The coronavirus pandemic appears to have peaked in New York State, therefore, the administration of Governor Andrew Cuomo has developed a gradual reopening plan based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and under the supervision of experts in different areas.
Governor Cuomo detailed the reopening plan on Tuesday, which will begin in mid-May in the north of the state with what he described as “low-risk businesses.”
The president pointed out that, to reactivate the economy, it is essential that COVID-19 tests and the availability of hospital beds must be at adequate levels. New York so far has 22,000 deaths and nearly 300,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
THE TWELVE ESSENTIAL POINTS OF THE REOPENING PLAN
- CDC Guidelines: per the agency’s recommendations, once a region experiences a 14-day decrease in hospitalization rate, it can begin the gradual reopening.
- Industries: Businesses in each region will reopen in phases. The first phase will include the opening of the construction industry and factories that represent a low risk of contagion. During phase two they will open certain industries based on priority and level of risk. Companies deemed “most essential” with inherently low risk of infection in the workplace and for customers will be prioritized, followed by other companies deemed “less essential” or those that pose a higher risk of spreading the virus. Regions should not open amusement parks or businesses that accumulate large numbers of visitors outside of the local area.
- Protocols in each business: Each establishment and industry should have a plan to protect employees and consumers, in addition to ensuring that the physical workspace is safer and implementing processes that reduce the risk of infection within the business.
- Development of health care capacity: To maintain the phased reopening plan, each region must have at least 30 percent of hospital beds and beds in the Intensive Care Unit available after elective surgeries are resumed.
- Testing regime: Regions should implement a testing regimen that prioritizes symptomatic individuals and individuals who came into contact with a patient who tested positive for COVID, in addition to frequent testing of frontline and essential workers. Regions must maintain an appropriate number of test sites to accommodate their population and must where and how people can be tested. The region should also use the collected data to track the virus’ points of spread.
- Tracking system: there must be at least 30 contact trackers for every 100,000 people. The region should also monitor the regional infection rate throughout the reopening plan.
- Isolation facilities: Regions must submit plans for available rooms for COVID-19 positive patients unable to self-isolate
- Regional coordination: regions should coordinate the reopening of schools, transportation systems, testing and tracking with other surrounding regions.
- Telemedicine: Cuomo’s plan calls for the use of telemedicine as the epidemic is brought under control.
- Teleeducation: The state education system would continue with distance learning.
- Regional control rooms: Each region should designate a supervisory institution, such as its control room, to monitor regional indicators during the gradual reopening, including hospital capacity, infection rate, and business activity.
- Protect and respect essential workers: regions must continue to ensure protections for essential workers.
REOPENING OF THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
The construction industry and certain factories will be able to reopen from May 15 only in the northern regions of the state.
“Those are two industries that employ a lot of people,” Cuomo said. “We believe that you can take appropriate precautions (…) these companies can adopt the new normal depending on the number of employees and their own health protocols.”
Cuomo indicated Tuesday during the daily press conference that companies seeking to reopen will be evaluated against essential services standards and how significant the risk of contagion is.
Manufacturing and construction are the source of jobs for at least 46,000 New Yorkers in the central part of the state alone.
Will all schools in New York be closed? Governor Cuomo hinted that he will make a decision this week.
The president said that the reopening or not of the schools will be decided in accordance with the governments of New Jersey and Connecticut.
Cuomo ponders the possibility of reopening schools in certain regions before the end of the school year; however, the reopening of the summer programs remains to be defined.
President Donald Trump on Monday urged the nation’s governors to “seriously consider” reopening schools in an effort to restart the economy, though many states have already recommended not resuming the school year.
PARKS AND BEACHES
Parks, beaches and other attractions will only reopen when deemed safe, Cuomo said.
“Conglomeration is a big problem,” said the president.
As in the educational field, the reopening of the beaches and parks will be coordinated in collaboration with neighboring states.
REGIONAL CONTROL ROOM
The “regional control room” would be made up of state health officials charged with overseeing the reopening.
This group should ensure that hospital capacity should not be less than 70 percent.
Any red flag warned by regional monitors would activate a “danger button,” leading to a delay in reopening, Cuomo explained.
“Some northern regions of the state have a problem comparable to parts of the Midwest,” Cuomo said. “Especially New York City.”
The president said that testing, tracking and isolation will be key to the reopening.