By Yoshita Singh
New York, May 15 (PTI) Five regions in New York State can begin a phased reopening when the shutdown orders end on Friday, allowing construction, manufacturing and curbside retail businesses to start operations after remaining closed for nearly two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo has said.
New York State, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US, has 343,051 confirmed virus cases. The 'New York Pause' is in effect till May 15 under which all non-essential workers are required to work from home and all people in New York to wear masks or face coverings in public, including when taking public or private transportation or riding in for-hire vehicles.
Governor Cuomo said on thursday that Central New York, the North Country, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley Regions have met all seven metrics required to begin phase one of the state's regional phased reopening plan when 'NYS on PAUSE' orders expire on May 15.
"Phased opening does not mean the problem has gone away. It means we have controlled the problem because of what we did and because of our individual responsibility and individual actions and that has to be maintained and I would urge local governments to be diligent about the business compliance and about individual compliance.
"Then if you see a change in those numbers react immediately. React immediately. If you allow this virus to get ahead of us we will have a problem. So we'll have of the data. React immediately," he said.
These five regions can begin opening businesses for phase one, which includes construction; manufacturing and wholesale supply chain; retail for curbside pickup and drop-off or in-store pickup; and agriculture, forestry and fishing. Reopening refers to non-essential businesses and business activities. Essential businesses and business activities that are open will remain open.
The seven metrics that will define whether a region can re-open businesses are decline in total hospitalisations, decline in deaths measured by the three-day rolling average of daily new hospital deaths not exceeding 5, fewer than two new hospitalisations per 100,000 residents, hospital bed capacity regions must have at least 30 per cent of their total hospital beds available before a phased re-opening, availability of 30 per cent of ICU beds in a region, diagnostic testing capacity and contact tracing capacity.
"All the arrows are pointed in the right direction and now the question becomes focused on reopening - people have to get back to work and the state needs an economy - but we have to make sure we don't reopen too soon," Cuomo said.
"We are doing this in a calibrated way and monitoring the data, facts and metrics every single day and using the lessons we've learned from others who have already gone through this. And right now, based on our criteria, we have five regions that are poised to reopen beginning Friday," he said.
As they start to reopen certain businesses, the administration will continue to monitor the level of activity and make sure it does not create a second wave of this virus, Cuomo said. Other regions in the state, including New York City, have not yet achieved the seven health-related criteria established by Cuomo to begin reopening.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city was making progress in combating the virus infections.
"Today is a very good day and you deserve the credit because it's because of your hard work that I get to tell you this good news. Every time you stay home, every time you socially distance, every time you use hand sanitiser even, every time you put on a face covering, you're helping to drive these numbers down and get us closer to a better place," he said.
The number of people admitted to hospitals daily for suspected COVID-19 is down from 78 to 59. Daily number of people in ICUs is also markedly down from 561 to 517.
"So that's a big movement there. That's a big jump in the right direction, bigger than we've seen most days, even when things go in the right direction so that is really important, and that means you're talking about fewer and fewer people fighting for their lives,” he said.
Further, the percentage of people tested who are positive is down from 13 per cent to 11 per cent, he said.
The city has 186,293 confirmed virus cases and 15,349 confirmed deaths, people who had a positive COVID-19 laboratory test. The city's probable deaths - people who did not have a positive COVID-19 laboratory test, but their death certificate lists as the cause of death "COVID-19" or an equivalent - is 5,057 as of May 14. PTI YAS MRJ