New York’s Reopening Stalled as ‘International Experts’ Weigh In
The reopening across New York State appears to be on hold.
On May 15, half of New York State started Phase 1 of the four-phased reopening process. Gov. Andrew Cuomo previously said each phase would likely take two weeks.
He said 14 days between each phase is an "estimate" because it gives officials time to gauge the spread of the virus. He did say if the numbers continue to go down, officials could accelerate the reopening.
While officials hope each region quickly moves through each stage, Cuomo has noted a region's reopening will be shut down if there's a new spike in COVID-19 cases.
Today, Friday, May 29, marks two weeks since the Central New York North Country, Mohawk Valley, Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions started Phase 1 of the reopening process. Officials from those regions expected to enter Phase 2 on Friday.
However, Cuomo hasn't really provided much guidance on Phase 2. New York Forward's website, which gave guidance on Phase 1 businesses, prior to Phase 1 starting, hasn't been updated to provide more info on Phase 2 businesses, as of Friday morning.
A graphic that appeared during Cuomo's COVID-19 briefing on Thursday did provide a little more info on what businesses can reopen in Phase 2.
Thursday evening, Cuomo appeared on WAMC Northeast Public Radio and said "international experts" will look at data from the regions in Phase 1 to determine when a region will enter Phase 2
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"The reopening in the first five regions ends tomorrow. When the reopening of phase one ends, we'll give the experts all the data. It is posted on the web but let them analyze it. And if they say we should move forward, we'll move forward," Cuomo said. "We have metrics. We have numbers. They're are the smartest data-based reopening plan in the country, I believe. We have international experts who go through it and we'll follow the data."
Cuomo responded with the following after WAMC's Alan Chartock asked him what the experts will be looking at.
"How many people are getting sick, what the infection rate, what is the transmission rate, what is the hospitalization rate, what is the contact tracing rate, what is the testing rate, all the data points. And we analyze it and then we give it to the international experts. And we are going to ask them to analyze it and if they sign off and say go to Phase 2," Cuomo said according to a transcript from the Governor's Office.
While this news comes to a surprise to many, last week Cuomo announced the state was bringing in international experts to help advise the state's reopening plan.
Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and Dr. Samir Bhatt, Senior Lecturer at Imperial College London will work with the state to provide advice and analyze data metrics throughout the state's reopening process and help track the state's progress, officials say.