Workers in the construction and manufacturing industries will likely head back to work in the state’s first phase of reopening the economy, which could come in less than three weeks, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday.
The second phase of the state’s reopening, to come later, is expected to drag out over a period of several weeks, with the state approving businesses to reopen on a case-by-case basis.
The state doesn’t have an exact date for when either phase will begin, but Cuomo said Sunday that the first steps of the reopening plan could happen as early as May 16th. That’s assuming the state’s COVID-19 numbers continue to trend in a positive direction.
Those decisions will also be made on a regional basis, Cuomo said. Even if statewide hospitalizations continue to decrease, a region with less favorable numbers may have to wait for their economy to reopen, Cuomo said.
“We’re assuming we’ll have seen a decline in the state for 14 days,” Cuomo said. “But, what regions of the state have seen a decline for 14 days — that’s where you will start the conversation to get to phase one within that region.”
Cuomo said the North Country, Central New York, and the Mohawk Valley are likely to reopen before other areas of the state. The disease hasn’t hit those regions as hard as other areas, Cuomo said, making them early candidates for a phased-in reopening.
“Those regions have seen lower numbers from day one,” Cuomo said.
It’s more complicated downstate, Cuomo said, where decisions to reopen schools and businesses will involve a multi-state approach. On top of coordinating New York City and the surrounding counties, the states of Connecticut and New Jersey will also be involved.
But any plan to reopen businesses will hinge on the number of hospitalizations from COVID-19, which continued to decline statewide Sunday. The number of people hospitalized, as of Saturday, reached 12,839 — the lowest level since the end of March.
Guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control requires that states observe a 14-day decline in the prevalence of COVID-19 before they begin to reopen their economy. The number of new hospitalizations in New York has declined for the last nine days.
Assuming that trend continues, New York will begin its first phase of reopening, on a regional business, by allowing construction to resume, and permitting manufacturers to continue operations. Those businesses will be required to take precautions to prevent infection.
The second phase will be broken out into several different stages. Businesses deemed by the state to be more essential than others, but also at a lower risk of spreading COVID-19, will be allowed to open first.
The state will require, during the second phase, that businesses submit plans for reopening that explain how they’ll prevent further infections. When an industry is approved to reopen, the state will take a wait-and-see approach before allowing more businesses to come online.
Regions will also be barred from allowing events or attractions that would draw a large number of visitors from another area, Cuomo said. That’s to prevent people from flocking to that area from another region, where the disease may be more prevalent.
From a statewide perspective, the disease continued to trend downward Sunday. Aside from a decrease in hospitalizations from COVID-19, the net number of intubations also declined by 115 to 3,577. An additional 1,423 were discharged Saturday.
The number of people tested for the coronavirus increased by 5,902, which is a smaller increase compared to recent days. The total number of identified cases in New York reached 288,045, as of Saturday, according to the state.
An additional 367 people died from the disease Saturday, Cuomo said. That brings the statewide recorded number of fatalities since the beginning of March to 16,966.