Governor Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that parts of upstate New York could reopen as soon as May 15 under a phased reopening plan. He cautioned that the Centers for Disease Control has said that coronavirus hospitalizations must decline for 14 days before reopening.
The death toll in the state on Saturday dropped to 367, falling again after a slight uptick on Friday. It marked the first time this month that the statewide daily death toll has been below 400. The number of new people who have been hospitalized fell to just above 1,000.
"Still, 1,000 new COVID cases yesterday, to put it in focus. That would normally be terrible news. It's only not terrible news compared to where we were," Cuomo said.
The infection rate has dropped to 0.8 in the state, meaning that on average, a person with COVID-19 infects less than one other person.
While saying that the state will reopen in "phases," Cuomo did not give many specifics. "On many of these things, I'm not comfortable getting too far ahead of ourselves," Cuomo said.
The construction and manufacturing upstate that are determined to be "low risk" will begin reopening in the first phase that is set to begin May 15, Cuomo said. After construction and manufacturing, Phase 2 would involve evaluating businesses on a case-by-case basis, determining how essential they are. He said there will be at least two weeks in between each phase.
Downstate state New York, which includes New York City and Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties, is more "problematic," he said. Any reopening downstate would have to be in coordination with New Jersey and Connecticut.
"Transportation, parks, schools, beaches, these are all coordinated activities, right? You turn one, they all have to turn. And that's true for New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, they all have to be coordinated. And again we're working with local businesses and leaders to do that," Cuomo said.
But, he said it's hard to imagine a "maximum Phase 2" reopening without considering school reopening.
Cuomo said summer activity in the city will be given special consideration. "You can't tell people in a dense urban environment, all through the summer months, we don't have anything for you to do, stay in your apartment with the three kids. You know? That doesn't work. There's a sanity equation here, also, that we have to take into consideration," Cuomo said.
He said sports may have to reimagine their business model to make themselves work without an audience.