Hospitals must not exceed 70% capacity. The virus transmission rate must not exceed 1.0%. There must be a 14-day decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

These are just a few of the guidelines set forth Tuesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to take the first steps to the reopening of New York state.

No businesses or attractions can open that would draw hundreds of people to a region. Rightly, businesses have been handed the responsibility of coming up with new protocols to maintain social distancing and reduce density before reopening. Regions must develop a program and tracing system to prioritize testing symptomatic people and essential workers.

Each region must plan to make rooms available or provide other isolation facilities for people who test positive for COVID-19 and cannot self-isolate at home. Regions must monitor hospital capacity, infection rate and personal protective equipment usage before reopening.

Regions must coordinate reopening of schools, transportation systems, testing and tracing with surrounding regions. The state could announce a decision on reopening New York’s 700 public school districts, and the possibility of summer classes, by the end of the week.

Former Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, who is president of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, was appointed to oversee re-opening developments for the Finger Lakes region, including the four-county GLOW Region of Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming counties. Current Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will lead a similar effort in Western New York.

“If I were to offer suggestions to any business, any enterprise which is deemed non-essential and is not working right now, I would work on having a plan in place when that decision day comes, be it two weeks, four weeks, six weeks,” Duffy said this week at a virtual press conference.

Duffy says he can not speak to a potential reopening date and upon his appointment last week said any reopening “has to be balanced with the public health issue.”

“We do not want to raise the infection rate. We do not want to lose any more lives,” Duffy said.

Employee and customer safety — and how they’re enacted — are paramount, he said.

Allowing the advice of public health experts and experienced business leaders on the New York Forward Re-Opening Advisory Board to guide the state’s reopening strategy is an intelligent and disciplined approach that will bring us back to a semblance of normalcy.

It’s important to remember that we can’t get complacent about staying home, wearing face masks and social distancing as the state gradually moves to reopen.

People are emotional, but we have to be smart about the comeback trail we are taking. Emotions can’t drive a reopening process, but they can derail it before it even starts. We have to separate the emotion from the rationality.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1