When Will New York City Reopen? What We Know So Far

New York City is the only region in the state to not get the green light to reopen, and Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state will be taking a more targeted approach to the coronavirus outbreak.

To reopen, regions in New York must meet seven metrics, including having 30 percent of hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) beds available. In the New York City region, where officials have identified more than half of the state's total cases, those two requirements haven't been met, thereby preventing the region from entering Phase 1 of Cuomo's reopening plan.

New York City was the epicenter of the outbreak and one of the hardest-hit areas in the world. Cuomo said officials will now focus on reopening the city region by using data to target ZIP codes that are experiencing the highest rates of community transmission.

Extensive testing gives New York officials the ability to identify ZIP codes that are generating new cases, according to Cuomo, and then send resources to those areas. That data have shown that those ZIP codes are predominantly minority communities. Compared with the 19 percent infection rate among the city's general population, some minority communities have an infection rate of 40 percent.

"When we look at those new COVID cases coming into hospitals, they're coming from these ZIP codes, and we can identify it so we want to attack the virus at the source," Cuomo said Tuesday.

By slowing the infection rate in those communities, the governor explained, it will "really bring the numbers down in New York City."

new york city reopening timeline cuomo
The Wall Street sign at the New York Stock Exchange. New York City is the only region in the state to not get the green light to reopen yet. Noam Gala/Getty

Cuomo didn't provide a timeline for when the New York City region would reopen, but he reiterated the need to do it safely and adhere to the guidelines already in place. The region is on its way to reopening and is just shy of meeting the hospital and ICU bed threshold. As of Sunday, it had 29 percent of hospital and ICU beds available, according to New York state data.

Along with meeting hospital resource requirements, the region also has to have 30 contact tracers per 100,000 residents. It's expected to be able to meet that requirement. At the end of April, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city was hiring 1,000 contact tracers.

The roles, public health adviser I and public health adviser II, would earn $57,000 and $62,000, respectively, and de Blasio called for talented individuals to "come forward right away." On Tuesday, de Blasio said the city had hired 1,700 contact tracers who will be trained and in action by June 1.

The New York City region has already met requirements for declines in hospitalizations and deaths and has ramped up testing to satisfy the criteria. Once all seven metrics are met, retail businesses in the region will be able to reopen for curbside and in-store pickup. Retail can't open for in-person business until Phase 2, and restaurants cannot reopen for in-person dining until Phase 3.

Cuomo attributed the influx in cases in New York City to European travelers that entered the city before the travel ban was put in place, the density of the area and the widespread use of public transportation. While there's nothing that can be done to change the city's characteristics, the governor said, individuals have control of the future of the outbreak.

"This whole trajectory is decided by people," Cuomo said. "You tell me what people do today, I'll tell you what the infection rate is tomorrow."