Governor Andrew Cuomo Discusses Phases of Reopening New York

Governor Andrew Cuomo shared his office's proposed strategy to reopen New York in phases during Sunday's COVID-19 press briefing.

As effects of the state's outbreak become less severe, he explained that New York will collaborate with local officials as well as neighboring governors to "reopen in phases, based on regional analysis."

The first phase will allow construction and manufacturing companies to resume operations, though determining which entities can reopen and when depends on their location—in addition to their ability to uphold safety measures to protect against the coronavirus' further spread. Cuomo told reporters on Sunday that some of these companies may be able to reopen after May 15, when New York's stay-at-home order is expected to terminate. However, reopening will occur on a "business by business" basis, and each company will be evaluated and deemed low-risk before they are permitted to do so.

New York's second phase of reopening will require individual businesses' input.

"This is not a one-sided equation here," Cuomo said, asking companies to develop reopening plans that incorporate virus mitigation measures. "Businesses, you develop a plan on how you would reopen given everything that we now know," he continued, noting that phase two will not commence until at least two weeks after phase one.

As we look forward there will be multiple levels of decisions.

Government will set the criteria for a phased reopening.

Businesses will reimagine their workplaces & protocols.

Individuals will make decisions on their own health.

We will build back better.

— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) April 26, 2020

The governor also outlined a "caveat" to New York's economic reopening, saying that business or attractions meant to draw large numbers of visitors must remain closed for now. Per the White House's national reopening plan, a region cannot initiate phase one until it reports a 14-day decline in new coronavirus cases.

Sunday's press briefing came as New York recorded its 13th consecutive day of declining hospitalization counts. Cuomo said there are currently 12,819 people hospitalized across New York state for health complications caused by the new coronavirus, with 1,000 new patient admissions and 367 deaths over the last 24 hours. Both numbers are lower than those reported on Saturday.

Admissions reached 18,825—the highest total reported on any single day throughout the pandemic—two weeks ago and has been steadily declining since then. However, despite New York's increasing hospital discharges, the state has continued to confirm significant numbers of new patient admissions. During Saturday's press briefing, Cuomo said an average of 1,100 new hospitalizations were reported over the previous 72 hours.

"Only in this crazy reality would 1,100 new cases be relatively good news," the governor commented. "But 1,000 new cases – again, we like to see that down into the two-, three-, four-hundred new cases per day."

We have been through hell and it's not over yet.

Yesterday we had ~1,100 people enter the hospital with COVID, which is more than we’d like but less than we have seen in 21 days.

Our efforts are working. But we must keep it up if we want the curve to decline faster.

— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) April 25, 2020

At the epicenter of the United States' coronavirus outbreak, New York has confirmed roughly 30 percent of the country's total cases and 40 percent of its deaths. According to the most recent statistics included in Johns Hopkins University's resource center, more than 940,000 people have tested positive for the respiratory disease nationwide as of Sunday morning, and 54,000 have died as a result. Similar to New York's position compared to other states, the U.S. has diagnosed approximately 30 percent of global coronavirus cases and 25 percent of total deaths.

In the latest addition to his administration's ongoing containment efforts, Cuomo issued an executive order on Saturday permitting thousands of New York pharmacists to conduct diagnostic tests for COVID-19. He also announced expanded criteria for testing, which was previously limited to individuals showing symptoms that indicated possible infection from the coronavirus.

We are expanding our diagnostic testing criteria so that first responders, frontline healthcare workers and essential workers can all be tested.

They are our heroes who are risking their health to get us through this crisis.

They deserve priority for testing.

— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) April 25, 2020

The new criteria offered tests to front-line healthcare workers effective immediately, and Cuomo said the assessments would be extended to transit workers and law enforcement beginning next week. He added that more people will become eligible as the state's test supply increases.

The expansion followed New York's development of a diagnostic antibody test that determines whether an individual had ever contracted the new coronavirus, regardless of symptoms. A controlled study of 3,000 randomly selected state residents was conducted last week and ultimately confirmed the presence of COVID-19 antibodies in close to 14 percent of those sampled.

On Saturday, Cuomo said the state was conducting about 20,000 tests per day and hoped to double its capacity with federal assistance. The governor has emphasized that New York cannot proceed to reopen its economy without broadened testing capabilities and recently met with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House to make a case for additional resources. Alongside Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and the National Governors Association, Cuomo also helped introduce a bipartisan bill earlier this month requesting $500 billion in federal aid to states.

Also on Sunday, in regards to the New York City economy amid the pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the creation of a Fair Recovery Task Force that would "put forward a recovery road map that will inform the City's recovery efforts." He additionally mentioned the establishment of sector advisory councils as part of that recovery, which he said in a tweet, "made up of leaders from every aspect of life in New York City to help us plan not just when we restart but HOW we restart." That will include small and large businesses; arts, culture and tourism; and public health and health care, among others.

"We restart when we have evidence. Anybody, any state, any city that doesn't pay attention to those factual health care indicators that evidence is endangering themselves and their people and the whole idea of having a restart to have an economy again, recover, it could all backfire because the disease reasserts," said the mayor at his briefing.

Every time New York City has faced a crisis, it’s come back stronger. That's who we are. We will work together and build something better and fairer.

We have the power to do more than just return to the status quo.

— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) April 26, 2020

The mayor also announced a task force on racial inclusion and equity, formed as a result of the "fatal consequences of racial disparities in America" that COVID-19 revealed. The task force will be headed by first lady Chirlane McCray and Deputy Mayor J. Phillip Thompson.

Across New York, social distancing measures remain in place through at least May 15. Both Cuomo and de Blasio have continuously underscored that it is critical for state residents to conform with the guidelines.

Updated 8:28 PM ET

Governor Andrew Cuomo
Governor Andrew Cuomo discusses the new coronavirus outbreak in New York during daily press briefings. In response to a steady decline in statewide hospitalizations due to the coronavirus, Cuomo provided more information about an upcoming economic reopening on Sunday. Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty