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COVID-19: Dutchess, Putnam, Rockland, Orange County Execs Ask Cuomo To Start Phase 3 Earlier

County Executive MaryEllen Odell Photo Credit: File
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro. Photo Credit: Dutchess County Gov. Facebook
County Executive Steve Neuhaus Photo Credit: Steve Neuhaus Facebook
Rockland County Executive Ed Day Photo Credit: Ed Day Facebook

Some county executives in the Hudson Valley are imploring New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow the region to enter Phase 3 of reopening earlier than originally planned.

In a letter to Cuomo, the county execs in Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, and Rockland county requested that the region be allowed to enter the third phase of reopening the economy earlier than originally scheduled.

In Phase 3, indoor dining is permitted, as well as personal care services such as nail salons and tattoo parlors, though all businesses will be under strict restrictions.

Currently, Western New York, the Capital Region, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Central New York, Mohawk Valley, and North Country are in Phase 3.

The Hudson Valley is scheduled to enter Phase 3 on Tuesday, June 23, with Long Island joining a day later. New York City is on track to enter Phase 2 on Monday, June 22.

In their letter to Cuomo, County Executives Marc Molinaro, Steve Neuhaus, MaryEllen Odell, and Ed Day said that the collective is asking him to be "protective of the people in the region by respecting data and facts of the situation by reopening on Friday, June 19."

“In establishing these control rooms across New York State you pledged to let those most familiar with the situation on the ground make decisions; this is also implied in the name, ‘control room,’ yet you continue to ignore local input and requests,” they wrote.

“Requests that we make, not for the ‘political reasons,’ you so often rail against during your briefings, but that we make to protect the wellbeing of our residents and the future of our communities.”

In the letter, the County Executives made note that much of the input they’ve provided to the state on certain rules and regulations were later put into effect by the governor, though some actions came too late, they said, specifically citing the case of special education students.

The officials also made note that if the region were permitted to enter Phase 3 on Friday, it would allow families more freedom to celebrate Father’s Day, and the new date for entering Phase 4 would be Friday, July 3, the day before Independence Day.

“The data you rely on for your decision-making process is positive,” they said. “We have moved through Memorial Day, hot summer weekends, and large protests and have not seen an uptick in case numbers. We are being responsible, not only in monitoring the data, but by being proactive at all times.

“Our businesses have submitted their affirmations by the thousands; they have created thorough health and safety plans based on New York State’s guidance. Thanks to your leadership we have a strong contact tracing program in place. We are ready to take the next step.”

Since the pandemic was first reported in New Rochelle in mid-March, Cuomo and his administration have been methodical in reopening the state’s economy in four phases, slowly allowing some businesses to reopen.

Cuomo has been steadfast in regions following the state’s guidelines and timeline, which allows for a new phase every two weeks as long as the COVID-19 numbers continue to stay steady.

“Every phase has rules, and if you follow the rules it will be a controlled opening of the economy,” he said on Thursday, June 18. “It’s up to local governments to do their job and enforce the rules and regulations that are in place.

“It’s not just that we reopen and ‘hallelujah’ let us reopen everything. We’ve seen other states do that and it doesn’t work,” Cuomo said. “Phases have rules, and that’s what makes it a phased reopening. If we ignore the rules, then it’s not a phased opening.”

At the conclusion of their letter, the Hudson Valley officials quoted the governor’s own words from his COVID-19 briefing earlier this week.


“Governor as you said during your press briefing on Wednesday, June 17th, ‘we’re going to turn the page on the immediacy of this crisis,’” they wrote.

“With the immediate crisis past it is time to also turn the page in support of our residents. Our communities are ready for the next step and on behalf of the residents of the Mid-Hudson region we thank you for your consideration of this request.”

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