While New York State has yet to set a date for when it will begin to reopen non-essential businesses, Governor Andrew Cuomo continues to dedicate more time during his daily press briefings to the subject.
Coronavirus testing, and more of it, remains key to relaxing the onerous restrictions of the governor's New York PAUSE executive order.
Cuomo resumed his calls for federal help to scale testing to a level that would make it possible to reboot the economy. New York has done about 500,000 coronavirus tests since the crisis began six weeks ago — more per capita than any nation outside the U.S. — but it's still not enough in a state of over 19 million people.
With a COVID-19 vaccine still a year or more away, Cuomo said the world is moving towards a "new normal" at least until people can feel safe again.
"It's over when we have a vaccine," he said, before acknowledging that other breakthroughs, like proven medicines could mitigate the economic pain.
The governor refused to cast blame for the insufficient testing, noting worldwide competition for materials and a lack of labs and personnel equipped to analyze the tests. He says the private industry simply does not have the resources to bring testing to such a scale.
Federal help is essential, not just to produce tests, but also to build out the infrastructure to make the widespread testing plausible.
States need labs, and qualified personnel to administer tests. Then reacting to positive test results and investigating outbreaks poses a Herculean task to health departments, Cuomo said.
"Once you test, then you have to trace the contacts..." he said. "Who were you with over the past week? What family members were you with? Who do you sit next to in the office? ... Now somebody's got to run down that list of 30 people from one positive. It's a detective investigator in the public health space. That is a massive undertaking."
The state will balance reopening with a matrix that measures the "essential" nature of a business with the risk of coronavirus spread from that business. As confirmed COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations decline, the state can allow more businesses to reopen.
An executive order that goes into effect on Saturday will require all people in New York to wear a mask or face covering if they're in a public place where social distancing is not possible.
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