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New Yorkers are breathing a little easier after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the plan to do a phased reopening of the state. If things continue along the path they are on now, the plan will start rolling out on May 15 and probably in the upstate area before New York City.
Cuomo also announced in his press briefing that the daily deaths dropped to 367 on Sunday. This is the lowest the count has been since 799 people died on April 9. This leaves the total fatalities at 16,966.
This was the first time for Cuomo to discuss reopening the state with any detail. It will begin with construction and manufacturing opening, and after that, it will be businesses, based on how essential they are. While it should start on May 15, for that to happen, there will have to be a drop in hospitalizations for at least two weeks.
Hospitalizations at this time have dropped for the ninth consecutive day, this time to 1,087. There were 5,902 cases, which is down for 10,553. There have been 288,045 total cases.
Cuomo said there will be a two-week pause after the first phase of the reopenings to allow time to assess the progress through new hospitalizations, new cases, and testing for antibodies. He is setting a barometer that one person must only infect one other person.
Opening New York City will be more complicated than upstate, added the governor, as it's more dense and more connected to Long Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey. It will take a reimagining of workplaces, schools, and public places to keep COVID-19 contained.
"How are you going to protect your people?" asked Cuomo. "What are you going to do differently with your employees? What does the physical space look like when you reopen in this new normal? What's the access? What's the screening? How do you move people?"
Cuomo has thus far been very critical of the federal government for not helping state budgets, yet at the same time, he is also announcing that there will be billions of dollars in cuts to the state and that it will particularly hurt localities.
"I can't tell you how alarmed we were," said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday. "If New York City cannot provide basic services, then there won't be a restart of the economy in New York City or New York State."
Yet, reopening is also on the mayor's mind. If new hospital admissions continue to decline for two weeks, officials will begin to loosen the stay-at-home requirements and reopen schools, businesses, and cultural institutions.
de Blasio has created a task force to advise on the reopening, pulling from the city's cultural, nonprofit, labor, and financial sectors. It will include Richard Ravitch, who was a leader when the city came back from its fiscal crisis in 1975. More economic fairness and opportunity will be a key goal.
"Normal isn't good enough for our future," he said. "I'm aspiring to something new and better, addressing all these inequalities while building up a strong city."
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