NEW YORK – At Monday's press conference, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the Southern Tier is among three regions in the state eligible to begin a phased reopening of businesses.
Calling it a “new chapter” for the state – a focus on a careful reopening, rather than a daily tracking of a growing health emergency, he said that the Southern Tier, the Finger Lakes, and the Mohawk Valley meet the criteria necessary to open.
Cuomo said each region must meet seven criteria to reopen, and continue to meet those criteria to stay open. The metrics involve daily infection cases, sufficient surplus hospital beds, and sufficient testing and tracing. Businesses will submit their plans for implementation of public health safety measures to their regional council, and each regional council will approve those reopenings on a case by case basis.
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos was the top name on a list of members of the Southern Tier Regional Council.
The regional councils will be responsible for creating what the governor called a regional control room, with members from the fields of healthcare, education and government, which will monitor the infection rates and other criteria on a daily basis. Those control rooms will be empowered to slow down the reopening if the infection rates begin to climb again.
The regional councils will also, he said, be responsible for making sure safe day care is available for people returning to their jobs as businesses begin to reopen.
“This is the next big step in this historic journey,” Cuomo said. “We're on the other side of the mountain, and nobody wants to go back.”
He cautioned that the success of the reopening will depend on the people of New York, just as the state's success in slowing the spread of the virus was a direct result of public actions.
“We averted tragedy,” he said. “I did one thing right as governor that I'm proud of. I got the people involved to a degree they probably hadn't been in history. State government can't enforce anything we did. People had to understand the facts and engage in governing themselves. That's the one thing I did right.”
All the numbers related to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the exception of newly discovered complications for children, are decreasing. The numbers of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths are, at this point, according to the governor, “where we were when we started on March 19.”
There are now 93 cases of inflammatory illnesses affecting children, a number that has increased each day since they were first reported this past weekend.
The bottom line, he said, is that the public will determine whether the state can successfully reopen for business.
“People need to be part of this. Understand the plan. Hold me accountable. Hold local officials accountable. This is about keeping your family safe and healthy.”