Coronavirus: Cuomo approves central New York to enter phase 4

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June 24

Central New York will enter the fourth phase of the reopening process on Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced during a press briefing Wednesday. 

Phase four will allow individuals to hold nonessential gatherings of up to 25 people and will permit the reopening of some arts and entertainment venues. Businesses and events that would attract large crowds, such as amusement parks, concerts, movie theaters and fairs, will remain closed.

Several regions in upstate New York will join central New York in entering phase four. 

Effective Thursday, New York state will also require travelers from several states where COVID-19 cases are increasing to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, Cuomo said. States included in the measure are Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington.

New York state will work with New Jersey and Connecticut to enforce the travel restrictions, Cuomo said. 

June 11:

Cuomo has given central New York the go-ahead to enter phase 3 of the reopening process starting Friday.

Central New York will join the Mohawk Valley, Southern Tier, Finger Lakes the North Country regions in entering phase 3. Several businesses––including spas, nail and tanning salons, cosmetologists and massage therapists––can reopen during phase 3. 

The next phase will also permit restaurants to resume indoor service at 50% capacity, with staff wearing masks and other social distancing measures in place.

June 7:

New York state recorded 781 new positive cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the lowest single day increase since March 16.

New York will add 15 new testing sites specifically to cater to protesters, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a press conference. The state is concerned that recent mass gatherings in response to the killing of George Floyd will lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases. 

The state will conduct 35,000 tests in New York City alone to mitigate the spread of the virus, Cuomo said. He encouraged any individual who has attended a protest to receive a COVID-19 test.

June 3:

New York state has experienced its lowest rate of new hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 since the outbreak began in March, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a press briefing Wednesday. 

“(COVID-19) was the beast that we never thought we could beat. But so far we’ve beaten it,” he said. “We have to stay smart to make sure we control the beast.” 

Cuomo encouraged New Yorkers who have been protesting police brutality and the murder of George Floyd to take precautions against the virus. COVID-19 is still a threat, he said.

May 29

Five New York regions, including central New York, can now enter phase 2 of reopening, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced at a press conference Friday. 

Offices, stores and hair stylists in the central New York, North Country, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley regions can enter phase two immediately, Cuomo said. The announcement comes after Cuomo said Thursday that the state may need additional health guidance to further reopen, causing confusion on whether the governor would authorize Onondaga County’s shift to phase two. 

The state released guidelines for the next stage of reopening Thursday night. Owners of reopening businesses can sign an online form agreeing to abide by the guidelines. 

Cuomo said he expects New York City to begin reopening on June 8. The city is the only part of the state that hasn’t met the seven benchmarks necessary for entering phase 1 of New York state’s reopening plan.

May 26

New York state plans to accelerate construction on large infrastructure projects in New York City to boost employment following the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a press briefing. 

Planned projects include rebuilding New York City’s Penn Station and renovating Laguardia Airport, Cuomo said. The projects would create thousands of jobs in the state, he said. 

“If there’s ever a time to take on this overdue need of major infrastructure construction, now is the time,” he said. “There’s no better time to build than right now.”

May 25

New York state will provide death benefits to the families of health care workers who died from COVID-19, Cuomo announced at a press conference. 

State workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic — including transit workers, emergency responders and health care providers — will receive the benefits. The federal government should use federal funds to provide hazard pay to all health care workers who served during the pandemic, the governor said. 

“It’s a way of saying thank you,” Cuomo said. “And it’s a way of showing Americans that when there is a next time, and there is a next time, that we truly appreciate those people who show up and do their duty.”

May 24

New York professional sports teams can now begin spring training, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press briefing. Teams are encouraged to begin training as soon as possible while following social distancing guidelines, he said. 

The Long Island region is on track to reopen nonessential businesses starting Wednesday, Cuomo said. The governor also announced that campgrounds and recreational vehicle parks statewide can reopen Monday and veterinary practices can reopen Tuesday.

“If we remain smart, we can increase economic activity without necessarily increasing the viral spread,” Cuomo said.

May 23

New York state confirmed 84 deaths from COVID-19 on Saturday, Cuomo said at a media briefing. The daily death toll dipped below 100 people for the first time since late March.

The governor also deemed the state’s Mid-Hudson Region, south of Albany, to be on track for reopening nonessential businesses starting Tuesday.

Construction and manufacturing businesses can resume in phase one of the region’s reopening, and retail stores can provide curbside or indoor pickup, Cuomo said. He encouraged residents to continue adhering to social distancing guidelines as the region reopens. 

“I urge New Yorkers to continue to take precautions and do your part by wearing a mask in public, washing your hands often and avoiding large gatherings,” Cuomo said. 

May 22

New York state will allocate over $100 million to provide COVID-19 relief loans to small businesses, Cuomo said at a media briefing. 

The New York Forward Loan Fund will prioritize marginalized communities, women and businesses with 20 employees or fewer and have less than $3 million in growth revenues, Cuomo said at the briefing. 

Small business owners of marginalized identities have received less in federal COVID-19 assistance loans, Cuomo said. Economists have projected more than 100,000 small businesses have shut down permanently since the pandemic escalated in March, he said. 

Businesses can apply for these loans on the New York governor’s website.

May 21:

New York state schools will not hold in-person summer classes this year, the governor said at a media briefing. Schools can continue summer classes virtually.

Schools will be required to submit a fall reopening plan to the state by July, Cuomo said. He said it was too early to determine whether in-person education would resume in New York state this fall. 

Students will be able to receive meals from schools over the summer, Cuomo said. 

May 20:

New York state will allow religious gatherings of up to 10 people beginning tomorrow, Cuomo said at a media briefing. 

Individuals who attend religious gatherings must wear a mask and practice social distancing, Cuomo said. Drive-in and parking lot religious services will also be permitted, he said. 

The state has partnered with churches and faith-based organizations in New York City to conduct COVID-19 antibody testing in low-income communities, Cuomo said. According to a large sample of test results, 27% of individuals in these communities tested positive for the virus’ antibodies, compared to 19.9% of the city’s total population, he said.

“The data shows not just a high positive, but the spread is continuing in those communities and that’s where the new cases are coming from,” Cuomo said. 

The state is developing strategies to aid low-income communities hardest hit by the virus, Cuomo said. An additional 28 testing sites will open across low-income areas in New York City, and the state will increase testing in 40 public housing complexes, he said. 

May 19

New York state will allow gatherings of up to 10 people for Memorial Day, Cuomo announced at a media briefing. 

The final decision to allow gatherings will fall to local governments, Cuomo said. He encouraged municipalities to hold vehicle parades to celebrate the holiday. 

Nonessential businesses in the Capital Region, near Albany, will begin reopening starting tomorrow. The area will join regions in western, central and upstate New York in the first phase of reopening. Nonessential businesses remain closed in the Mid-Hudson, New York City and Long Island regions.

Over the next two weeks, 16 hospitals across New York state will begin implementing a hospital visitation pilot program, Cuomo said. The program will include protocols to allow individuals in hospital isolation to safely engage with visitors.

“It’s terrible to have someone in the hospital and for that person to be isolated and not able to see their family and friends,” Cuomo said.

May 18

Judges and staff will return to courthouses in 30 upstate New York counties beginning this week, the governor said during a media briefing. 

New York state will also allow the western New York region to begin reopening nonessential businesses tomorrow, Cuomo said. Western New York will join the central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley and North Country regions, which entered the first phase of reopening May 15. 

The governor encouraged all professional sports teams in New York state to plan on resuming play without fans in attendance. The state has already opened horse racing tracks and the Watkins Glen auto racing track without crowds, restrictions Cuomo has said he wants to apply to Major League Baseball as well.

May 17

New York state is now conducting 40,000 COVID-19 tests per day, more tests per capita than any other state, Cuomo said. 

Any individual who plans to resume working as nonessential businesses in New York state begin reopening can now receive testing, Cuomo said. The governor lifted a ban on nonessential businesses in some regions on May 15.

“The more tests, the better for the state, the better for society, the better for your family,” Cuomo said.

Even though COVID-19 deaths are continuing to decline in New York state, the governor is wary of summer camps opening, he said. The discovery a new inflammatory condition related to COVID-19 in children has delayed the state’s plans to release safety guidelines for summer camps, he said.

Cuomo does not know if the virus will impact school openings in the fall, he said. 

“The good news about schools is that the fall is a lifetime away,” he said.

May 16

New York state will allow horse racing tracks and the Watkins Glen International racing track to open without fans on June 1, Cuomo said at a press conference. 

The announcement comes after Cuomo allowed some nonessential businesses in upstate New York to reopen after closing for about two months due to the coronavirus. Under Cuomo’s extended COVID-19 emergency order, nonessential businesses in high-risk regions will remain closed until June 6. 

Individual horse tracks and NASCAR will decide whether to schedule events, said Robert Mujica, Cuomo’s budget director. Watkins Glen was set to host a NASCAR race in August prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“You want to increase economic activity as much as you can without spiking the infection rate,” Cuomo said. 

Cuomo also hopes baseball will return without fans, though the choice to start the season won’t be his, he said. 

May 15

New York state will join three neighboring states in reopening beaches and lakeshores for Memorial Day weekend, the governor announced at a media briefing. 

The state will reopen beaches alongside Connecticut, New Jersey and Delaware, Cuomo said. Concession stands and picnic areas at beaches will remain closed and group activities such as volleyball and other contact sports will be prohibited. 

The governor closed beaches in New York state as part of his COVID-19 emergency order, which began lifting in some regions starting today. Regions that meet certain state criteria are now able to begin a phased reopening of nonessential businesses.

Cuomo said he expects the number of COVID-19 cases in New York state to increase as regions begin to reopen. The key is to control the increase, he said. 

Control centers in each region will continue to monitor the rate of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, Cuomo said. Regions may have to pause the reopening process if COVID-19 begins to spread rapidly. 

“We are right about where we were when we started this,” Cuomo said. “If you look at New York, our curve is down.” 

May 14

Central New York has met all seven state criteria to begin a phased reopening of nonessential businesses starting on Friday, Cuomo announced at a media briefing at Upstate University Medical Center.

Under Cuomo’s extended COVID-19 emergency order, regions can begin reopening after meeting certain criteria. Central New York, which initially fell short of the state’s testing requirement, is now able to reopen starting Friday, Cuomo said.

The state has also approved the Finger Lakes, North Country, Mohawk Valley and Souther Tier regions to begin reopening Friday. Local governments in reopened regions will continue to monitor COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, as well as enforce safety regulations for reopened businesses, Cuomo said. 

Hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19 have continued to decline in New York state, Cuomo said.

May 13:

The New York State Department of Health is investigating 102 cases of a rare inflammatory condition related to COVID-19 found in children, Cuomo said at a press conference.

The illness, similar to atypical Kawasaki disease or toxic shock syndrome, has already taken the lives of a 5-year-old boy, a 7-year-old girl and an 18-year-old girl in New York state, Cuomo said. The Health Department found that 61% of individuals with the illness tested positive for COVID-19 and 40% tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies.

Health officials have encouraged hospitals to prioritize testing for children who display any symptoms related to the illness, Cuomo said. 

“This is a parent’s worst nightmare,” he said. “We thought that children were not especially affected by the virus. To now find out that they might be and it might be several weeks later, this is truly disturbing.”

The condition is primarily found in children between the ages of 5 and 14, Cuomo said. Of all cases discovered in New York state, 71% ended with the patient in an intensive care unit, he said. 

The New York State Department of Health alerted all other states to the condition, and 14 have begun investigations into similar cases, Cuomo said.

May 12

Local governments in New York need to be ready to pause the reopening of nonessential businesses if COVID-19 infections or hospitalizations increase, the governor said at a media briefing.

Cuomo has extended an executive order closing nonessential businesses in New York to curb the spread of COVID-19 until June 6, with the exception of regions that have met certain requirements. Some regions of upstate New York have met the criteria to begin reopening starting May 15, while central New York has met six of the seven criteria. 

The COVID-19 death toll is continuing to decline in New York state, Cuomo said. The state reported 195 new COVID-19-related deaths in the past 24 hours, he said. 

“New York is on the decline,” Cuomo said. “The nation is still on the incline.” 

Cuomo said New York needs financial support from the federal government to support working families. Without additional support, the state will be forced to cut funding to schools, local governments and hospitals, he said. 

Cuomo has proposed the “Americans First” law in talks with New York state congressional representatives. The bill would refuse subsidies to companies that do not hire back employees laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We need $61 billion in federal support or we will end up aggravating the situation,” Cuomo said.

May 11

Central New York has met six out of the seven criteria necessary to begin reopening nonessential businesses on May 15, Cuomo said at a press briefing. 

Cuomo extended an executive order to close nonessential businesses in New York state until June 6 to curb the spread of COVID-19, with the exception of businesses that meet certain requirements. Regions that already meet the seven criteria to reopen include the Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley and the Southern Tier, Cuomo said. 

The regional reopening criteria includes having 30% of hospital beds and ICU beds available in case of a second COVID-19 outbreak and having 30 contact tracers per 100,000 residents, Cuomo said. 

Each region will have a regional control room that will monitor the reopening of businesses, as well as COVID-19 infection and hospitalization data, Cuomo said. 

Under Cuomo’s phased reopening plan, construction and manufacturing businesses will reopen first, followed by professional services and retail. Landscaping and gardening, outdoor recreational activities and drive-in movie theaters are among the services that will be allowed to reopen first, he said.

May 10

All nursing home staff in New York state must receive COVID-19 tests twice a week, the governor announced at a media briefing. 

Nursing homes that fail to test employees or follow other health procedures related to COVID-19 will lose their licenses, Cuomo said. Nursing homes must inform the New York State Department of Health if they do not have the means to care for COVID-19 patients, he said.

 “If you cannot meet those standards, you cannot accept the patient” said Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor, at the briefing.

The governor also provided an update on a potential treatment for COVID-19. The medication, Remdesivir, has been shown to help patients with the virus recover more quickly, he said. New York state is working with the federal government to administer the treatment to hospitalized individuals.

The total number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations and intubations in New York state has continued to decline. The number of new hospitalizations Sunday is similar to March 20, the first day of the state shutdown order, Cuomo said.

“We are right back where we started,” he said

May 9

Cuomo extended an executive order to close nonessential businesses in New York state until June 6. The order, originally set to expire May 15, aims to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Under Cuomo’s extended order, the state will allow regions that meet certain health and safety criteria to open nonessential businesses prior to June. The state will factor in each region’s number of COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations and testing capacity to determine which areas may reopen before June 6. 

Three young children have died in New York state due to a condition related to COVID-19 that causes inflammation of blood vessels, Cuomo said at a media briefing. At least 73 children have become sick with the condition as of Saturday, he said. 

“This is new,” Cuomo said. “So it is still very much a situation that is developing, but it is a serious situation.” 

The state will work with the New York Genome Center, Rockefeller University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine what is causing the condition, Cuomo said. Many of the children who have displayed the condition didn’t show respiratory symptoms associated with COVID-19, but they all tested positive for the virus or had COVID-19 antibodies, he said.

May 8

The governor is extending the deadline for survivors of sexual assault to file a claim under the Child Victims Act until January 2021. 

New York state passed the Child Victims Act last year, allowing people who experienced sexual assault as children to file a claim even after the statute of limitations has expired. The state’s decision to reduce court services in response to the COVID-19 outbreak has limited survivors’ ability to file a claim and argue their case, Cuomo said at a media briefing Friday. 

The original window to file a claim expires in August. The governor’s extending the deadline until Jan. 14. 

The total number of hospitalizations and intubations from COVID-19 in New York state is on the decline, Cuomo said. The number of new cases has been consistent for a few days, he said.  

“Finally our destiny, our future, is in our hands,” Cuomo said. “We are in control of the spread of the virus.”

The New York State Department of Health is currently investigating 73 cases of children suffering severe COVID-19 symptoms, Cuomo said. 

Although rare, the state is seeing children who contracted COVID-19 experience severe complications. A 5-year-old boy died Thursday from COVID-19-related symptoms, Cuomo said. 

“This would open up a whole different chapter,” Cuomo said. “We didn’t think children could suffer from it.” 

May 7

New York state will extend a temporary ban on residential and commercial evictions until August 20, Cuomo said at a press conference.

Cuomo also ordered the prohibition of late fees related to rent payments missed during the temporary ban. The decision is part of the state’s efforts to support residents struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

“The majority of people in this state live paycheck to paycheck,” Cuomo said. “The federal government issued this one-time payment of $600, unemployment benefits, but it’s not making up the gap for many, many families.”

The governor provided additional details on an initiative to support upstate farmers through purchasing surplus food products and donating the items to strained downstate food banks. The initiative will supply over 50 food banks with food from over 2,100 farms. More than 20,000 families will receive products through the initiative in the next week, he said.

The state’s total number of hospitalizations related to COVID-19 have decreased to about 8,600, Cuomo said. The number of new hospitalizations and total number of intubations have also decreased since yesterday, he said.

Protecting frontline healthcare workers during the pandemic remains a state priority, the governor said. 

The state has conducted antibody testing on 25 downstate healthcare facilities and over 27,000 employees, Cuomo said. The tests found that health care workers have contracted the virus at lower rates than the general population, he said.

May 6:

New York state has asked hospitals to research the origins of new COVID-19 cases, Cuomo said at a media briefing. Although the hospitalization rate is down, the state has confirmed 600 cases since yesterday, Cuomo said. 

About 66% of cases confirmed during the past three days have originated from people who were abiding by social distancing orders, Cuomo said. A large percentage of the patients are nonessential workers, people of color and older individuals, he said. 

“(We are looking at) where are those cases coming from and what can we learn from those people to further target and refine our strategy,” he said. 

JetBlue Airways is donating round-trip flights to 10,000 medical professionals in New York state in celebration of National Nurses Day, Cuomo said. The donations are to thank health care workers for their service during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

“When the pressure is on in our lives, you end up seeing the best and worst in people and heroes rise to the occasion,” Cuomo said. “And that’s what we saw here in the state of New York.”

May 5

A research center that reports COVID-19 models to the federal government has doubled its projections for deaths from the virus in the United States, Cuomo said at a press conference. 

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicted at the beginning of April that the number of deaths from in the U.S. would reach 60,415, Cuomo said. The IHME’s projection increased to 134,475 as of May 4 because states are beginning to relax social distancing measures, he said.  

The Federal Emergency Management Agency estimated the daily number of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. will rise from 25,000 to 200,000 by June, Cuomo said. FEMA’s estimate increased when the agency factored in states’ reopening plans, he said.

“There’s a cost of staying closed and there’s also a cost of reopening quickly, and that’s the hard truth we are dealing with,” Cuomo said. “The question comes back to ‘How much is a human life worth?’ I say a human life is priceless.” 

May 4:

The governor announced plans Monday to begin a phased reopening of New York state starting with regions with the lowest numbers of COVID-19 cases.

The governor has closed nonessential businesses until May 15 to curb the spread of COVID-19. After May 15, a region must have fewer than two new COVID-19 patients per 100,000 residents admitted to hospitals each day to begin reopening, Cuomo said at a press conference.

Regions also cannot exceed 15 new cases or five new deaths on a 3-day rolling average, he said.

“You’d rather have a controlled start so you don’t have to stop,” Cuomo said. 

The state is working with former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg to assemble a team of contact tracers to identify and test individuals who may have come in contact with the virus. Regions must have at least 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents to being reopening, Cuomo said. 

“Let’s be smart about what we do,” Cuomo said. “Look at the data, look at the science, follow the facts.”

May 3

New York state is launching a program in collaboration with six neighboring states to purchase medical supplies to combat COVID-19, Cuomo said at a media briefing.

The state will work with Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Delaware and Rhode Island to jointly buy ventilators, masks and other medical supplies, Cuomo said. Forming a coalition will increase the states’ market power and bring down prices, he said. 

Hospitalizations from COVID-19 in New York state have reached the lowest point since mid-March, Cuomo said. He’s mandating that all hospitals in the state have at least a 90-day supply of medical and personal protective equipment prepared in case of a second outbreak in the fall.

May 2

New York state conducted the largest COVID-19 antibody testing survey in the country this week, Cuomo said at a media briefing. 

State officials found COVID-19 antibodies in 12.3% of the 15,000 residents tested in the survey. That percent is a decrease from the previous round of testing, which found COVID-19 antibodies in 14.9% of the residents sampled. 

New York also distributed seven million cloth masks today to nursing homes and low-income communities across the state, including residents of New York City public housing, Cuomo said.

Cuomo announced Thursday that, starting May 6, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will clean the subway every morning between the hours of 1am and 5am. As a result, homeless people in New York City can’t sleep in subway cars, the governor said. 

Sleeping in subway cars puts individuals at a greater risk of infection, Cuomo said. Cleaning the subway is an opportunity for city officials to connect homeless people with government-funded services like food, shelter and mental health services, he said. 

Cuomo said he acknowledges the growing economic impact of COVID-19, but he will continue to prioritize public health over the economy. 

“I disagree with people who say ‘open the economy’ even though you know there is a public health risk,” Cuomo said. I’m not going to put dollar signs over human lives. Not for my family, not for yours.”

May 1:

Schools in New York state will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Cuomo said at a press conference. 

Students will continue to take classes remotely, Cuomo said. The state has not yet decided whether schools will open in the fall, but educators should begin developing plans for reopening with precautions in place to safeguard students and teachers, he said. 

The state will reach a decision on whether students may attend summer school programming by the end of the month, Cuomo said. 

“We must protect our students, we have to protect our educators,” Cuomo said. 

Insurers in New York state will waive all cost-sharing, copays and deductibles for mental health services for essential workers in the state throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, Cuomo said. The state is also setting up a hotline number specific for essential workers to receive support services, he said. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused serious mental health issues for many in New York state, and the state has seen increases in drug and alcohol use and domestic violence, Cuomo said. 

“This is an incredibly stressful, difficult time,” he said.

April 30: 

The governor detailed a statewide plan to track and isolate COVID-19 cases during a media briefing.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will lead the program, which aims to identify people who have been in close contact with infected residents to slow the virus’s spread. Program employees will interview residents who have tested positive about who they’ve had close contact with in the past two weeks, Cuomo said.

Residents who cannot self-isolate will be transferred to isolation facilities, Cuomo said. 

Bloomberg said that he and Johns Hopkins University are working with the New York State Department of Health to recruit applicants for a “tracing army.” Potential employees include Department of Health workers and government employees, Cuomo said. 

To increase protection for transit workers, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will disinfect all subways, trains and buses every 24 hours, Cuomo said. Subways in New York City will shut down every morning between the hours of 1 am and 5 am for cleaning, he said.

New York City will provide free alternative transportation to essential workers during these hours, Cuomo said.

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