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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo touts "exciting new phase" as virus cases continue to decline

Cuomo on N.Y. preparing to get back to work
Cuomo: "We're all anxious to get back to work" after peak of COVID-19 outbreak 05:56

New York State had 488 new confirmed COVID-19 cases reported in the past 24 hours along with 161 deaths related to coronavirus-related illness. Governor Andrew Cuomo said it was the best daily metrics on record since March 19.

"That is just about where we started this horrific situation, before we went into the abyss of the COVID virus," Cuomo said during Monday's daily COVID-19 briefing. "We're on the other side of the mountain. It's an exciting new phase we're all anxious to get back to work."

Cuomo said several regions of upstate New York that have shown progress in taming the coronavirus outbreak are ready to gradually restart economic activity by the end of the week.

Cuomo shut down the entire state March 22 as the New York City area emerged as a global pandemic hot spot, but the outbreak has been less severe in the state's smaller cities and rural areas. He said three upstate regions have met all criteria for opening some business activity after May 15: the Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley and the Finger Lakes. Other upstate regions are making and could follow soon after.

The reopening regions still need to work out logistics, such as creating regional "control rooms" to monitor the effects of the reopening.

"This is the next big step in this historic journey," the Democratic governor said at his daily briefing.

Rise in deaths from mystery illness possibly connected to COVID-19 01:59

New York's first tentative steps toward reopening follow other states that have already relaxed restrictions.

Cuomo last week said regions of the state could phase in re-opening if they met seven conditions. COVID-19-related deaths and hospitalizations needed to be trending down and there must be enough hospital beds to meet a surge. Counties have to beef up testing and contact tracing. And businesses will need to take steps to protect workers.

The economic re-opening will happen in four phases. The first businesses that can open will include construction, manufacturing and retail with curb-side pickup.

Additionally, landscaping and gardening businesses and drive-in theaters can open statewide, the governor said.

In a nod to social activities, Cuomo said the state also is relaxing restrictions on low-risk outdoor activities such as tennis.

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