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Coronavirus Reopening: Cuomo Outlines May 15 Regional Reopening Criteria

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Starting May 15, some regions in New York may be able to slowly restart the economy.

First, they have to meet different benchmarks laid out by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Monday, the governor said construction is among the industries that will be first to get to work. There are seven benchmarks, and downstate New York is nowhere close to meeting them.

According to Cuomo, restarting the economy is going to be much harder than shutting it down.

Governor Cuomo Outlines Additional Guidelines for When Regions Can Re-Open by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on YouTube

On the topic of reopening, he said it would be "more complicated then the close down," which he called "a blunt operation."

Reopening is "more nuanced, you have to be more careful," the governor said.

The reopening will be phased and work hand-in-hand with measuring certain metrics.

"It's not going to happen state-wide," Cuomo said. "And rather than wait for the whole state to be ready, reopen on a regional basis. If upstate has to wait for downstate to be ready, they're going to be waiting a long time. So, analyze the situation on a regional basis."


When New York on PAUSE expires May 15, some regions in the state may be giving the green light for certain industries to resume.

"Phase one we're talking about construction, manufacturing and select retail with curbside pick up," Cuomo said.

Finance and professional services would be next, then restaurants and hotels, and entertainment and education are last.

"Remember density is not your friend here. Large gatherings are not your friend," Cuomo said.

But first, regions have to meet a stringent set of requirements which includes two weeks of declining hospitalizations and deaths. The number of new cases have to drastically decrease. Hospitals can't be completely filled with COVID-19 patients, and increased testing with robust contact tracing must also be established to identify and isolate those with the disease.

For a region to reopen, it must:

  • According to CDC guidelines, a region has to have at least 14 days of decline in total hospitalizations and deaths on a three day rolling average
  • Regions with few COVID-19 cases can not have 15 new cases or five deaths on a three day rolling average
  • A region must have fewer than two new COVID-19 patients per 100,000 residents per day
  • Hospitals can't be filled to more than 70% capacity - including ICU beds - leaving 30% available in the event of a surge
  • All hospitals must have a 90 day stockpile of PPE
  • There must be 30 tests per 1,000 residents ready to go
  • Regions must have 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents, with additional tracers available based on the projected number of cases in the region
  • A risk/reward analysis of which businesses can reopen, with most essential businesses with lowest risk being prioritized
    • Phase 1: Construction, manufacturing and wholesale supply chain, select retail with curbside pickup
    • Phase 2: Professional services, finance and insurance, retail administrative support, real estate/rental leasing
    • Phase 3: Restaurants/food services, hotels/accommodations
    • Phase 4: Arts/entertainment/recreation/education
  • Businesses must adjust their practices to ensure a safe work environment and track cases
  • There will be a regional "control room" to monitor progress

"This is what a community has to deal with to reopen safely and intelligently, in my opinion," Cuomo said.

WEB EXTRA: See Cuomo's Presentation On Reopening Criteria (.pdf)

"I'm pleased to say we have three indicators now, and all three are down today. So congratulations New York City this is the kind of day we have been waiting for," said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Progress, but the city meets three of the seven benchmarks to reopen the economy. And Long Island is the least prepared in the state. Issues include addressing deaths that have not met the 14 day decline.

Still, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said when the region meets the benchmarks, reopening could look much different than the city.

"I believe our timeline, because our needs are different, our geography is different, our density is different, will be different from New York City's," Curran said.

Even if for now businesses have to remain closed, owners are challenged to begin to adjust and reimagine the new realities reopening will present, so they can be ready when the time comes.

As it stands today, no region in the state meets all of the requirements, though the central part of the state is closest. Most only need to get more coronavirus tests before being given the green light.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

More than one million tests have been given in New York so far, Cuomo said.

Overall, the number of hospitalizations, intubations and new cases of coronavirus continues to decline in New York.

There were an additional 226 deaths.

"That's 226 wives or brothers or sisters or children that are now suffering the loss of a loved one," Cuomo said.

Cuomo again reiterated that New York must learn the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic even as it continues to fight it. Among those lessons: Know what you don't know. He pointed to everyone looking at China as the source for the pandemic that hit New York City. Cuomo said that while everyone was looking at China, the virus traveled to Europe, and the CDC found the strain that is rampant on the East Coast came via Europe.

Another lesson, according to the governor: Reopening too soon or unintelligently can prompt an immediate backlash. He pointed to the Spanish Flu as an example of that, where there were multiple waves.

PHOTO GALLERY: Coronavirus Shutdown 30 Days In

"Acknowledge and actualize that the truth is that nobody knows what happens next and when it happens," Cuomo said. "So if you don't know, say you don't know.

"When you know what you don't know and admit it, it will actually keep you safe," Cuomo said. "And that's where we are. We don't know, but we will be prepared for all possibilities."

Cuomo said the measures the state has taken so far has saved at least 100,000 lives, if you go by the initial projections of the spread of the virus.

Cuomo continued to reiterate New Yorkers should wear masks when they're near other people, saying to not do so is "disrespectful."

Cuomo said nobody's to blame for the nation not having the ability to test millions of people, saying we find ourselves in a brand new situation.

Cuomo said every state is struggling to deal with the huge increase in unemployment claims that are coming in. New York has hired 3,000 people to help with its unemployment processing.

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