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Governor Cuomo discusses phases of reopening New York

Posted at 2:02 PM, Apr 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-28 21:45:11-04

NEW YORK (WKBW) — During his Sunday press conference, Governor Andrew Cuomo provided details on the process to reopen the state.

Gov. Cuomo says the reopening will be done in "phases" following the PAUSE executive order, which is currently in place until May 15. Cuomo also stressed that the state must follow CDC guidelines before reopening. The guidelines say the state and regional COVID-19 hospitalization rate must be in decline for 14 days.

Phase one will include construction and manufacturing with a low risk.

Phase two involves opening more businesses considered essential and are a lower risk. Cuomo says businesses will be asked for ideas on how to safely operate.

When asked about the reopening of schools, he said schools may be part of phase two, but would not specify if they would be open for the remainder of the current school year or summer school.

"Schools are necessary for a large scale business reopening. So you couldn't really get to a maximum phase two without opening schools," said Cuomo.

The governor also announced that there will be "two weeks between phases to monitor effects."

Cuomo went on to say that there will continue to be no attractions or openings that would "draw a large number of visitors from outside the local area."

During a briefing in Buffalo, he announced the state would be reopening on a regional basis.

Tuesday, the governor released further guidelines the regions would have to follow as part of the reopening plan:

  1. CDC Guidelines: Based on CDC recommendations, once a region experiences a 14-day decline in the hospitalization rate they may begin a phased re-opening.
  2. Industries: Businesses in each region will re-open in phases. Phase one will include opening construction and manufacturing functions with low risk. Phase two will open certain industries based on priority and risk level. Businesses considered "more essential" with inherent low risks of infection in the workplace and to customers will be prioritized, followed by other businesses considered "less essential" or those that present a higher risk of infection spread. Regions must not open attractions or businesses that would draw a large number of visitors from outside the local area.
  3. Business Precautions: Each business and industry must have a plan to protect employees and consumers, make the physical work space safer and implement processes that lower risk of infection in the business.
  4. Building Health Care Capacity: To maintain the phased re-opening plan, each region must have at least 30 percent of hospital beds and ICU beds available after elective surgeries resume.
  5. Testing Regimen: Regions must implement a testing regimen that prioritizes symptomatic persons and individuals who came into contact with a known COVID-positive person, and conducts frequent tests of frontline and essential workers. Regions must maintain an appropriate number of testing sites to accommodate its population and must fully advertise where and how people can get tested. The region must also use the collected data to track and trace the spread of the virus.
  6. Tracing System: There must be at least 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 people. The region must also monitor the regional infection rate throughout the re-opening plan.
  7. Isolation Facilities: Regions must present plans to have rooms available for people who test positive for COVID-19 and who cannot self-isolate.
  8. Regional Coordination: Regions must coordinate the re-opening of schools, transportation systems, testing and tracing with other surrounding regions.
  9. Re-imagining Tele-Medicine
  10. Re-imagining Tele-Education
  11. Regional Control Rooms: Each region must appoint an oversight institution as its control room to monitor regional indicators during the phased re-opening, including hospital capacity, rate of infection, PPE burn rate and businesses.
  12. Protect and Respect Essential Workers: Regions must continue to ensure protections are in place for essential workers.

"We've come up with a phased plan to re-open New York so every region in the state has the same opening template as we begin this process," Governor Cuomo said. "We have to be smart about this - emotions can't drive our re-opening process - and we've come up with factual data points that each region must monitor as they begin to re-open. We've also created a New York Forward Re-Opening Advisory Board made up of business, academic, community and civic leaders from across the state to help guide this process and ensure businesses are following the necessary guidelines to preserve public health as we work towards a new normal."

Some members of Cuomo's advisory board include Buffalo Bills owner Kim Pegula, Dr. Katherine Conway-Turner, President of SUNY Buffalo State College and Nicole Wegman, Senior Vice President of Wegmans.