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Cuomo unveils plan for two-phase reopening of New York State

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is looking ahead to a two-phase plan to reopen businesses in New York State, once it's considered safe to do so.

Cuomo, in his Sunday novel coronavirus briefing, said he envisions a plan in which construction and manufacturing activities "with low risk" would be the first types of businesses to return.

The second phase would encompass a wider range of businesses, examining how essential a service those businesses provide, and how risky it would be for those businesses to reopen.

"In phase two, when we get there, we need businesses to do that analysis," Cuomo said. "They have to think about how they're going to reopen with this 'new normal,' what precautions are they going to take in the workplace, what safeguards are they going to put in place."

There would be a two-week gap between the phases, in order to monitor the effects of the first phase.

The state remains officially on "pause" through May 15 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. And Cuomo said it would be essential to follow federal guidelines calling for state and regional hospitalization rates to be in decline for 14 consecutive days before a state should reopen.

"We get to May 15, what regions have seen a decline for 14 days?" he said. "That's where you will start the conversation to get to phase one in that region."

Cuomo said he envisions the reopening occurring on a regional basis, and monitoring the results.

"Upstate regions are more likely to be able to reopen sooner," Cuomo said. "You take like Central New York, you take the North Country, you take the Mohawk Valley. Those regions have seen lower numbers from Day One."

But regions would have to be careful about doing anything that would draw visitors from outside that region, he said.

"It's possible that you open something in Syracuse or you open something in the North Country and you now see license plates coming in from Connecticut, from New Jersey, people from downstate all coming to that area because they've been locked down and they're looking for an activity," he said.

Another factor that will be taken into consideration: reopening schools. "Schools are necessary for a large-scale business reopening," Cuomo said. "You couldn't really get to a maximum phase two without opening schools."

School districts are discussing how to proceed.

"Many local school districts are talking about summer school and they're contemplating summer school to make up for some of the lost time," he said.

Cuomo reported there were 367 Covid-19 deaths in the state on Saturday, including 349 in hospitals and 18 in nursing homes. The total was down from 437 the day before. The hospitalization rate continued to decline, Cuomo said.

Erie County reported testing 13,409 residents as of Sunday, with 2,996 of them testing positive for Covid-19, according to County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. He added that there were no new deaths to report as of late afternoon, which has often been the case on a Sunday.

Niagara County on Sunday reported 35 new positive cases of Covid-19 since Friday, bring the total to date to 394. The number of deaths from Covid-19 was unchanged at 21.

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