May 15, 2020
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Governor Cuomo Announces Five Regions Will Begin Reopening Today

TOP Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript:...

NYS on PAUSE Extended Until May 28 for Regions That Do Not Open Today; Region Can Enter Phase One of Reopening as Soon as it Hits Benchmark
 
Outlines Additional Guidelines for Phase One Businesses as They Begin to Reopen
 
Announces Multi-State Agreement on Beaches and Outlines Specific Conditions for New York Beaches to Reopen
 
Confirms 2,762 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 345,813; New Cases in 44 Counties
 
Governor Cuomo: "We're opening Phase 1 in those five regions today. ... We expect to see an increase but that increase has to be monitored and has to be controlled. We've talked about the infection rate, the rate of transmission. When the rate of transmission hits 1.1, you're headed towards a bad place so monitor that rate daily and correct immediately if you see an increase in those numbers."

 

WYSIWYG

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, earlier today Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced five regions will begin reopening today. The Central New York, North Country, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley Regions have met all seven metrics required to begin phase one of the state's regional phased reopening plan. NYS on PAUSE will be extended until May 28 for all regions that do not reopen today - Western New York, the Capital Region, the Mid-Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island. When a region meets all seven metrics required for reopening, that region may immediately enter phase one of reopening.

 

Governor Cuomo also outlined additional guidelines and protocols for phase one businesses as they begin to reopen:

 

Residential/Commercial Construction

  • All workers must have masks and wear them when within six feet of another worker
  • Employers must provide masks to all employees
  • No congregate meetings

 

Retail Business Owners - Curbside Pickup

  • Employee and purchaser in vehicle must wear a mask, gloves preferred
  • Hand sanitizer must be made available

 

Retail Business Owners - In-Store Pickup

  • Requires ordering ahead - pre-arranged orders
  • Social distancing required in store
  • No more than 50 percent of maximum occupancy
  • Patrons must wear masks
  • Store employees must wear masks, gloves preferred
  • Hand sanitizer must be made available

 

The Governor also announced a multi-state agreement with New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware to reopen beaches for Memorial Day Weekend. The Governor outlined specific conditions New York beaches must meet to reopen. State and local beaches and lakeshores in New York State may open the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend on the following minimum conditions:

  • Mandating no more than 50 percent capacity by ensuring controlled exits/entrances and limiting parking
  • Prohibiting group contact activities, including sports (e.g. volleyball, football)
  • Keeping areas of social gathering closed (e.g. designated picnic areas, playgrounds, pavilions, arcades, amusement rides)
  • Enforcing social distancing measures for both employees and visitors
  • Requiring masks to be worn by all employees and visitors when social distancing is not possible
  • Closing concessions
  • Ensuring staff levels are adequate to achieve these measures and enforce crowd control.

 

City, town and county beaches may open on the same conditions subject to local government home rule:

  • Local government must fully enforce minimum rules and may impose additional conditions
  • If local governments do not enforce minimum rules, the beach will be closed
  • Locals must notify the public by Wednesday, May 20 of their intention to open
  • Beaches can open on Friday before Memorial Day Weekend, May 22, 2020

 

Finally, the Governor confirmed 2,762 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 345,813 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 345,813 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:

 

County

Total Positive

New Positive

Albany

1,538

29

Allegany

44

0

Broome

390

7

Cattaraugus

64

0

Cayuga

61

1

Chautauqua

45

1

Chemung

133

1

Chenango

113

1

Clinton

85

4

Columbia

333

6

Cortland

33

0

Delaware

67

0

Dutchess

3,498

24

Erie

4,782

111

Essex

32

0

Franklin

17

0

Fulton

145

1

Genesee

175

0

Greene

209

2

Hamilton

5

0

Herkimer

87

1

Jefferson

71

2

Lewis

12

0

Livingston

106

0

Madison

256

1

Monroe

2,091

72

Montgomery

72

3

Nassau

38,864

121

Niagara

743

33

NYC

190,357

1,812

Oneida

713

15

Onondaga

1,440

17

Ontario

133

4

Orange

9,825

54

Orleans

147

2

Oswego

80

2

Otsego

67

0

Putnam

1,121

6

Rensselaer

428

5

Rockland

12,637

41

Saratoga

421

6

Schenectady

603

6

Schoharie

47

0

Schuyler

8

0

Seneca

49

0

St. Lawrence

192

0

Steuben

231

1

Suffolk

37,719

175

Sullivan

1,189

21

Tioga

110

2

Tompkins

136

0

Ulster

1,511

16

Warren

228

1

Washington

217

2

Wayne

91

2

Westchester

31,943

151

Wyoming

77

0

Yates

22

0

 

VIDEO of the Governor's remarks with ASL interpretation is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

  

AUDIO of today's remarks is available here.

    

PHOTOS will be available on the Governor's Flickr page

   

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

 

Good morning. Happy Friday. You guys look tired today but don't worry; it's Friday. Young guys need stamina. Friday, you'll have the weekend off. Oh, no, you won't. That's right.

 

Let's take a look and see where we are today. Total number of hospitalizations down, the way we like to see it. Rolling average down, the way we like to see it. Change in intubations down, the way we like to see it. Number of new cases up. We don't like to see that but it's only up a tick and again these numbers tend to bounce but it's been a slow decline and there's no doubt about that and you see there's been several plateaus in the decline. We are very curious to find out where that numbers winds up, how low the new cases go.

 

We've done a lot of  research as you know. Those new cases, mostly coming from people who are at home so we're talking about homes spread, more than at work, more than first responders, more than essential personnel. That's the hardest place to control the spread is when a person's literally at home. There are very few precautions. It's all about personal behavior. That's where those cases are coming from.

 

Number of deaths is down but still painful, 132. We are right about where we were when we started this. Number of lives lost if you go right back to March 27 and that's when we really first started this miserable journey.

 

Good news again if you look at New York, our curve is down. Congratulations, New Yorkers. And actually the curve in the rest of the nation is up so while cases are increasing across the country the number of cases in New York are actually going down and that's remarkable in some ways because we had more cases than anyone else -not because there is anything particular in the air in New York but because we had people coming from Europe bringing the virus at a time when no one knew the virus had moved from China to Europe and we had 3 million Europeans come January, February, March before we did the ban on European travel and those flights came to the East Coast and they landed at JFK Airport which was one of the funnel airports if you remember. So the problem had nothing to do with us but we were then tasked with resolving it and New Yorkers stepped up to the plate and have done a great job.

 

Question now is on reopening. We're going to open half the regions in this state today, five regions out of 10. They are the regions that meet the numerical criteria. There's no politics to this judgment. There is no arbitrary nature to this judgment. It's all on the numbers - seven criteria which basically measure the infection rate, hospitalization rate testing rate, et cetera, and that's how the decision is made.

 

For those regions that don't qualify to open today we're extending what's called the New York Pause order which is the closedown of services and institutions that have been closed down. If a region hits its benchmark at any time regardless of the pause order then that region can open.

 

We're opening Phase 1 in those five regions today. Just some points on each of those industries, residential, commercial, construction will open, indoor construction and outdoor. Masks must be worn by employees when they're six feet from one another so they must all have masks. The employer must provide the masks. Any gloves, any equipment that the employees need on that work site must be provided by the employer. There's no congregant meetings. For retail businesses curbside pickup starts. The employee and the purchaser in the vehicle must be wearing a mask. Anyone in the vehicle must be wearing a mask. Gloves are preferred but they're not mandated and the employer, the store owner must make hand sanitizer available. If curbside pickup is not practicable then in-store pickup is available, but it is in-store pick up. It is not in-store shopping. In-store pickup because curbside is not practicable requires ordering ahead, social distancing in the store, no more than 50 percent maximum occupancy of that store for people coming there to pick up. Patrons must wear a mask. Store employees must wear a mask. Gloves are preferred. Hand sanitizer has to be made available.

 

For an individual's behavior, people ask well what am I supposed to be doing as an individual? I'm not a store owner. I don't work construction. I understand as an employee what my requirements are but just what do I do in normal life? When you're in public and you're within six feet of another person, wear a mask. That is a requirement. Curbside or in-store pickup, wear a mask and socially distance. Store owners should not let you in the store for an in-store pickup if you don't have a mass. The exception is less than two years old or some people for medical reasons can't wear a mask. In a construction or manufacturing setting the employee must wear a mask whenever they can't socially distance and the employer has to meet certain precautions which they said they would when they reopen under this.

 

In private people ask what should I do. Well, then you have our best advice but in private is private, what you do in your home, what you do with your family, what you do with your personal relationships, your friendships. We've talked about exposure to senior citizens and how you should be careful to vulnerable populations but there were no government requirements on what you do in your home, et cetera.

 

The responsibility for local officials and what we call the regional control center, local officials have to enforce business compliance and social distancing. These businesses are opening subject to saying they will comply with safety precautions. Local officials have to make sure they are followed as well as social distancing guidelines for individuals. The regional control center will have a daily morning meeting where they review and monitor the infection, testing and hospitalization rates and I can't stress this enough. We're starting to turn the valve. One of my favorite graphics, not saying a  heck of a lot, starting to turn the activity valve, watch what happens to the infection rate, testing rate, hospitalization rate. If those numbers start to move, slow down on the activity level. That requires you to monitor the impact of this increase in public activity.

 

You will see an increase. We expect to see an increase but that increase has to be monitored and has to be controlled. We've talked about the infection rate, the rate of transmission. When the rate of transmission hits 1.1, you're headed towards a bad place so monitor that rate daily and correct immediately if you see an increase in those numbers.

 

Beaches, we've talked about coordinating with other states and this has happened in other parts of the country, other parts of the world also. We are one multistate region. What one state does will affect other states. That is probably nowhere more clear than when it comes to opening beaches. One state doesn't open beaches, another state does open beaches, you will see people flood to that state. Georgia opened barber shops, people drove from out of state to Georgia to get a haircut. If New Jersey opens beaches or Connecticut opens beaches and we didn't open beaches, you would see a flood of people to Connecticut and New Jersey and our relationship and responsibility to our other neighboring states is important. We want what's best for New York, but we want what's best for New Yorkers. It's not in New York's interest to have New Yorkers going to a Jersey beach which is now going to be overcrowded because you have people from New York and New Jersey going to that beach. It's not in our interest to have people going to Connecticut beaches if those beaches are then going to be overcrowded. We've worked with New Jersey and Connecticut. We've come up with an agreement that accommodates all needs and it was done in good faith. 

 

The agreement is New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware will all be opening beaches for the Memorial Day weekend. States will have different, specific rules about what happens on that beach. It will all be plus or minus, but they're all basically in the same ball park. They're opening Friday of Memorial Day weekend. State beaches, that includes local beaches, lake shores. It does not include pools, pools are closed. No more than 50 percent capacity and that will be done at parking areas, entrance areas, exit areas, et cetera. No group contact activities. No volleyball, no football, nothing like that. Areas of social gathering will be closed, picnic areas, et cetera. Playgrounds, pavilions, arcades. 

 

Social distancing will be enforced for employees and for visitors. Masks must be worn by employees and visitors must have masks and wear them when they can't socially distance. At this point, concessions will not be operating. We don't want long lines of people waiting for concession stands and we'll ensure that staff levels are adequate to enforce these measures. 

 

On the beaches that are controlled by cities, towns, counties, municipal beaches, municipal lakes, the local government can decide to open or stay closed. If they choose to open, they must adopt the state's requirements at a minimum and the chief executive can decide to do that. If they want to impose additional requirements above and beyond the state requirements, they are free to do that. That will be done by a home rule message and those decisions should be made by the locals by Wednesday, May 20 so we can plan accordingly. If a locality doesn't open beaches, we need to know that because then we'll have more demand on state beaches in that area. If they do open beaches, we need to know that also just to understand the flow, the traffic, and where we have to staff up. Again, the state beaches will be open the Friday before Memorial Day.

 

Last point, reopening must be smart. We have to keep this in focus. Remember, learn from the lessons that are around us. We've seen other countries open. We've seen cities open. We've seen them then close because the activity level went up too high too fast. We see countries like Germany that are reopening, but they're seeing that infection rate going up and they're monitoring it very closely. We expect the rate to go up, but it has to go up at a rate that we can control, right? The risk is the activity level increases quickly and then the virus spreads quickly, you overwhelm the health system, et cetera. This has to be monitored very closely.

 

A lot of it is going to fall on the local governments. We need them to really step up here on the compliance for businesses and individuals. The testing and tracing is one of the key monitors on that dashboard. They all meet the minimum testing and tracing requirements, but they have to do it, also. It has to be done every day. That is the logistical operational challenge. We're working with them to do that, but that has to be done every day. The monitoring of all the indicators, again, and quick reaction.


These indicators will be online for everyone, not just for local governments. They're on the website. I would suggest everyone look at them. Look at them for their county, their region, so they know exactly where they are every day. They're updated daily. How this goes is up to all of us. Stone to stone across the morass as my father used to say. You're going through a morass and we are in a morass, there's no doubt about that. Find the stone, find firm footing, and step onto that stone. Then you find the next stone, then you find the next stone. That's what we've been doing. This reopening is the most data-driven, fact-specific, science-driven reopening that has been done, period. It's all about the numbers and the facts. That's right. Second stone is, now you start to reopen. Do it intelligently, and do it with discipline, and not with emotion. And government has to be there and government has to perform. But to be up to all of us, it means it has to be up to each of us at the same time, right. That is very important here, that each of us understands our responsibility and that's how this has worked from day one.

 

Government, government, government. It's not about government. It's about what people have decided to do in this situation. How did we bend that curve? When they write the history books they're going to write about how New York turned that curve. And that was done by New Yorkers. It was not a governmental that act. No government could tell 19 million people, "Stay at home. Don't go to work. Wear a mask. Socially-distanced." That's not government action, that's social action. Those are people who choose to do the responsible thing. I think because we gave them the facts, but they reacted intelligently. They responded responsibly and we have to continue that.

 

You know with this virus, I just want to say on a personal level, and I want to make sure everybody understands this - -the facts here have been changing and the facts have only been getting more negative. This started that it was only going to attack vulnerable people, seniors, people with co-morbidities. I was speaking to a doctor today about a young person who passed away of a stroke, from Covid. No underlying conditions, nothing else. It was a stroke. No respiratory illness. Well, what happened? Well apparently, the virus can affect the heart, and the liver, and other organs besides the lungs, and we didn't know that.

 

Children weren't going to be infected. Accept now we're studying 100 cases where children are in fact affected by the virus and some of them very serious. And that 100 cases, I'll wager that's going to only go up and it's going to be much more widespread than anyone thinks. So, the amount of personal responsibility here to keep oneself safe, to keep one's family safe, I cannot stress highly enough, do not underestimate this virus and do not play with this virus.

 

I can be asymptomatic and not know that I have the virus. But I can put my hand down on this table today, you can come touch this table three hours from now and pick up the virus. I can walk into a store to pick up a package, not know that I have the virus, put my hand on stainless steel counter, you can come in the store the next day, put your hand on that counter and pick up the virus. I don't care how diligent the store owner is and how many masks you wear - that's how powerful this virus is. "Well it's only old people." No - tell that to the families who have a 8-year-old and 7-year-old in the hospital. Tell that to the 21-year-old girl's family, where the 21-year-old girl passed away. Everyone is vulnerable to this virus - everyone. And government can't keep you safe. Only you can keep yourself safe. But when you keep yourself safe and I keep myself safe, that's the way we keep all of us safe. That's the story of life, and that's the story of where we are today and that's the story of being New York tough, which is tough, but it's smart and united and disciplined and it's being loving and responsible for one another.

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Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office