Gov. Andrew Cuomo released this chart on Friday, May 22, 2020.

Long Island may reach the benchmarks for phase one of reopening from the coronavirus shutdown as early as next week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.

Nassau and Suffolk counties as a region have reached five of the seven state and federal criteria required to reopen and are expected to hit the sixth metric, hiring enough contact tracers to investigate new infections, but the death rate is the final hurdle to clear. But now LI and the Mid-Hudson Valley appear poised to reopen.

“If deaths continue to decrease and tracing is online, both regions could reopen next week,” the governor told reporters during his daily coronavirus news briefing.

If that were the case, the last region statewide to reopen would be New York City, as most of upstate New York has already reached phase one. 

The first phase of reopening will be construction, manufacturing, agriculture, and retailers using curbside pickup. Phase two will be professional services, finance, retail, administrative support, and real estate. The third phase includes restaurants and hotels. The fourth and final phase includes education, recreation, and arts and entertainment.

When the metrics were revealed, LI initially ranked last out of the 10 regions statewide in meeting the goals to reopen. It then made progress, but in recent days has gone back and forth on whether it was maintaining 30 percent of hospital beds open for a potential spike in cases. As of Friday, the remaining metric to meet was a 14-day decline in hospitalized coronavirus deaths or under five new deaths on a three-day rolling average.

The state reports that the region is expected to meet the criteria of having 30 contact tracers — disease detectives tasked with investigating the transmission of cases — per 100,000 residents.

If the governor’s prediction comes true, LI will be faring better than Nassau County Executive Laura Curran’s recent rough estimate that LI is reopening “probably by the end of June.”

Related Story: Long Island Making Progress In Meeting NY Criteria To Reopen From Coronavirus Shutdown

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Timothy Bolger is the Editor in Chief of the Long Island Press who’s been working to uncover unreported stories since shortly after it launched in 2003. When he’s not editing, getting hassled by The Man or fielding cold calls to the newsroom, he covers crime, general interest and political news in addition to reporting longer, sometimes investigative features. He won’t be happy until everyone is as pissed off as he is about how screwed up Lawn Guyland is.