New York will open a sixth region on Tuesday and urge major sports franchises to resume playing without fans, as the state continues a slow recovery from the new coronavirus.
Western New York, which includes Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties, will have all the contact tracers needed, the last of seven metrics required to restart its economy, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday at a press briefing.Erie County Medical Center also will be allowed to resume elective surgeries.
In New York, the state hardest hit by the outbreak, the numbers of new hospitalizations and intubations continue to decline, Cuomo said. There were 106 deaths on May 17, the lowest one-day toll in at least seven weeks. In April, fatalities peaked at 799. The state added 1,250 cases on May 17, its fewest since mid-March, for a total of 351,371.
“We hit the apex and we’re on the way down,” the governor said. “We also see how slow the way down is.”
Sports teams will need to determine if they can make the economics work for games without fans, the governor said, adding that some sports rely more on income from television than stadium attendance.
“Why wait until you can fill a stadium to bring a team back,” Cuomo said. “If they can make the numbers work, I say great, come back, the state will work with you.”
Four of 10 New York regions remain on lockdown, with New York City meeting the fewest metrics, three, which are based on U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance and include requirements for hospitalizations, testing and tracing. Mayor Bill de Blasio said earlier Monday that he doesn’t expect the city to begin reopening until mid-June.
The Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country and Southern Tier regions have alreadybegun to reopen. Judges and staff will be returning to courthouses in 30 upstate communities this week, the governor said.
“These decisions are being made as a matter of math,” Cuomo said. “It’s numbers. It’s math. That’s all it is at the end of the day.”
The state has put together a group of medical experts, including infectious disease epidemiologists Michael Osterholm from theUniversity of Minnesota and Samir Bhatt fromImperial College London, to advise New York on its progress in fighting the virus and to monitor the data as the state reopens, Cuomo said.
“I want to make sure what we’re doing is the best informed approach,” he said.
Cuomo said the state will send nursing homes 320,000 test kits today, following a mandate put in place last week that requires staff be tested for Covid-19 twice a week. If there’s an increase among staff, it’s “an alert that you probably have a real problem in that nursing home,” he said.
“The one thing we need to be able to say at the end of this is we did everything we could,” Cuomo said.
— With assistance by Henry Goldman
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