Governor says Long Island could soon begin first phase of reopening

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday expressed optimism that Long Island could be in line to begin Phase 1 of reopening within the coming days if the decline in hospital deaths continues and contact tracing comes online.

The only other New York regions still waiting to begin Phase 1 are Mid-Hudson and New York City.

While the metric for hospital bed availability for Long Island had fallen under the requirement in recent days, it was back at the minimum 30% threshold, according to the latest data shown Friday. Hospitals must have a minimum of 30% of their beds available to be ready for any potential surge in COVID-19 patients.

“If the number of deaths continues to decline the way it has and they get their tracing online — every region has a certain number of tracers that they need to reopen — both [Long Island and Mid-Hudson] could reopen this week,” the governor said.

Mr. Cuomo said construction staging will be permitted for Long Island in anticipation of Phase 1.

“Before you can begin construction, you have to have staged the construction,” Mr. Cuomo said. “The materials have to be on-site, etc. The safety precautions have to be on-site.”

Also included in the first phase is limited retail (curbside or in-store pickup or drop off); agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting; manufacturing and wholesale trade.

No region has yet started Phase 2, which would fully open retail, as well as professional services, administrative support and real estate. Restaurants are currently listed as Phase 3.

The number of new COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state continues to decline and is now on par with the figures seen when the outbreak first began. Just over 200 new hospitalizations were reported yesterday in the state. There were as many as 3,000 in one day during the peak of the outbreak in early April.

There were still another 109 fatalities reported yesterday in the state, a slight increase from the prior day. There have been 676 fatalities in the state in the last six days.

• The governor also announced the state is starting its own small business relief program that will work with private banks to distribute more than $100 million in loans.

The program will be geared toward small businesses with 20 or fewer employees and less than $3 million in gross revenues.

“We’re going to be focusing on true small businesses,” Mr. Cuomo said, adding that minority and women business owners who have not received any funding will also be prioritized.

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