With the May 15 expiration of the current NY PAUSE restrictions on business and social activity in New York state, drive-in movie theaters can resume operations statewide along with low-risk recreational businesses such as tennis facilities, it was announced today by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo at a news conference in Rochester.
Landscaping and gardening businesses also will be allowed to reopen throughout the state. Elsewhere, a regional approach will be in effect with groups of local government officials and other leaders making reopening decisions based on trends in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths.
Overall, there are four phases defining the order in which businesses will be allowed to reopen. Phase One includes: construction; manufacturing and wholesale supply chain; retail – curbside pickup; and agriculture, forestry and fishing.
Phase Two includes: professional services; finance and insurance; retail; administrative support; and real estate including rental and leasing.
Phase Three includes: restaurants and food services; and hotels and accommodations.
Phase Four includes: arts, entertainment and recreation; and education.
Westchester County has been designated as part of the Hudson Valley region and the decision making “control room” for the region consists of 11 people. They are: Westchester County Executive George Latimer; Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano; Rockland County Executive Ed Day; Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus; Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell; Sullivan County Manager Joshua Potosek; Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan; Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro; Tom Carey, AFL-CIO Westchester-Putnam Central Labor president; Jonathan Drapkin, president and CEO of Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress; and Mike Hein, former Ulster County executive.
Local officials will be charged with ensuring that businesses comply with any state and local requirements regarding reopening. They also will be responsible for monitoring infection rates and ensuring that there is adequate testing for COVID-19 and tracing of contacts by infected people. They will need to have a circuit breaker in place that can be used to slow down the rate of business activity if numbers of infections and hospitalizations begin to rise.
Business safety precautions include: maintaining social distancing; restricting nonessential travel; adjusting workplace hours and shifts; maintaining strict cleaning and sanitation standards; using masks if there are frequent personal contacts; conducting health screenings prior to entry into facilities; and tracing, tracking and reporting.
The other regions in addition to the Hudson Valley are: Long Island; New York City; North Country; Mohawk Valley; Central New York; Western New York; Southern Tier; Capital Region and the Finger Lakes. Cuomo indicated that the Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley and Southern Tier regions appeared on track in terms of data to begin the reopening phases immediately when NY PAUSE expires.
“Some states have not coordinated their actions,” Cuomo said. “You’ve confused the general public. It has to be coordinated and it has to be at least in a region.”
Cuomo criticized other states that are proceeding with business openings even though they’re not meeting federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for safe reopenings. He pointed to a crush of more than 60,000 out-of-state people into Georgia seeking haircuts and other services when that state rushed to reopen.
“There’s a lot of pressure to open, I know. But pressure doesn’t mean you act unintelligently, right? Some states open and then saw a rush of people from surrounding states. We’ve talked about that here. The concept of an attractive nuisance,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo said New York succeeded in keeping the impact of COVID-19 far below what some projections said would happen because its residents were kept in the loop and worked to comply with best practices. He emphasized that the impact of COVID-19 on New York is declining while it is rising elsewhere in the U.S.
“This is people who are solving the problem,” Cuomo said. “From day one this was of such a magnitude that, unless people engaged and understood and bought into this, government was impotent. Government, state government can’t enforce any of these things that we did – stay in the house, close every school, close every business – state government can’t enforce that. People had to understand the facts and people had to engage in governing themselves in a way they hadn’t in decades.”
Without mentioning the Trump administration by name, Cuomo ruminated, “I’m still trying to figure out when government got to a place, or when society got to a place, where people would accept the lack of professionalism in government, the lack of competence from elected officials. I don’t know when government became so political and it all became about rhetoric rather than actual competence. But, it happened somewhere along the way. That government could not handle this situation.”
Trump on Monday took to Twitter to complain that for political reasons Democratic governors are moving too slowly to reopen their states. He did not produce any evidence to support that claim.
Statewide there have been a total of 21,640 COVID-19 deaths according to statistics obtained this afternoon from the state Department of Health. Yesterday, there were 161 deaths in the state, the lowest number since March 27. There have been a total of 1,349 deaths in Westchester. Rockland saw 453 of its residents fall victim to the virus. There have been 58 deaths in Putnam. The virus has killed 319 Orange County residents. There were 106 deaths in Dutchess.
New York has had 337,055 people test positive for the virus. There were 31,384 cases identified in Westchester, 12,484 in Rockland, 1,098 in Putnam, 9,584 in Orange and 3,378 in Duchess.
The U.S today had 1,376,317 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 81,157 deaths. Worldwide, the pandemic stood at 4,231,897 cases reported with 285,480 deaths.