Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday he believes New York has finally “turned the page” on the COVID-19 pandemic, for now at least, and that it’s time to refocus on “supercharging” the economy.
Cuomo began the day by ringing the bell to reopen New York’s stock exchange after a two-month shut down. Wall Street is not only a symbol of New York and the nation’s economy, it also generates 17% of state’s revenues.
The governor, speaking during his daily coronavirus briefing in the boardroom of the stock exchange, announced all areas of the state except New York City are either in the first phase of reopening or will begin later this week. He said it’s time to jump start the economy, and one of the ways is building public works projects.
New York’s ongoing infrastructure projects will “accelerate,” including the long delayed renovation of Penn Station, the redesign of LaGuardia Airport and building renewable power transmission lines that link Canadian power to New York, Cuomo said.
He’ll also meet with President Donald Trump in Washington on Wednesday to discuss an infrastructure program with federal funds for state projects.
“You want to restart the economy, you want to reopen the economy, let’s do something creative, let’s do it fast, let’s put Americans back to work,” Cuomo said.
The projects the governor is seeking funding for include a train to New York’s major airports and the replacement of the 110-year-old commuter rail tunnels under the Hudson River from New York to New Jersey. Trump in the past has resisted providing money to what’s known as the Gateway project.
Cuomo said the public works projects would provide needed jobs in an economy that will likely still be struggling for some time. He expects the recovery to be “uneven,” with layoffs in some industries that will harm workers.
“I believe it bounces back, but it bounces back differently,” he said. “There will be winners and losers.”
Cuomo said the economic recovery will only happen if the infection rate keeps dropping, noting everyone will have to get used to wearing protective masks for a while. He even predicts masks will become trendy, with people coordinating their outfits with the color of their masks.
“This has to be part of who we are and what we do every day,” he said.
The thousands of contact tracers being hired around the state will also be key to identifying and containing any virus hotspots going forward, Cuomo added.