offered two Christian services Sunday morning, though prior registration was mandatory in order to comply with the 25 percent occupancy requirement.