Long Island could begin phase one of reopening from the coronavirus shutdown as early as Wednesday if the region continues on its current rate of progress, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.
The revelation was the most specific speculation to date of when exactly Nassau and Suffolk counties could start reopening for the first phase, which includes construction, manufacturing, agriculture, and retailers using curbside pickup.
“We could open by Wednesday if the number of deaths continue to decline and we get the [contact] tracing up,” the governor told reporters during his daily COVID-19 news briefing.
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.
The region has to have 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.
Once LI hits phase one, 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. Cuomo said it would be about two weeks between phases to make sure each phase doesn’t cause an overwhelming spike in cases.
LI is on the same trajectory as the Mid-Hudson Valley for reopening. Most of upstate has already hit phase one. New York City, the national epicenter of the crisis, is poised to be the last region to reopen.
In another sign of progress statewide, the governor also issued an executive order Friday allowing gatherings of up to 10 people.
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