SYRACUSE, N.Y. — For the first time since March, new COVID-19 daily hospitalizations in New York State are below 1,000.
As the numbers continue to drop, the state is beginning to move forward to reopen the economy beginning May 15.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, speaking from Syracuse, says to reopen, we must ensure we aren't infecting more people or overwhelming the hospital system.
He outlined the data points to unpause the state.
- CDC Guidelines: Based on CDC recommendations, once a region experiences a 14-day decline in the hospitalization rate they may begin a phased re-opening.
- Industries: Businesses in each region will re-open in phases. Phase one will include opening construction and manufacturing functions with low risk. Phase two will open certain industries based on priority and risk level. 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.
- Business Precautions: Each business and industry must have a plan to protect employees and consumers, make the physical work space safer and implement processes that lower risk of infection in the business.
- Building Health Care Capacity: To maintain the phased re-opening plan, each region must have at least 30 percent of hospital beds and ICU beds available after elective surgeries resume.
- Testing Regimen: Regions must implement a testing regimen that prioritizes symptomatic persons and individuals who came into contact with a known COVID-positive person, and conducts frequent tests of frontline and essential workers. Regions must maintain an appropriate number of testing sites to accommodate its population and must fully advertise where and how people can get tested. The region must also use the collected data to track and trace the spread of the virus.
- Tracing System: There must be at least 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 people. The region must also monitor the regional infection rate throughout the re-opening plan.
- Isolation Facilities: Regions must present plans to have rooms available for people who test positive for COVID-19 and who cannot self-isolate.
- Regional Coordination: Regions must coordinate the re-opening of schools, transportation systems, testing and tracing with other surrounding regions.
- Re-imagining Tele-Medicine
- Re-imagining Tele-Education
- Regional Control Rooms: Each region must appoint an oversight institution as its control room to monitor regional indicators during the phased re-opening, including hospital capacity, rate of infection, PPE burn rate and businesses.
- Protect and Respect Essential Workers: Regions must continue to ensure protections are in place for essential workers.
The state creating a NY Forward Reopening Advisory Board, which will consist of 100 business, community and civic leaders to help guide the reopening strategy.
The state will start reopening with manufacturing and construction jobs in central New York, where they have less positive cases.
Businesses would have to adjust workplace hours and employees would have to still practice social distance. Non-essential travel is still restricted. Masks will be required if employees are in frequent contact with others. Businesses will have to have strict cleaning and sanitation standards. There will also have to be continuous health screenings to enter the workplace.
The regions will also have to build healthcare capacity. At least 30% of the hospital beds must be available after elective surgeries resume.
Regions will also have to implement a testing regimen, prioritizing symptomatic people, then people who have come into contact with a symptomatic person and frequent testing of frontline/essential employees.
They also have to have testing sites set up and be able to advertize to residents where they can go to get tests.
Regions will also have to have a plan to have isolation rooms available for people who test positive for COVID-19 and who cannot self-isolate.
Each region must appoint an oversight institution as its 'control room' to monitor regional metrics, including:
- Hospital Capacity
- Rate of Infection
- PPE burn rate
The governor's office also addressed the ongoing issues with unemployment insurance claims.
The governor's secretary, Melissa DeRosa says they have 3,000 workers currently addressing 400,000 claims. The majority of the claims are workers who would not normally qualify for unemployment insurance, but do under this crisis.
Gov. Cuomo says he will make a decision later this week on whether schools will reopen or if he will extend the closure past May 15.