Cuomo Says 2 More NY Regions—Western, Capital—Set To Reopen

WCBS 880 Newsroom
May 17, 2020 - 12:25 pm

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    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that two more regions in New York state are set to begin the first phase of reopening.

    Cuomo said the Western New York and Capital regions have met the final metrics for reopening.

    The governor said the two regions just need to finalize their testing and tracing, which he called a purely “administrative function.”

    'There's been a shift in the Capital region and in Western New York," Cuomo said. "Where on the seven metrics, on the metrics they are qualified for reopening. There is still a need to increase tracing—the number of people who are prepared to do tracing. That is a pure administrative function. We will be working with the Capital region and Western New York to get that tracing up."

    Cuomo said the Capital region needs another 166 tracers of the 383 tracers it requires, while Western New York needs another 352 of the 521 it needs.

    "But that's the only function that has to be performed for those regions to open," Cuomo said.

    The two regions join five others—Central New York, North Country, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley Regions—that have begun the gradual process of reopening.

    That leaves only three regions—the Mid-Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island—that have not yet met the benchmarks to begin phase one.

    Cuomo’s plan allows construction, agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, manufacturing and wholesale trade businesses to start reopening in the first phase. Retail stores can also provide curbside or in-store pickup or drop-off.

    The state is still advising residents to wear masks, practice social distancing and avoid contact with vulnerable individuals. And prohibitions on large gatherings of any size remain in effect.

    Find out more about the first phase of reopening here.

    Cuomo also announced 139 more deaths in the state. That brings the state’s death toll to 22,617.

    There are 348,232 reported cases in the state, with 2,419 new positive cases as of Sunday.

    Cuomo encouraged people across the state to get tested for COVID-19, saying testing was key to beating back the virus and is now key to monitoring it as the state reopens.

    “It’s an incredibly large universe of people that can get tested,” Cuomo said, noting that there are now over 700 testing site available to people across the state.

    New York testing
    Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Office

    The governor said people who can get tested include: anyone with COVID-19 symptoms; anyone who had contact with a person who was positive; anyone who is subject to a precautionary or mandatory quarantine; anyone who is employed as a health care worker, nursing home worker or first responder; any essential worker who interacts with the public; and anyone who will return to a workplace under phase one.

    "You don’t even have to be New York tough to take that test," Cuomo said as he brought in a health professional to give him a test live during the briefing.

    Cuomo tested
    Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Office

    Cuomo also announced an increase in the number of cases of a rare inflammatory syndrome linked to COVID-19 that affects kids.

    Called Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (PMIS), the condition has now been diagnosed in over 120 children in the state. Several children, including a 5-year-old boy in New York City and a 7-year-old boy in Westchester, have died.

    "I don’t believe it’s only 120 children," Cuomo warned. "I believe this is a syndrome that we are just discovering." 

    Cuomo also brought up the mental health crisis that the coronavirus outbreak has caused.

    He called it a "very subtle but present mental health crisis that is going on." 

    "Don't underestimate the trauma that this has created for people," Cuomo said, adding that the outbreak can be like "living a science fiction movie."

    He said people can reach the New York State Emotional Support Hotline at 1-844-863-9314. Additional mental health resources are available at headspace.com/ny. Another resource is howareyoureally.org.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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