(Updated on 5/11 at 4:20 p.m.)
IRONDEQUOIT, N.Y. — New York State’s COVID-19 lockdown is poised to partially end across the Mohawk Valley and Southern Tier — and likely Central New York and North County as well — starting this Friday with a phased reopening, Gov. Andrew Cuomo indicated Monday.
“We start a new chapter today. It’s an exciting new phase,” Cuomo said at his daily COVID-19 briefing, which was held at Rochester Regional Health in Irondequoit. “This is the next big step in this historic journey.”
The Mohawk Valley and Southern Tier already meet all seven requirements for reopening, according to the governor. The North Country and Central New York meet six of the seven metrics, as of Monday, and are close to checking off the seventh box soon.
Central New York and the North Country are both a little shy of the benchmark that a region test 30 of every 1,000 residents per month, based on a seven-day average of new tests per day. Central New York’s seven-day average of tests is 647 per day as of Monday and needs to rise to 775. The North Country’s average is currently 400 and needs to hit 419, according to data Cuomo showed on the screen at his briefing.
Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon, at his Monday coronavirus briefing in Syracuse, once again expressed strong confidence that the CNY region would meet the testing benchmark once the seven-day average calculation fully reflected the increased testing of recent days.
For example, Onondaga County, alone, did about 1,000 tests in the last day, far above the 775 required for the entire region.
“We will be able to hit a seven-day average by the end-of-day Wednesday that qualifies us no matter what kind of math you use,” McMahon told reporters at the Oncenter. “We’re going to hit the numbers. Testing is not going to hold this region back from restart.”
He explained that there is a delay in the process of county-level test data being reflected in New York Department of Health numbers shown at Cuomo’s daily briefings. McMahon said the county and region will work out the discrepancy with the state. “It’s impossible we don’t meet our number,” he added.
Under the “NY PAUSE” directive, non-essential businesses have been shut across the state since March 22 and that order is set to expire Friday.
For regions that meet all seven reopening requirements, the phased reopening of businesses starting May 15 will include construction; manufacturing and wholesale supply chain; all retailers using curbside pickup; and agriculture, forestry, and fishing, Cuomo said. The fourth category was added Monday.
Businesses that reopen will, of course, be required to implement social distancing and other safety measures to keep their staff safe and limit the possibility for infection.
Cuomo said that New York will also open statewide “certain low-risk business and recreational activities,” as of this Friday. Those include landscaping and gardening; outdoor, low-risk recreational activities (tennis, for example); and drive-in movie theaters.