Andrew Cuomo is finally starting to budge.
Regions of New York can start to open up on Friday, the Democratic governor said, as the Empire State continues to get control of the coronavirus, according to CBS News.
Cuomo announces reopening
Although rates of deaths and hospitalizations from COVID-19 have been declining in New York for some time, Cuomo has generally insisted on taking it slow in lifting restrictions. But the New York governor sounded a different note on Monday as he filled in details on reopening from the previous day’s briefing.
Three regions — the Southern Tier, Finger Lakes, and Mohawk Valley regions — had all met criteria to start easing lockdowns after Friday, Cuomo said at Monday’s briefing, CBS reported. The Democrat also heralded an “exciting new phase” for the Empire State, which recorded the most promising data since March 19, he said. The state had a death toll of 161 in the past day.
“That is just about where we started this horrific situation, before we went into the abyss of the COVID virus,” Cuomo remarked, according to CBS. “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 has divided the state into 10 regions, and they must all meet a set of seven criteria that he laid out last week before reopening, according to the local WXXI News. The opening will happen in four phases, with two weeks between each, NBC New York reports.
The first businesses to come back to life will be manufacturing and construction, and others can eventually follow in a cascade as guidelines are met.
“This is the next big step in this historic journey,” Gov. Cuomo said at Monday’s briefing, according to CBS.
Questions of science
Cuomo enacted his lockdown order on March 22, and in April, he extended the order to May 15 for the whole state, CBS reported. The governor has since faced backlash from lockdown protesters, but Cuomo has said that it’s necessary to follow “the science” and focus on the health threat over economic damage, NBC New York notes.
While upstate New York has seen lower rates of infection, New York City and the surrounding metro area is the hardest-hit single part of the country. Cuomo has generally said that downstate will probably take longer to open; New York City lagged the furthest behind, with just four criteria met as of Monday, the governor said, according to NBC New York.
In spite of the improvement, Cuomo has also warned that shutting down again is a possibility if the virus resurges. If a region stops meeting any criteria, a “circuit breaker” will kick in to freeze the reopening.
The easing comes after Cuomo said last week that it was “shocking” that some two-thirds of coronavirus patients were infected at home — an apparent contradiction of his admonitions to keep staying home.