Governor outlines additional details into how regions will manage reopening plans; Bellone says upstate likely first

(Updated: 4 p.m.)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday outlined additional details into how a reopening plan would begin to unfold in different regions of the state and presented a chart showing no region currently meets all the criteria.

The first phase of reopening would include construction, manufacturing and wholesale supply chain as well as select retail offering curbside pickup. The second phase would include professional services, finance and insurance, retail, administrative support and real estate/rental leasing. Restaurants, food services and hotels would fall under a third phase. The fourth phase would be education, arts/entertainment and recreation.

“Remember, density is not your friend. Large gatherings are not your friend. That’s where the virus tends to spread. That’s why those situations would be down at the end,” the governor said when speaking about Phase 4.

Details on a timeline for how those phases would be implemented were not immediately clear, but he did say the earliest it could begin is when the executive order NY PAUSE expires May 15. During a later press briefing, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said it’s likely phase one would occur upstate first.

“We would come in some time behind that,” Mr. Bellone said after stressing that May 15 is not a guaranteed date for the beginning of the reopening anywhere in New York.

The governor had previously said there would be at least two weeks between the start of the first and second phases.

Long Island remains a “higher-risk” region. The regions at “lower risk” — all located upstate — can begin reopening first.

The main measurements for monitoring and implementing reopening in a certain region remain:

• Monitoring new infections

• Health care capacity

• Diagnostic testing capacity

• Contact tracing capacity

“If the infection goes too high, you overwhelm your health system,” he said.

Mr. Cuomo outlined 10 more specific measurements that a region and its local government must constantly monitor on a day-to-day basis.

Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say regions must have at least 14 days of decline in total hospitalizations and deaths on a three-day rolling average. Regions also can’t 15 total new cases or five new deaths on a three-day rolling average.

To monitor the potential spread of infection, a region must have fewer than two new COVID patients admitted per 100,000 residents per day.

As has previously been reported, hospitals must have at least 30% total capacity and ICU beds available to account for any potential surges in cases.

“A person who gets infected today shows up in the hospital 10 days or two weeks from today,” Mr. Cuomo said. “There’s a lag to it.”

Mr. Bellone said there was a slight uptick in hospitalizations Sunday, but because the state monitors based on a three-day rolling average it likely wouldn’t delay a reopening here. Mr. Bellone said there are currently 817 people hospitalized in Suffolk County, which is at 73% capacity. ICU capacity is just above 70%, he said.

Mr. Bellone said one thing the county will have to keep an eye on is the impact elective surgeries will soon have on the hospitalization rate.

Another new requirement the governor announced over the weekend is that hospitals must have at least 90 days of personal protective equipment stockpiled.

The governor said 1 million residents in the state have now been tested for the coronavirus. A recommendation from the CDC is a region has 30 tests for every 1,000 residents per month. Contact tracers is another element and the baseline is 30 for every 100,000 residents.

“This has never existed before on this scale,” the governor said. “A group of people who literally trace contacts from a person who’s positive. Who did you have dinner with last night? Two nights ago? Who might you have been in contact with?”

Mr. Cuomo said the businesses to reopen first are those that are most essential with the lowest risk.

Businesses that do reopen will need additional precautions in place to account for social distancing, masks, cleaning and sanitation standards and more.

“That’s going to be up to business to come up with ways to reconfigure their workplace and their processes to make this work. And that’s business by business.”

The most recent data shows an additional 226 fatalities linked to the coronavirus in New York in May 3. Nearly 800 deaths per day were reported during the peak. There have been 1,730 total deaths in the state since April 28. Total fatalities now stands at 19,415.

New COVID-19 hospitalizations per day in the state is just above 700. That number had surpassed 3,000 during the peak. Total hospitalizations in the state continue to decline and dipped under 10,000 Sunday for the first time in several weeks.