Coronavirus

New York’s plan to reopen

COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are declining but the state needs more testing, supplies and federal funding to safely reopen.

Governor Cuomo on April 29th

Governor Cuomo on April 29th Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

New York’s “Pause” order, which forced non-essential businesses to close their offices and storefronts, is scheduled to end on May 15. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been discussing his 12-step plan to gradually reopen the state soon after the order lifts.

But is the state ready to reopen at all? Probably not.

On Monday, Cuomo said that the executive order may need to be extended further for other parts of the state with higher COVID-19 infection rates. "We have to learn the lessons, we have to move forward and we have to be smart because if you are not smart, you will see that infection rate go right back to where it was," Cuomo said during a press conference. "We will be right back to where we were 58 days ago, and nobody wants to do that."

Companies will only be able to reopen in regions of the state where hospitalizations and death rates have been in decline for at least two weeks, per the Center of Disease Control’s guidelines. The state will then assess the results of the region’s reopening before allowing other regions to reopen. On Thursday, the governor also discussed the possibility of lifting some social distancing measurements after May 15, in some upstate regions, with New York City following suit a few weeks later.

Many residents of upstate New York have been aggressively pushing for the state to begin returning back to normal, as upstate has seen considerably fewer infections per capita and has been far less affected than downstate. Despite that eagerness, there’s a lot that needs to happen before the state can safely begin to reopen. 

New York is seeing a considerable decline in coronavirus hospitalizations and has made it past the virus’ peak, but it still needs to ramp up its testing abilities, hire contact tracers and figure out a better way to isolate infected individuals. If it pushes ahead and reopens too soon, the state could potentially face a far worse resurgence of the infectious disease in the coming months, according to public health experts. 

While the state has made considerable progress gathering more of the supplies it needs to combat the virus, such as masks and tests, it still needs more. Since New York’s outbreak began, state officials have been calling upon the federal government and President Donald Trump to provide it with the funding it needs to purchase and manufacture the supplies it needs. Last week, Trump agreed to help the state obtain the supplies it needs to increase its testing capacity but even the agreed-upon goal of 40,000 tests per day is far below expert estimates of how many tests would be needed to safely reopen.

The federal government’s latest COVID-19 stimulus bill contains $25 billion for states nationwide to obtain tests, but some say that is not close to enough funding. And on Tuesday, Trump threatened to withhold future funding from all states with sanctuary cities, unless they agree to comply with federal immigration policies and hand residents over to ICE, making the state’s ability to expect much needed funds more precarious. “Testing won’t work if it’s impossible to get. Testing won’t work if it’s too hard to get,” Cuomo said on Tuesday.

The state’s ability to ramp up its testing capabilities will dictate its ability to implement an effective contact tracing program that would identify, track and isolate COVID-19 cases. Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and New Zealand have all used widespread testing and comprehensive contact tracing to contain their COVID-19 outbreaks. As a result, they all have seen fewer deaths per capita than the U.S. 

Last week, New York announced that it was in the beginning stages of creating a test and trace program with the help of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will be manning the project. On Thursday, Cuomo said that the state would need anywhere between 6,400 and 17,000 contact tracers. That same day, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also announced that the city will be hiring 1,000 contact tracers immediately, but that’s still far below the number needed. And hiring contact tracers will no doubt be a more arduous task than state officials realize. Currently, there are fewer than 2,000 professionally trained contact tracers in the country and it typically takes about a year to train tracers. However, states across the country are working to expedite training to set up expansive contact tracing programs.

Another problem facing the state is its lack of designated quarantine and isolation centers in which to place sick individuals or those who have been exposed to the virus. On Tuesday, Cuomo said that creating isolation centers is a part of its plan to reopen. China did this in February, as its number of coronavirus cases began to climb, creating 20 quarantine centers where it sent its sick to recuperate to prevent further spreading the virus. This significantly helped curtail the virus’ spread and prevented individuals from infecting whomever they may have been living with.

Even if the state does manage to suppress the virus through social distancing measures and minimal testing, it’s likely the virus will return with a vengeance this fall, according to The Atlantic. In 1918, the U.S. assumed that its influenza pandemic had ended in the spring but it returned in the winter and the spring of 1919, causing far more damage than it had initially. The only way the virus will ever be completely eradicated or controlled, is if a vaccine or more dramatically effective treatments, such as antiviral drugs or immune system fortifying treatments become available.

While New York may have fumbled in its response to the outbreak initially, it can avoid creating a further strain on its hospitals and residents by preparing for future outbreaks as soon as it’s able. It can stockpile ventilators, personal protective equipment and testing materials. It can ensure that it has enough hospital beds and intensive care unit beds, so that, when another outbreak occurs, it will be ready. The state has released a few details regarding its plans for future outbreaks that would include creating “regional control rooms” that would monitor hospital capacities, rates of infection, how much PPE is available and how well businesses have been observing the state’s COVID-19 safety guidelines. Cuomo said on Tuesday, that if any problems arise the control rooms have “an emergency switch that we can throw.”

“If the hospital system exceeds 70% capacity or rate of transmission of the virus hits 1.1%, those are danger signs,” the governor said, noting that the state’s current rate of transmission is about .08%, meaning that for 10 people infected with the virus, an additional 8 will get it. (If the rate exceeds 1%, then the virus spreads to larger and larger numbers of people, as was the case before the shutdown of all nonessential businesses, schools and so on.)

Neither the city nor the state, however, responded to a request for comment regarding their preparedness for a second wave of infections.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.