ALBANY – Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday that all New York State on Pause restrictions and closures will be extended until May 15.
Cuomo said the extension was taken in consultation with other regional states and that group of states – which include Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut – will re-evaluate after the additional closure period.
As part of his order earlier this week involving the wearing of masks in public when social distancing is not possible, Governor Cuomo also directed all New Yorkers to wear masks or face coverings on public transportation systems and while taking private transportation or riding in for-hire vehicles. Additionally, all operators of public systems, private carriers and for-hire vehicles must wear a mask or face covering at all times while working. The Executive Order will go into effect Friday at 8 p.m.
The Governor also announced the state will give 100 ventilators to New Jersey. The move is a sign that New York State is continuing to see a gradual decline in new COVID-19 cases as other states start to see their case count and number of hospitilizations ramp up. Yesterday Cuomo also announced the state will give 100 ventilators to Michigan and 50 ventilators to Maryland.
PLAN TO UN-PAUSE NYS
Governor Cuomo on Thursday also outlined his blueprint to un-pause New York, getting people back to work and easing social isolation without triggering renewed spread of the virus. He said the ultimate plan will be implemented in coordination with other states in the multi-state council.
- Do No Harm – Step one is to continue controlling the rate of infection. This includes extending the NY Pause order until May 15th and implementing additional measures to reduce the rate of infection, including requiring masks in public when social distancing is not possible.
- Strengthening the healthcare system – Step two is continuing the surge and flex strategy to ensure anyone who needs medical attention gets it, building out the strategic stockpile of PPE and other medical equipment, and sharing resources amongst states and localities.
- Testing and Contact Tracing – The best tool to inform decisions and calibrate progress of any phased reopening of the economy is through both diagnostic and antibody testing. The states need the federal government to partner on this effort and bring it to the mass scale that is needed. With the help of an army of investigators, contact tracing needs to be done to help limit the virus spread.
- Phased Return to “New Normal”:
- Evaluating Risk by Industry: The ‘Un-Pause NY’ approach is designed to open businesses in phases of priority. Businesses considered “more essential” with inherent low risks of infection in the workplace and to customers will be prioritized, followed by other businesses considered “less essential” or those that present a higher risk of infection spread. As the infection rate declines, the pace of reopening businesses will be increased.
- Precautions and Practices for businesses to consider to guide phased return to “new normal”:
- Transport: Ensure employees have means for safe transport (i.e., masks, gloves for public transit) or require telecommuting/work from home.
- Workplace: Ensure workplaces are designed to include social distancing measures (i.e., desks six feet apart, conference rooms redesigned), telecommuting for those who can and the most vulnerable
- Customer Interaction: Ensure measures designed to ensure minimal contact with customers, ensure public-interacting employees have necessary protective supplies such as gloves, masks, etc.). Special precautions should be taken for businesses that primarily interact with the most vulnerable populations.
- Proactive Infection Plan: Ensure protocols in place should an employee develop COVID-19 symptoms or test positive (i.e. work from home plan)
“Now that we’ve shown we can flatten the curve and our efforts to control the spread of the virus are working, we must focus on a smart, effective plan to un-pause New York,” Governor Cuomo said. “The first part of the plan is to do no harm – don’t let that infection rate go up to the best of your ability and don’t lose the progress that we have made. Second, now that we have some stability in our health care system after a weeks-long overdrive, we continue to strengthen that system and ramp up testing and contact tracing to identify those who are sick and isolate them so they don’t transmit the virus to others. Then we can focus on phasing an economic return to the new normal – but we need all those activities going on at the same time for our plan to un-pause New York to work.”
Cuomo did not say if the plan would also include a regional approach to bringing the economy back on line – something that has been suggested by Chautauqua County’s legislative representatives in Albany – Sen. George Borrello and Assemblyman Andy Goodell.
Cuomo said that New York saw 8,505 additional cases of novel coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the statewide total to 222,284 confirmed cases. There’s also been over 14,800 deaths in the state since the pandemic began.
Meanwhile the Chautauqua County Health Department said on Thursday that there are currently 88 people under quarantine/isolation orders by the Public Health Director and being monitored. Not all of those being monitored are confirmed to have COVID-19 but have either shown symptoms, are awaiting results, or have risk factors. In addition, there was 1 new confirmed case reported, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the county to 27, 5 of which remain active. There’s also been a total of 3 deaths and 19 cases counted as “recovered.”
493 negative test results have also been reported to date.