Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered more details Tuesday on what needs to be in place before portions of New York state can begin to reopen.
But the governor said partial reopening for now likely won’t include major attractions like the State Fair.
Cuomo held the briefing at Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, one of the regions that has a lower rate of coronavirus infections and may be among the first to reopen after the current restrictions begin to ease after May 15.
The governor said several steps need to be taken first, including adhering to the Centers for Disease Control guidelines, which say a region should have 14 consecutive days where the rate of infection is declining before anything can restart.
“It’s a very fact-based, data-driven reopening plan,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo said reopening is also contingent on having enough tests to diagnose those who are ill, and hospitals in the region will need at least a 30% additional bed capacity after resuming elective surgeries, in case the reopening fuels the infection rate.
There also needs to be enough contact tracers. The state is working with former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg to hire and train hundreds of workers. Cuomo said 30 contact tracers will be needed for every 100,000 people.
The tracers can identify those who have been exposed to people who came down with the virus. The governor then wants to set up safe spaces for those who need to quarantine for two weeks until they can rejoin their family.
Cuomo said the partial reopening will be limited at first to manufacturing and construction firms that can demonstrate they can safely open with masks and other personal protective equipment and social distancing.
He said for now it will not include any businesses that might attract people from outside the area, and that means possibly no summertime events, including the annual State Fair, which is held in Syracuse. He said any large events would open only when the rest of New York and neighboring states decide it’s safe to hold those big gatherings.
“Look, if you open the State Fair this year, you’d have the highest attendance we ever had, that I can guarantee you,” Cuomo said. “But it wouldn’t be good. Everything is about reducing density.”
The governor said other attractions like beaches and amusement parks also would likely have to remain closed.
The other regions that could be first to reopen include the North Country and the Mohawk Valley region. Cuomo said western New York, the Capital Region, and downstate New York are not on the list for partial reopening for now because the rate of infection is too high.