New York, the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US, will end its statewide shutdown on Friday by reopening three regions where the health crisis has shown signs of weakening, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
Addressing the media on Monday, Cuomo said three regions in the northern part of the state — the Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley, and the Finger Lakes — will enter the first of four reopening phases, reports Xinhua news agency.
Some low-risk businesses including landscaping and gardening, as well as recreational activities such as tennis can also resume across the state on Friday, said the Governor.
“We are starting a new chapter in the fight against this virus — we’ve worked together as a state to flatten the curve and the decline has finally reached a point where it is just about where we started this journey, so now we can turn to reopening,” said Cuomo.
The seven metrics for determining whether a region could reopen include decline in total hospitalizations, decline in deaths, new hospitalizations, hospital bed capacity, ICU bed capacity, diagnostic testing capacity and contact tracing capacity.
Industries including construction, manufacturing, wholesale supply chain, agriculture, forestry and fishing could restart operating during the first phase, and a two-week monitoring period is required before entering the next phase, Cuomo said.
If a region sees a failure in meeting all the seven metrics, the reopening effort would be paused until those metrics are met again, he said.
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday that non-essential businesses will not reopen before June “unless something miraculous happens”.
He saidthat the city, which has reported over 185,000 COVID-19 cases, was “clearly not ready yet”, while “by June we will make progress if we keep up what we have been doing”.
New York state has also reported as many as 93 cases of children with a rare inflammatory syndrome likely linked to COVID-19, said Cuomo.
He said at least three children have died, while two more fatalities were under investigation.
According to Cuomo, the syndrome has features that resemble those of Kawasaki Disease or Toxic Shock Syndrome.
Most of the kids have tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies or novel coronavirus, though the connection between the disease and the virus is not yet determined.
This new condition has been reported from across the country during the past week, and the state’s health department is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop national criteria to help health experts in other 49 states to identify and respond to the disease.
So far, a total of 337,055 COVID-19 cases have been reported in New York state, accounting for 25 per cent of the national total, with 26,721 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
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