We understand if you have had enough bad news these days. If it feels as if March has dragged on for another two months, you’d be right.
But it’s May and there is still snow around. We’re winter-weary in the spring and the COVID-19 lockdown is easing but still holding a tight grip.
So the news Wednesday that New York’s North Country region will start to reopen at the end of the week, but the Capital District, meaning Greene and Columbia counties, will not be ready after a spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations, was not greeted warmly.
The North Country is the state’s fourth region cleared to start reopening businesses Friday when the NY On Pause executive order expires. Officials green-lighted the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley regions to start reopening earlier this week.
Regions are cleared to open after meeting seven criteria about an area’s coronavirus hospitalization, infection and death rates, available hospital beds, testing and tracing capacity.
We missed on one major factor, and it’s a critical one. The rising death toll in nursing homes is keeping the Capital District from reopening its economy at this time. Rest assured, this news was not greeted warmly, either.
But much of the data that support the state’s guidelines indicate the region may be seeing light at the end of the tunnel.
One encouraging sign is health care workers having a lower infection rate than the general population proves correctly that wearing and using personal protective equipment, such as face masks, gloves or gowns, reduces the virus’s spread.
“You know what that means? That means PPE works,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “Masks work.”
Four regions have met all seven metrics required to begin reopening. New York is doing something that many other states are not doing: Taking as much time as is needed to start resuming something like normalcy and not rushing into quick fixes that risk a new and deadly surge of the virus. This is going to work only if the seven steps toward reopening are taken slowly and patiently. With luck and sound judgment, the worst of this siege may be over.