Cuomo Inches Toward N.Y. Reopening, Eases Up on Elective Surgery

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Tuesday took a small step toward reopening the state, allowing elective surgeries to take place in regions without large coronavirus outbreaks.

While hospitals downstate and in New York City in particular still are overcapacity, some upstate are laying off staff due to lack of need, Cuomo said at a Tuesday briefing in Buffalo.

The move comes as hospitalizations for Covid-19 hold steady, and fatalities were below 500 for a second day in a row. New York added 4,178 cases, the smallest number since March. Cuomo said the state will analyze the data to decide when it will fully reopen, including examining the rate of hospitalizations and the number of new infections.

Reopening parts of the state at different times goes against Cuomo’s previous calls to open as a region. Cuomo, along with an alliance of Northeastern governors, last week created a task force to focus on a multistate reopening. Cuomo had said that if New Jersey or Connecticut reopen beaches and businesses before New York, New Yorkers would just go across state lines, defeating the purpose of the state shutdown.

“Different regions of the country have different curves,” Cuomo said. “The virus does not hit at the same time at the same rate. It’s also different across the state.”

Cuomo on March 25 canceled all noncritical surgeries to build hospital capacity as the state approached the apex of the pandemic. Hospitals in Erie, Dutchess, Albany, and areas south of Westchester and Rockland, as well as several other counties, must continue to ban elective surgeries for the time being, he said.

Statewide, more than 251,000 people have tested positive and nearly 15,000 have died, including 481 on Monday. Cuomo said declines in new cases and hospitalizations are “good news, relative to really bad news that was happening up until then,” he said.

“Our definition of good has changed here,” he said. “Good is now ‘not terrible.’”

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