With cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) stabilizing in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the state will take a regional approach to reopening the economy.
Speaking in Buffalo before heading to the White House to discuss COVID-19 testing with federal officials, including President Trump later in the day on Tuesday, April 21, Cuomo said that with different parts of the state being impacted differently by the virus, he would be taking a regional approach to reopening non-essential businesses.
“In this state, we have very different regions within New York,” Cuomo said. “People think of New York and they think fo New York City, but you also have upstate New York, and in some counties, you have more cows than people. People don’t think of New York that way.
Cuomo noted that downstate was the first to feel the impacts of COVID-19, though it appears to now be trending in the right direction. Meanwhile, upstate New York may still be subject to an upswing in cases.
Currently, New York City is reporting 64 percent of COVID-19 cases, while Long Island represents 21 percent of cases. Westchester and Rockland have seen 8 percent of cases, and the rest of the state consisted of just 7 percent of all COVID-19 cases.
“You have to watch the individual curves of different regions, and when does a high point (in cases) for that region hit. How long is the ascent up the mountain, when do you plateau and then how steep is the descent,” he said.
During his COVID-19 briefing, Cuomo said that as part of his “Reimagine New York” strategy, former Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy will be tasked as a special advisor in the Finger Lakes region, while current Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will be in charge of Western New York’s public health and reopening strategy.
“The State of New York is large and made up of very different regions. Each region is experiencing unique timing with the curve of this virus. We have to think regionally, and act based on the facts on the ground,” Cuomo said. “We will make reopening decisions in New York State on a regional basis. We recognize not all regions are impacted with COVID-19 in the same way. It’s the logical thing to do.”
Cuomo said he planned to discuss the need for the government to oversee testing as well as federal financial relief for states during his meeting at the White House, which is scheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday.
Cuomo also announced elective surgeries may be resumed at hospitals in areas of the state where the risk of an outbreak is low.
Restrictions on elective surgery will remain in place in New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Dutchess, Sullivan, Ulster, Richmond, Schuyler, Kings, Albany, Erie, Clinton, Yates and Rensselaer counties as the state continues to monitor the rate of new COVID-19 infections in the region.
There were 481 new COVID-19 deaths reported in New York yesterday, as the total statewide climbed to 14,828 since the outbreak began, though the total number of hospitalizations and intubations are lower. There are currently 242,786 confirmed COVID-19 cases in New York, and 800,932 cases nationwide.
“We’re going to use a regional template when we talk about reopening. We’re going to look at the numbers for that region, the hospitalization rate, the infection rate, hospital capacities, and we’re going to see what it is in that region,” Cuomo said. “We’re going to make a regional determination about how we plan to phase our reopening. It’s going to be data-driven on the when and the how, it won’t be political.”
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