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Cuomo says data and science, not emotions, will dictate reopening

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says if the state doesn’t take a cautious, data-driven approach to reopening the economy, then a second wave of coronavirus outbreaks can be expected and further shutdowns will be necessary.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined the criteria for reopening the economy during a visit to Rochester on Monday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined the criteria for reopening the economy during a visit to Rochester on Monday.

Cuomo outlined the criteria necessary for a region-by-region, phased-in reopening of business in the state during a visit Monday to Rochester.

“Rather than starting and stopping, you’d rather have a controlled start so you don’t have to stop,” Cuomo said from the Wegmans Conference Center in Chili, where he gave his daily briefing. “And that’s what you learn from the other countries. You reopen too fast, then you have to stop. And nobody wants to have gone through all of this, and then start, just to stop again.”

Many business owners and residents are growing increasingly frustrated by New York on Pause, which entered Day 45 on Monday. Cabin fever is setting in.

“I get it, I understand it, I’m sympathetic to it; everybody wants out,” Cuomo said. “I also know the facts of what has happened in the places that have done that. That was all those countries that saw a spike in cases right afterwards.

“Watch the other counties that went through this before us. You see they wanted to reopen, they were feeling the pressure on reopening, and you see that if you reopen too soon or you reopen unintelligently, then you can have an immediate backlash. And that’s not speculation, that’s looking at other counties and what has happened across the world.”

He said it is imperative that guidelines be followed when the pause plan expires on May 15, because he wants just one reopening.

“If the rate of transmission goes up, you stop the reopening,” he said.

In order to initiate a phased reopening, which will begin with construction and manufacturing, the following parameters must be met:

» Hospitalizations and deaths must have declined for at least 14 days on a three-day rolling average;

» There must be fewer than two new COVID-19 patients per 100,000 residents admitted to hospitals per day;

» Regions must have at least 30 percent of hospital beds as well as ICU beds available, and hospitals must have a 90-day supply of PPE;

» At least 30 tests for every 1,000 residents are performed each month;

» There must be a baseline of at least 30 contact tracers per 100,000 residents.

The Finger Lakes is one of five regions that meets all but two of the criteria, falling short in testing and tracers.

“The data does look very positive,” said Robert Duffy, president and CEO of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and Cuomo’s special advisor in the Finger Lakes Region. “We all want to reopen but it has to be done safely.”

Cuomo and Duffy both said every business should formulate a plan that will allow them to keep employees and customers safe once they get the go-ahead to reopen.

“We need businesses to re-imagine what they’re going to look like,” Cuomo said.

He stressed that everyone must continue to follow social distancing guidelines “because what we’ve done in this state has literally saved lives.”

“Forget the anecdotal, forget the atmospheric, forget the environmental, forget the emotional,” Cuomo said. “Look at the data, look at the measurements, look at the science, follow the facts. That’s what we’ve done here from Day 1.”

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