ROCHESTER — No region of New York is safe to start reopening based on current COVID-19 numbers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday after announcing additional reopening guidelines.
Regions of the state will reopen in four phases with two weeks between each phase. Construction, manufacturing and curbside pickup retail will open first. Phase II businesses include professional services, finance and insurance, retail, administrative support and real estate, with restaurants and hotels set to reopen in Phase III. Arts, entertainment, recreation and educational facilities will open in the final stage, or Phase IV, of reopening.
“You open businesses that are the most essential and pose the lowest risk,” Cuomo said Monday during a coronavirus briefing from the Wegmans Conference Center in Rochester. “Density is not your friend here. Large gatherings are not your friend.”
The state will monitor a region’s new coronavirus infections and its health care, diagnostic testing and contact tracing capacities to determine when a region can start reopening.
No region of New York met the state’s guidelines to reopen as of Monday afternoon. The Capital Region has not seen a 14-day decline in hospitalizations and does not meet the state’s new testing capacity requirements.
Regions must have appropriate testing and contact tracing to restart the economy. An area must have 30 tests for every 1,000 residents per month and a baseline of 30 contact tracers — or people who track who infected New Yorkers have been in contact with — for every 100,000 residents to start the reopening process.
Regions will calculate their COVID-19 rate of transmission with a formula using virus hospitalization, diagnostic testing and contact tracing rates. To reopen, a region’s infection rate, or rate of transmission, must be 1.1% or lower, meaning a person with COVID-19 is infecting one other person or fewer.
“If you do those things, you will help control the spread of the virus, which is everything,” Cuomo said.
Regions must have at least a 14-day decline in total COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths on a three-day average, per CDC guidelines. Regions with few virus cases cannot exceed 15 new cases or five deaths on a three-day average.
A region must admit fewer than two new COVID-19 patients per 100,000 residents per day to monitor the spread of infection. Regions must have at least 30% total hospital and intensive care unit beds available.
New York hospitals, which include 20 public and 176 private institutions, must have a 90-day supply of PPE in preparation for a second COVID-19 surge.
New York’s COVID-19 fatalities reached 19,368 Monday — up from 18,862 Saturday and 19,142 Sunday. The state saw 226 virus-related deaths Sunday, its lowest daily death toll in more than a month, including 193 in hospitals and 33 in nursing homes. The death rate continues a slight decline from 280 Saturday, 299 Friday and 289 Thursday.
The state tested 1,007,310 people as of Sunday, revealing 318,953 total positive cases of COVID-19. Monday marked 65 days since New York’s first confirmed case. New York’s hospitalization rates also continued a downward trend to 9,647 patients Monday from 9,786 Sunday, down 139 patients. The state reported 315 newly admitted virus patients Sunday.
The state reported 3,330 patients in intensive care. The net change in intubations was down 78 fewer patients to 2,743 total, according to the governor’s office. New hospitalizations average about 900 cases daily statewide.
New York’s National Guard made nearly 300,000 testing kits. About 60,000 of the testing kits were sent Monday to labs and hospitals statewide.
Most international flights from Asia to the U.S. land at West Coast airports, Cuomo said, adding European travelers — most likely from Italy — brought COVID-19 to the East Coast this winter. Officials are studying reports the virus strain that has ravaged New York is more lethal, or severe, than the strain that originated from Wuhan.
The state reported 2,758 European flights landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens between Feb. 5 and March 16. During that same period, 1,200 European flights landed in Newark and 773 landed in Chicago — each major U.S. coronavirus hotspots.
At the time, officials were not watching Italy or Europe.
“The China travel ban may have been helpful, but the horse was out of the barn,” Cuomo said. “Today, we must consider an outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere.”
New York had an estimated 10,700 COVID-19 cases in February — weeks before the state’s first official confirmed case March 1, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa said Sunday.
U.S. airports screened passengers arriving from Wuhan, China, starting Jan. 16. President Donald Trump’s executive order blocking travel from China went into effect Feb. 2. Trump restricted most European travel March 11, expanding the ban to all European travelers March 16.
Cuomo reminded New Yorkers on Sunday and Monday the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic struck the nation in three waves over two years, with the second wave more devastating than the first. States must learn lessons from other countries, such as China, Germany and Singapore, which experienced a surge in virus infections over the last two weeks after relaxing social-distancing measures.
“We expect experts to know so we push them to know,” Cuomo said. “Sometimes the answer is, ‘I don’t know.’ Sometimes that’s the honest answer.”
New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts will work together to develop a regional supply chain of personal protective equipment — gloves, gowns and face masks — testing and other medical supplies, including ventilators, through the pandemic and in preparation for future outbreaks.
States will procure a three-month PPE and medical equipment supply for the seven-state region by finding local suppliers, which Cuomo said will boost economic development while nonessential businesses remain closed.
“The COVID-19 pandemic created a mad scramble for medical equipment across the entire nation,” Cuomo said. “As a state and as a nation, we can’t go through that again.
“Why are we buying billions of dollars of PPE from China? Let’s do the purchasing in this country,” he added. “...Whatever help [the federal government] gives us is great, but they’ve made it clear it’s up to the governors. Whatever we can do on our own is best.”
Cuomo reiterated the need for New Yorkers to wear face masks or coverings to protect others, saying it’s disrespectful not to.
“You wear the mask not for yourself — you wear the mask for me,” Cuomo said. “Be responsible and show respect. Is that too much for us to ask one another? It’s such a little thing to ask of people when people are doing so much.”