Putnam, Rockland County Execs Ask Cuomo to Move to Phase 3 on Friday

We are part of The Trust Project

Four Republican county executives from the Mid-Hudson region appealed to Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a joint letter Thursday to accelerate the Phase 3 reopening to Friday, four days ahead of schedule.

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, Rockland County Executive Ed Day, Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro and Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus explained that with the state’s COVID-19 data steadily improving and all the precautions having been followed by local communities, the region was ready to move ahead.

“The data you rely on for your decision-making process is positive,” the letter stated. “We have moved through Memorial Day, hot summer weekends and large protests and have not seen an uptick in case numbers. We are being responsible, not only in monitoring the data, but by being proactive at all times.

“Our businesses have submitted their affirmations by the thousands; they have created thorough health and safety plans based on New York State’s guidance. Thanks to your leadership we have a strong contact tracing program in place. We are ready to take the next step.”

At least part of the motivation to asking for Phase 3 to begin before the weekend would be the addition of limited indoor seating for this Sunday, which is Father’s Day, for the region’s restaurants. The current Phase 2 allows only for distanced outdoor seating while the next phase allows restaurants’ interiors to accommodate up to 50 percent capacity.

By pushing up the start of Phase 3, the four county executives explained that it would also would potentially allow the region to reach Phase 4 in time for the Fourth of July weekend and for businesses and the public to enjoy greater commercial and personal freedoms.

The Mid-Hudson region is on course to begin Phase 3 on Tuesday, and if all data continues to trend well, to start Phase 4 on July 7.

The letter also explained that the governor had relented on several other restrictions in recent weeks, including allowing for outdoor dining in Phase 2 and houses of worship to resume services at 25 percent of capacity.

Late Thursday afternoon there had been no response from the governor’s office regarding the county executives’ request.

In recent days, Cuomo has pointed to the shrinking statewide hospitalizations and COVID-19 transmission rates. On Wednesday, there were only 1,358 virus-related hospitalizations statewide and just under a 0.9 percent transmission rate. There were 68,541 tests administered on Wednesday and just 618 positives were reported.

On Wednesday, the transmission rate in the Mid-Hudson region dipped to 0.6 percent, with just 51 positive results out of 7,881 tests administered.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer, who said he wasn’t invited to lend his name to the letter, mentioned Thursday that he would support an earlier opening to Phase 3 if that’s what Cuomo chose to do. He pointed out that the governor is trying to achieve a delicate balance of responding to communities while maintaining public health.

“I would like to see us accelerate the opening,” Latimer said. “I think we have shown the reduction in the spread. The numbers prove it and over an extended period of time, and if we could open sooner rather than later, it would be a positive.”

County Opens Miniature Golf

Latimer announced Thursday that Westchester has begun opening the three county-owned and operated miniature golf facilities.

Miniature golf at Saxon Woods in White Plains opened Thursday while the Playland miniature golf course in Rye will be open this weekend, then go to a Wednesday through Sunday schedule starting June 26.

The third miniature golf location to open will be at Tibbetts Brook Park in Yonkers.

Latimer said the county has been looking to safely add recreational options as the state and the region continue to progress through the reopening phases. Bicycle Sundays will continue through the summer and into September and the county’s six public golf courses have been operating. Beaches at Playland and Croton Point Park opened over Memorial Day weekend and four of the five county pools will be open by July 3, with restrictions.

Westchester to Observe Juneteenth

Latimer said that Westchester County offices will be closed on Friday in observance of Juneteenth. June 19 is the 155th anniversary of slaves being freed in Galveston, Texas following the conclusion of the Civil War.

On Wednesday, Cuomo signed an executive order authorizing Friday as a state holiday and supports a bill next year to permanently make Juneteenth a state holiday.

We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.