NEW YORK (CBSeNewYork) — Long Island could see its economy start reopening as early as next week from the 10-week shutdown if it can get tracing numbers up and deaths down soon.
“Both regions could reopen this week. In anticipation of that, we’re going to allow construction staging — Phase 1 construction begins,” the governor said. “Before you can begin construction, you have to have stage, the construction and materials have to be on-site, and safety precautions have to be on site. So we’re going to allow that construction staging.”
Contact tracers identify infected individuals based on test results, obtained by city and state health departments. Then they contact people — initially by phone, in most cases — who have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Cuomo has a set list of criteria each region of the state must meet before being allowed to open non-essential businesses that were ordered closed back on March 20 when the cases and deaths from COVID-19 began to soar.
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The first businesses to be allowed to reopen will be those reviewed as most essential, with the lowest risk. Phase 1 includes construction, manufacturing and wholesale supply chain businesses, along with select retail stores with curbside pickup.
TRACKING REOPENING: View New York State Regional Monitoring Dashboard
Phase 2 includes professional services, finance and insurance, retail administrative support, real estate/rental leasing. Phase 3 covers restaurants, food services, hotels and other accommodations. Phase 4 is for arts, entertainment venues, recreation facilities and education.
WEB EXTRA: See Cuomo’s Presentation On Reopening Criteria (.pdf)
Restaurant owners and downtowns on Long Island are eager to find any way to resume more business, and many are already planning their return know though life after lockdown may be weeks or months away.
Cuomo also noted federal assistance to local small businesses has been cut short as funds to help them ran out.
“Small businesses are taking a real beating in this situation,” said Cuomo on Friday. “They are 90% of New York’s businesses, and they’re facing the toughest challenges. The economic projections vis-à-vis small business are actually frightening.”
The governor said more than 100,000 small businesses have shut permanently since the pandemic hit.
“Many small businesses just don’t have the staying power to continue to pay all the fixed costs when they have no income whatsoever,” he said. “Minority-owned businesses face a far greater risk, and have received less in federal relief.”
Cuomo announced his administration would be starting its own Small Business Relief Program working with private banks, making more than $100 million available through loans to small businesses, especially those that qualify as Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises.
New York City Inching Closer To Reopening
The road to reopening New York City is now just weeks away. Mayor Bill de Blasio is hopeful it will happen by mid-June.
He announced Friday that the city is changing the metrics to get there, CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reported.
It’s all based around new hospital admissions, Intensive Care Unit beds and COVID-19 positive cases.
Instead of waiting for the numbers to go down each day, the mayor is looking at the numbers a bit differently, saying what matters is staying at a low level, which has been happening.
“If we keep to what we’ve been doing up to now, it seems very clear it’s going to be a date in the first 14-15 days of June,” de Blasio said.
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To the city on pause, staying home and social distancing, the mayor said, “You’ve achieved so much that we’re actually able to think about our indicators in a new way today.”
Those three health indicators are:
- The number of new hospital admissions
- ICU capacity
- Percentage of COVID positive tests
But instead of basing reopening around those numbers going down every day, it will now be reliant on thresholds which the city must stay below for a 10-to-14-day window.
“The day-to-day changes, the small up and downs, matter less. What matters more now is staying at a low level,” de Blasio said.
The threshold for hospital admissions is under 200 patients per day.
“We’ve been consistently between 50 and 80 people admitted per day,” de Blasio said.
Total ICU patients must be 375 or less, a threshold the city has not reached.
Finally, the percentage of positive tests must be under 15%, which the mayor said the city has accomplished the last 10 days.
“It’s a change for a reason. It’s because actually things got better and kept better for a meaningful period of time,” de Blasio said.
Looking at the state metrics, the city has met just four of the seven requirements. What if there’s a discrepancy between the city thresholds and the state guidelines?
“It’s not up to the local officials. It’s a statewide decision across the board,” Cuomo said.
“We communicate all day long with New York City. They understand the legal issues here. They understand that the state is going to be the one to give the green light,” Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa said.
The first phase would allow manufacturing, construction, and retail curbside pickup and drop off in the city.