Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented a broad outline of a phased reopening plan that would be analyzed based on the region of the state, employee risk and how essential a business may be.
Cuomo said the first phase would be limited to low-risk construction and manufacturing operations while the second phase would require each business to make the case for reopening by submitting a matrix that would outline how they are protecting their employees and how necessary the service or the product they provide.
Any company’s matrix must address a plan on transportation, on-site capacity, spacing for employees, personal protection equipment, among other factors, he said.
Using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, there would need to be 14 days of falling hospitalization rates in order to begin Phase I, he said. There would also likely be areas of the state to reopen before others.
Between each phase, there would be a two-week break for the state to assess its impact on public health.
“So we’re working with all of this with partners in the business community and the healthcare community,” Cuomo said at his Sunday briefing. “We have an economic strategy and a public health strategy. It has to work with businesses that are reactive and more thoughtful and healthcare professionals who just learned a very important lesson with what we went through, and I don’t want to lose that lesson.”
Cuomo gave no firm date for when a reopening in any part of the state would start. New York’s stay-at-home order will remain in place until May 15, he said.
Any economic restart would be influenced by tracking the number of hospitalizations and statistics for those who have tested positive for the COVID-19 antibody and the number of positive diagnostic tests.
He explained that to move forward the infection rate must remain under 1.2 people infected per person. Currently, the state has a 0.8 infection rate.
New COVID-19 hospitalizations have slowly fallen to under 1,100 on Saturday. Cuomo said he would like to see daily hospitalizations drop to between 200 and 400.
“We have to do it intelligently,” Cuomo said of the plan forward.
The governor said any reopening would be in coordination with neighboring states. For example, the capital district would coordinate with Massachusetts while the southern tier would consult with Pennsylvania.
“The regions that will more likely be able to open sooner are the upstate regions,” Cuomo said. “You take central New York, you take the North Country, you take the Mohawk Valley, these regions have seen lower numbers from Day One, so you would talk about construction and manufacturing …that doesn’t do anything that’s going to bring in people from all across the board.”
Downstate reopening will be more challenging, Cuomo acknowledged. New York City, Long Island and Westchester will operate together and would be in coordination with New Jersey and Connecticut. He stressed that coordination does not mean that every standard will be consistent with the neighboring states but being aware of what each state is doing.
Sunday’s announcement came as the state reported another 367 deaths on Saturday, bringing New York’s coronavirus death toll to 16,966. That includes 946 fatalities in Westchester and 43 in Putnam.