Gov. Andrew Cuomo has received predominantly stellar reviews over the past two months for his handling, or even more so, his messaging of the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic.
But perhaps the most valuable and substantive of his numerous valuable and substantive daily briefings have been in the last week with the outline of how New York State is going to slowly get back to work.
It’s not what anybody wants, at least not in a perfect world. But the analytical and deliberate blueprint for getting society moving again is the only credible way to get a skittish public to ease back into the world.
There are plenty of opinions circulating, including some locally, about getting back to normal. Everyone is antsy to return to their routines. It’s easy to become impatient, particularly those who’ve lost their livelihoods and don’t know when they will see a paycheck again.
But the risk of exposing too many people too fast is too large of gamble with such an easily transmissible and lethal virus.
First, it’s good to see someone follow the Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines for reopening. The fact that this national health institute has been minimized during the greatest public health threat in at least a century is a scandal.
It makes sense that it appears that three of the state’s most sparsely populated regions have met the metrics that have been devised by health officials. It also makes sense that there be testing, tracing and isolation to control the rate of infection and enough hospital capacity to handle any spikes. These are real standards, not fantastical make-believe reasons, that are easy to understand and that most of the public should be happy to embrace.
It’s also no surprise that New York City is trailing among the 10 regions. This virus loves to attack people, and the more of them that are around the better.
That Westchester and Putnam may have to wait an extra week or two shouldn’t be cause for concern. The hospitalizations, active cases and deaths have been trending downward for days. When the standards are met, there will be the public confidence necessary to dip our toes into the water again.
It’s critical as a society we get this right. We’ve seen enough illness, death and despair the last two months to last a lifetime.