New York State will begin the painstaking process of reopening its economy late next week.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced at a Monday morning news briefing that he would allow parts of the state to begin reopening, starting May 15, when his New York PAUSE initiative expires.
Acknowledging the vastly different circumstances in regards to COVID-19 between upstate and downstate New York, Cuomo said the state will reopen on a regional basis with adherence to a strict set of guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Gov. Cuomo cautioned that the New York Metropolitan Area will likely have to wait longer to meet the guidelines than other less-impacted parts of the state. He juxtaposed the "blunt" process of closing state businesses with the delicate process of safely reopening them, repeating his insistence that New York will not abide a stilted reopening on account of a second wave of outbreaks.
"There were other countries that went down before us," Cuomo said, referencing Germany, China and Singapore's disrupted reopenings. "They wanted to reopen also; they were feeling the pressure on reopening."
"The truth is that nobody knows what happens next and when it happens," he conceded, noting that the entire world is navigating uncharted waters.
New York reported another single-day low in COVID-19-related deaths (262) on Sunday. There were over 316,400 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state by Monday and a total of 24,000 likely COVID-19 deaths.
Reopening will commence in accordance with statistical guidelines regarding new coronavirus infections and hospitalizations relative to a region's healthcare, diagnostic and tracing capacity.
Each region must have at least 14 days of a decline in total hospitalizations and deaths on a rolling 3-day average. Regions with few COVID cases cannot exceed 15 new cases or 5 new deaths on a 3-day rolling average and they must have at least 30 percent of their total hospital and ICU beds available to account for a potential spike in new cases.
"We've done great work at a tremendous cost and tremendous hardship," Cuomo added. "We just have to remain vigilant and smart going forward."
As regions check the requisite metrics, businesses will reopen based on matrix that weighs their economic impact versus their risk of spreading the virus. More essential, lower risk businesses will open first. Less essential, higher risk businesses will have to wait.
Like state schools, businesses are advised to draw up reopening plans and new workplace guidelines to reduce risk of coronavirus transmission.
New York remains a worldwide leader in testing, having administered 1 million coronavirus tests since the crisis began in March — more per capita than any nation or other U.S. state.
Cuomo says coronavirus testing and tracing will remain a top priority as reopening proceeds.
Photo: Getty Images