State will monitor 4 core factors to determine if a region can reopen: Number of new infections, health care capacity, diagnostic testing capacity and contact tracing capacity
Outlines new safety precautions each business must put in place upon reopening
More than 1 million New Yorkers have tested for COVID-19 to date
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday outlined additional guidelines for when regions can reopen. The state will monitor four core factors:
•New Infections: Based on guidelines from the CDC, regions must have at least 14 days of decline in total net hospitalizations and deaths on a three-day rolling average. In regions with few COVID cases, the region cannot exceed 15 net new total hospitalizations or five new deaths on a three-day rolling average. In order to monitor the potential spread of infection in a region, a region must have fewer than two new COVID patients admitted per 100,000 residents per day.
•Health Care Capacity: Every region must have the health care capacity to handle a potential surge in cases. Regions must have at least 30% total hospital and ICU beds available. This is coupled with the new requirement that hospitals have at least 90 days of personal protective equipment stockpiled.
•Diagnostic Testing Capacity: Each region must have the capacity to conduct 30 diagnostic tests for every 1,000 residents per month. The state is rapidly expanding capacity statewide to help all regions meet this threshold.
•Contact Tracing Capacity: Regions must have a baseline of 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents, and additional tracers based on the projected number of cases in the region. The state is currently building an army of contact tracers with Mayor Michael Bloomberg to meet the needs of each region statewide.
Cuomo also outlined which industries and businesses can open in each phase of the state's reopening plan. Businesses considered "more essential" with inherent low risks of infection in the workplace and to customers will be prioritized, followed by other businesses considered "less essential" or those that present a higher risk of infection spread. Regions must not open attractions or businesses that would draw a large number of visitors from outside the local area.
(Images courtesy of the Office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo)
The governor noted new safety precautions that each business must put in place upon reopening to help lower the risk of spreading the coronavirus. Businesses will be required to:
In her afternoon update on LCTV, Niagara County Legislature Chairwoman Becky Wydysh said, “We know the ‘New York State on PAUSE’ order is extended to May 15 at this point. At that point, the governor can decide to extend that order again, or to start to pull back and allow things to reopen. He’s continued to talk about a regional reopening plan that, of course, we as a county are working on with our local economic development department, our chambers, other officials – certainly something that we’re playing a big role in."
She explained, “Today, the governor laid out the metrics that will be necessary for a region to reopen. … What you need to really take away from this, if you look at that list, is that Western New York … only meets three of the seven criteria as of today that would be required to be able to start that reopening. In fact, hospitalizations, as a region, have gone up for us. And if that continues, that does not bode well for our reopening plan.
“We know that things will be driven here, heavily, by Erie County. The numbers there are increasing.
“So, really, this is about not forgetting what we’ve done so far – not letting all of those things that we’ve worked so hard (to do) to keep our hospitals at a decent level; that they can maintain; and not undoing all of that work by immediately just pressing the start button and sending everyone back to normal. We have to continue to follow those rules.”
Cuomo said, "While we continue to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, we can begin to focus on reopening, but we have to be careful and use the information we've learned so we don't erase the strides we've already made. Reopening is not going to happen statewide all at once – New York has diverse regions and those regions have different circumstances, so rather than wait for the whole state to be ready to reopen, we are going to analyze the situation on a regional basis. We will measure whether a region can reopen based on four factors – the number of new infections, health care capacity, diagnostic testing and contact tracing – and we will continue to monitor these factors throughout the reopening process to prevent a second wave of the virus and protect the health and safety New Yorkers."
The governor confirmed 2,538 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 318,953.
Cuomo said more than 1 million New Yorkers have already been tested for COVID-19 to date.
He noted New York's National Guard has made nearly 300,000 testing kits to collect samples, 60,000 of which are being sent to labs and hospitals across New York state.
Niagara County Health Director Daniel Stapleton told Wydysh, “Our testing has increased significantly.” More than 700 people were tested over the weekend.
“I still feel we’re in the surge,” he added. “I don’t see any reason to declare that we’re at the plateau, or we’ve peaked. I still believe that we’re continuing to surge, based on the numbers that I’m getting.”
“NCCC, the drive-thru exercise has been going very well,” Stapleton said. “They can do up to 500 (tests) a day. … That’s a great source of testing for the county. People should make sure they go online and call the phone number to make sure people are getting tested.”
He called the setup “a little city (whose) sole purpose is to make sure that the residents of Niagara County get tested.”
Stapleton said it only takes a few minutes to be tested, but preregistration is required.
Though testing is intended to be for people working in an essential industry, “We ask you to remember not to exclude yourself if you are uncertain about whether or not you will qualify. Give the state hotline number a call and find out,” Wydysh said. “We are finding that they are testing most people who call and want to be tested; they are taking care of that.”
She noted, “That is a very, very important tool for us right now. We have to have good data to make good decisions. And we want to know that our essential workers are out working safely, and that we’re not continuing to do any more community spread.”
The governor also announced the special enrollment period through the NY State of Health/Health Plan Marketplace will remain open through June 15.