Even though the Mid-Hudson Region of New York state has not yet met all seven criteria to be cleared to begin the process of reopening the economy, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo today said that staging work can immediately begin at the region’s construction sites.
Cuomo said there’s an anticipation that the region will be cleared to begin reopening sometime next week. Construction is allowed to resume during the first phase of the state’s four-phase reopening plan.
Cuomo also said that the same thing applies to the Long Island region because it is also anticipated that it will be cleared to begin reopening next week. That would leave only New York City yet to qualify for reopening.
“Before you can begin construction you have to have staged the construction, the materials have to be on site, etcetera, safety precautions have to be on site, so we’re going to allow construction staging now for the Long Island and Mid-Hudson,” Cuomo said.
Reopening would be contingent on the number of COVID-19 deaths continuing to decrease and both regions setting up programs to trace contacts made by persons who have the virus.
Cuomo said that the state, in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, has developed a comprehensive online curriculum to train potential contract tracers. The state is offering to share that curriculum at no cost with other states to help speed up the process of creating conact tracing programs throughout the U.S.
Cuomo said there are now more than 750 independent testing sites in New York state with the signing of 52 independent pharmacies to provide COVID-19 testing. He said that the state now has more capacity for testing than it has demand for tests.
“Get a test. If you have any symptoms of COVID, which are basically the same symptoms as the flu, if you have any symptoms, get a test,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo was critical of the federal recovery programs that offered large amounts of funding to public companies, financial firms and restaurant chains. He said that they did not do a good job of serving small businesses and announced the launch of the New York Forward Loan Fund.
The state will be offering loans to truly small businesses from a pool of more than $100 million from cooperating banks.
Loans will be available to businesses that did not receive federal COVID-19 assistance with a focus on women- and minority-owned businesses in the state.
“Small businesses are taking a real beating in this situation,” Cuomo said. “They are 90% of New York’s businesses and they’re facing the toughest challenges. The economic projections vis-a-vis small business are actually frightening. One-hundred-thousand have shut permanently since the pandemic hit. Many small businesses just don’t have the staying power to continue to pay all the fixed costs, the lease, etcetera, when they have no income whatever.”
Cuomo said that to qualify for New York Forward, businesses would have to have 20 or fewer employees and gross revenues of less than $3 million. He said businesses interested in applying for a loan could visit the website esd.ny.gov/forwardloans.
In wishing everyone a good Memorial Day Weekend, Cuomo noted that it was first celebrated on May 5, 1866, in Waterloo In 1966, the U.S. Congress and President Lyndon B. Johnson formally declared Seneca County village to be the “birthplace” of Memorial Day.
The governor reminded people who may be going out over the weekend that wearing a mask is mandatory on public transportation, when using for-hire vehicles or private transit operators and when in public within 6 feet of another person.
Cuomo said there were 109 deaths reported yesterday in the state, 27 in nursing homes and 82 in hospitals. Statewide there have been a total of 23,195 COVID-19 deaths according to statistics obtained this afternoon from the state Department of Health.
Deaths in Westchester total 1,444. Rockland saw 487 of its residents fall victim to the virus. There were no new deaths in Putnam again yesterday, with the total remaining at 59, where it has been for several days. There were no new deaths of Orange County residents reported yesterday with the total remaining at 360. There was one additional death in Dutchess County bringing the total there to 136.
New York has had 358,154 people test positive for the virus. There were 32,767 cases identified in Westchester, 12,905 in Rockland, 1,187 in Putnam, 10,142 in Orange and 3,767 in Dutchess.