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New York couples now able to wed on video conference amid COVID-19 lockdown

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A couple celebrate their upcoming wedding at their home in Ronda, Spain, during national lockdown - April 7, 2020
A couple celebrate their upcoming wedding at their home in Ronda, Spain, during national lockdown - April 7, 2020   -   Copyright  JORGE GUERRERO / AFP

New York's daily toll of coronavirus deaths hit its lowest point in more than two weeks, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned on Saturday that the state isn't ready to ease up on shutdowns of schools, businesses and gatherings.

For those looking for something to celebrate, however, the state is untangling some red tape around tying the knot: New Yorkers will be able to get marriage licenses online and wed via video during the crisis, Cuomo announced on Saturday (April 18).

Many marriage bureaus have been closed because of the health emergency, leaving couples unable to get licenses because the state requires the betrothed to complete their application in person.

But Cuomo is going to order that provision waived to let couples apply remotely, his office said on Saturday. The state will also enable town and city clerks to conduct weddings by video.

 "There is now no excuse when the question comes up for marriage. No excuse. You can do it by Zoom. Yes or no,'' the governor said with a chuckle. 

Coronavirus deaths down in NY, but officials urge vigilance

The coronavirus death toll in New York dropped again, a sign that Governor Cuomo said on Sunday means the state is "on the other side of the plateau" and that ongoing social distancing practices are working to stem the spread of the virus.

Cuomo said 507 people died on Saturday, down 33 from the previous day and by 271 since last Monday. Other indicators were going in the right direction, the governor said. Hospitalizations were down by more than 750, to 16,213.

But Cuomo and New York mayor Bill de Blasio maintained their warnings that people in New York City and the rest of the state need to stay vigilant to curb the spread of the virus.

"We showed that we can control the beast and when you close down, you can actually slow that infection rate, but this is only halftime,'' Cuomo said Sunday at a briefing.

"We still have to make sure that we keep that beast under control, we keep that infection rate down, we keep that hospitalization rate down as we all get very eager to get on with life and move on.''

Nearly 14,000 New Yorkers have died since the state's first coronavirus case was reported on March 1, according to state data