By Keith McShea
Published 12:40 p.m. May 4, 2020|
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Monday a list of 10 criteria that regions need to meet to reopen on May 15.
Based on the list and a chart that the governor presented during his daily coronavirus briefing, Western New York isn't ready yet.
May 15 is the expiration date for the state's current "NY pause" order, which limits nonessential businesses from opening, directs nonessential employees to work from home and advises social distancing measures.
Reopening standards include metrics measuring different categories, including hospitalization rates and death rates as well as a region's capacity for health care, testing and tracing.
Businesses, which would have to meet certain safety precautions, would have their reopenings phased in depending on their category. A region will also have to show that will be able to monitor all of these standards.
"This is what local leaders, this is what a community has to deal with, to reopen safely and intelligently, in my opinion," Cuomo said Monday from the Wegmans Conference Center in Rochester. "This can’t just be, we want to get out of the house, we’re going. No. Let's be smart, let’s be intelligent, let's learn from the past, let's do it based on facts."
Cuomo displayed a chart that showed 10 different regions in the state and how those regions currently stand in seven different metrics. On that chart, Western New York was green in only three of seven categories.
Western New York did not meet the following criteria in:
• 14-day decline in hospitalizations OR under 15 new hospitalizations (on a three-day average).
• New hospitalizations must be under 2 per 100,000 residents on a three-day rolling average. Western New York's number was listed as 2.2.
• On testing, regions need a 30 tests per 1,000 residents monthly (based on a seven-day average of new tests per day).
• Regions need at least 30 contract tracers per 100,000 residents. The chart showed Western New York's total of 414 was not sufficient.
Western New York did meet these guidelines:
• 14-day decline in hospital deaths OR fewer than five deaths (on a three-day rolling average).
• Share of total hospital beds available must be at least at 30%. Western New York was shown to have 46% available.
• Share of total intensive care unit beds must be at least 30%. Western New York was shown to have 40% available.
Some regions of New York are closer to reopening than others.
Currently, no region meets all the requirements necessary to reopen safely and securely.
The state defines the Western New York region as five counties: Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany.
Orleans, Genesee and Wyoming counties are considered part of the Finger Lakes region, which includes nine counties, including Rochester’s Monroe County.
Cuomo displayed a map showing which of the 10 regions were designated as high-risk and low-risk.
The high-risk regions included Western New York, the Albany area's Capital District, the Mid-Hudson region that includes Westchester and Rockland counties, as well as New York City and Long Island.
The other regions were listed as low-risk: Finger Lakes, Central New York, Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley and the North Country.
The governor said the regional reopenings are rooted in different circumstances throughout the state.
"This state has different regions which are in much different situations than other regions," he said. "Rather than wait for the whole state to be ready, reopen on a regional basis.
"If upstate is waiting for downstate to be ready, they’re going to be waiting a long time."
Cuomo, who has announced various reopening guidelines separately in briefings over the last several weeks, presented the list of 10 and said that it was up to each region to meet them.
"On May 15, regions can start to reopen and do their own analysis, but these are the facts that they have to have in place to do it," Cuomo said. "Start now, don't wait til May 15. Don't call me up on May 15.
"Because I’m going to ask you the questions I just presented. Is your health system ready? Do you have testing in place? Do you have tracing in place? Have you talked to businesses about how they are going to reopen? So, we have a couple of weeks."
Cuomo's list of 10 criteria:
1. A region must have at least 14 days of decline in total hospitalizations and deaths (on a three-day rolling average).
2. In regions with few Covid-19 cases, they cannot exceed 15 new total cases or five new deaths (on a three-day rolling average).
3. A region must have fewer than two new Covid-19 patients admitted per 100,000 residents per day.
4. A region must have at least 30 percent of its total hospital beds and at least 30 percent of its intensive care beds available.
5. Every hospital in a region must have at least 90 days of personal protective equipment (PPE) stockpiled.
6. A region must be able to administer 30 tests for every 1,000 residents per month.
7. A region must have a baseline of 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents, plus additional tracers based on the projected number of cases in the region.
"Once that is all done," Cuomo said, "then you can talk about opening businesses."
8. Businesses would be reopened in four phases, based on certain categories.
"You can open businesses first that are most essential and post the lowest risk," the governor said.
Phase One: Construction; manufacturing and wholesale supply chain; select retail with curbside pickup.
Phase Two: Professional services; finance and insurance; retail; administrative support; real estate/rental leasing.
Phase Three: Restaurant/food services; hotels/accommodations.
Phase Four: Arts/entertainment/recreation; education
9. Businesses would have to enact certain safety precautions to be in compliance with new standards, Cuomo said.
"We need businesses to reimagine how they are going to do business," he said, "and get ready to protect their workforce, to change their physical environment to the extent they need to, and to change their processes to make sure people can socially distance, so people remain in a safe environment.
"And that's business by business. Government can say these are the standards, but a business is going to have to figure out how to do that."
10. A regional "control room" must be established.
"Each region has to ... monitor this system literally on a daily basis," Cuomo said. "They’re getting all that data, and then day by day they are making a decision on how to proceed with reopening, based on the data, based on the facts. That will be a little different for every region in the state."
The state's overall coronavirus numbers continued to decline. The three-day rolling average for new Covid-19 hospitalizations per day was down for the third straight day and was in the 700s; Cuomo noted that this number had recently plateaued around 900 for a few days.
"This number is at 700 and that's a good number," the governor said.
The Sunday total of coronavirus deaths was 226, down markedly from previous days. Saturday's total was 280 and Friday's was 299. Cuomo said 33 of Sunday's deaths were nursing home residents.