BUFFALO, N.Y. — Mayor Bill de Blasio sparked a conversation statewide when he announced his plan to fully reopen New York City on July 1.
"We are ready for stores to open, businesses to open, offices, theaters, full strength, because look, what we're seeing is people have gotten vaccinated in extraordinary numbers; 6.3 million vaccinations in New York City to date," de Blasio said.
He added, "We know the vaccination effort is going to grow and grow. We've got to keep working hard at that. But what's amazing is every single day we are beating back COVID more and more. Hospitalizations are down. We're just seeing a better situation every day. We are ready to take that pathway to a full reopening."
During a COVID-19 briefing in Buffalo, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was asked if he would sign off on this, not just in New York City, but across the state.
"There is no person who will safely reopen faster than myself. I'm not gonna predict the future, but if you said to me, 'July 1,' I hope to get there before July 1," Cuomo said.
We asked Dr. Thomas Russo, the chief of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo, for his input.
"I think July is a realistic goal in terms of when we could be back to normal. The weather is going to be warm. We're going to be doing mostly outdoor activities. We know that getting infected outdoors is much less likely than indoors, and hopefully we'll have a critical number of people vaccinated at that point," Dr. Russo said.
Dr. John Sellick, a hospital epidemiologist with Kaleida Health, didn't offer specifics in response to the July 1 plan, but he did stress that vaccines are the way out of this.
"The more people we get vaccinated, the more we're going to be able to do, whether it's in New York City or in Buffalo, so we have to keep our eye on that ball and continue to get our vaccination numbers going up," Dr. Sellick said.
Both doctors agreed following public health measures, like wearing a mask, are still critical.
"I think right now there's every reason to be optimistic but we're not there yet. We let our guard down once and went backward. Let's not let that happen again," Dr. Russo said.
He added, "If we continue on this path, I think things look very optimistic for the coming weeks and months and July 4 hopefully will truly be a reason to celebrate this year."