Coronavirus Updates: Some New York Regions Meet Guidelines To Begin Reopening Friday

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This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Sunday, May 10th, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here.

Read our guide to understanding New York on PAUSE, NY’s stay-at-home order; a look at preparing for the spread of coronavirus is here, and if you have lingering questions about the virus, here is our regularly updated coronavirus FAQ. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.

12:50 p.m.: Three regions in New York State are set to reopen on Friday after meeting a set of seven metrics regarding hospitalizations, testing, and each local regions’ tracing capacity, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced during a press briefing in Monroe County on Monday.

The Finger Lakes region, Mohawk Valley, and the Southern Tier are expected to begin a phased reopening of businesses on May 15th.

Cuomo also announced that landscaping, gardening, low-risk outdoor activities like tennis, and drive-in move theaters are able to reopen statewide beginning Friday. City Hall spokesperson Freddi Goldstein, however, said the de Blasio administration hadn’t heard of the announcement previously and doesn’t plan to open tennis courts in NYC parks. The Parks Department deferred to City Hall’s response. The Governor’s office did not immediately clarify either.

“We’re now on the other side of the mountain. Next step: how do we reopen? How do we reopen intelligently? And how do we reopen without taking a step back,” Cuomo said.

The seven metrics—involving hospitalizations, deaths, hospital beds, and local regions’ ability to test and trace the coronavirus—are being monitored to determine when the phased reopening could begin in various regions of the state.

“This can be a science. It can be measured. That’s what we want to do. We want to demystify this entire issue,” the governor said.

The first phase includes construction, manufacturing, retail with curbside pickup, and agriculture businesses. The three latter phases include industries like retail, real estate, restaurants and food services, hotels, arts, entertainment, and education.

Various safety precautions would have to be implemented during a reopening—like social distancing in the workplace and health screenings. Regional control groups with appointed local leaders will be set to ensure the reopening doesn’t occur too quickly.

“This reopening phase is locally driven, regionally driven, and regionally designed. The businesses that can open are the businesses that are approved by that region and approved with these conditions,” Cuomo said.

Earlier on Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that New York City could begin its reopening as soon as June.

According to the governor’s metrics, NYC has met four of the seven metrics.

The city still must reduce its hospitalizations to under 2 per 100,000 residents and keep 30 percent of the total hospital beds and intensive care unit beds available. (NYC is currently at 3.46 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents and has 29 percent of total hospital beds available, according to a chart Cuomo presented during his press conference. 24 percent of ICU beds are open.) The city’s contact tracing ability is labeled as “expected” to be in place, counting as one of the achieved milestones.

161 people died of COVID-19 overnight in the state, the governor announced. Among those deaths, 112 were in hospitals and 49 in nursing homes.

A total of 21,639 people have died.

With WNYC’s Gwynne Hogan.

De Blasio Says City Could Reopen As Early As June

11 a.m. Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that the earliest that the city could reopen would be in June, based on the latest hospitalization and infection trends.

During his daily press conference, de Blasio was asked about the reopening and noted that the city had neither met its own benchmarks nor that of the state’s.

“By both sets of measures, we are clearly not ready yet,” de Blasio said. “June is when we can make real changes.”

Prior to his statement, the mayor had said that New York City was at least “a few months away” from reopening.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has outlined seven health and testing milestones that regions must meet in order to reopen. For some regions, that could mean as early as May 15th, which is when the state’s stay-at-home order is set to expire.

According to the state’s criteria, New York City has yet to satisfy four requirements. The share of open hospital and ICU beds is still below 30 percent and the number of new hospitalizations has yet to fall under 2 per 100,000 residents. The city has also yet to hire enough contact tracers, which the state has said must be at least 30 tracers per 100,000 residents. That would amount to 2,520 total tracers for the city. However, de Blasio last week announced an ambitious plan to hire 2,500 public health workers and expand that number to between 5,000 and 10,000. According to De Blasio, the city has received nearly 7,000 applications for contact tracers.

Complicating the city’s reopening process is the fact that Mayor de Blasio has introduced his own set of criteria. Since around early April, the city has been gauging the number of hospitalizations due to suspected COVID-19 cases in New York City hospitals, the number of those admitted to intensive care units at the city’s 11 public hospitals, and the percentage of people who are testing positive for the virus.

De Blasio has said that should all three data points continue to fall for 10 days to two weeks, the city could begin lifting some restrictions.

The mayor has been reporting the numbers, which have a two-day lag, at his daily press briefings. The data points have tended to fluctuate day-to-day, but on Monday the three all fell. Most notably, the city reported that the number of people admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19 infections fell to 55 from 69. (Weekend data, however, has tended to have a reporting lag.)

A New York Times story on Sunday described the host of factors complicating the city’s reopening, including its density and a need to build an elaborate and massive test and tracing operation.

“We got to keep bringing it back to the science and the data,” de Blasio said, adding, “We have to earn it every day.”

“Covid Toe” And Other New Unexpected Symptoms Of COVID-19 You May Never Heard Of

Despite there being more than four million COVID-19 cases worldwide, doctors are still learning about the way the disease attacks the body. The symptoms the public was originally told to look out for are fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. But last month, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention added six additional symptoms to its checklist for the virus, including chills, sore throat and loss of smell and taste.

As the Washington Post reports on Monday, it has become abundantly clear that what was thought to be a respiratory illness can in fact have a range of potentially deadly bodily effects.

“We don’t know why there are so many disease presentations,” Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, told the Post. “Bottom line, this is just so new that there’s a lot we don’t know.”

The growing list of symptoms has become increasingly alarming—from strokes and neurological issues to kidney and heart damage. Less serious effects include vomiting, diarrhea and pinkeye.

There is also the strange condition known as “covid toe,” a painful rash on the toes that resembles an illness known as chilblains.

The rash is said to begin on a part of the toe with signs of swelling that can be accompanied with itching or a burning sensation. Over the last few weeks, doctors across the country have reported being inundated with cases of covid toe. So much so that dermatologists are now pushing for the condition to be considered one of the criteria for coronavirus testing.

A man's toes showing what looks like a rash with red blotchy skin. A common side effect of Covid-19 often referred to as "Covid toe."

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A man’s toes showing what looks like a rash with red blotchy skin. A common side effect of Covid-19 often referred to as “Covid toe.” Chris Curry / Shutterstock

It’s not the sole skin-related symptom; other people have reported experiencing hives and morbilliform, a measles-like rash.

On a more concerning level, children that have been infected with coronavirus are also presenting with inflammatory symptoms such as rash, fever, red eyes, red lips and swollen, “strawberry” tongue. Called pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, the state has reported 85 potential cases, 38 of which are in New York City. Three children in New York are known to have died from the syndrome.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is said to be working with New York to develop criteria for the new disease affecting children, but it has yet to issue an alert or information about the symptoms.

As of Monday, more than 4 million people have been infected by coronavirus worldwide, and more than 280,000 have died, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

Here in the United States, 1.3 million have been infected. The country is now set to surpass 80,000 deaths.

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