SYRACUSE — As five regions statewide start to gear up for reopening, Gov. Andrew Cuomo again called for a careful process and continued monitoring.
“Phased reopening does not mean the problem has gone away,” he said during Thrusday’s update in Syracuse. “It means we have controlled the problem because of what we did and because of our individual responsibility and individual reactions.”
Once again, Cuomo stressed the importance of caution when it comes to reopening, and to follow the data, science and metrics, along with being ready to stop if the infection rate begins to increase again. He said the big responsibilities will now fall to local government to monitor the situation, and giving them advice in the daily monitoring of numbers should be the first three priorities. He also said to make sure businesses and individuals are complying with the restrictions.
He said people need to inform themselves but still advises caution, noting initial beliefs about COVID-19 — such as those who had the virus gained immunity, or children weren’t affected — may not be true.
Asked about reopening churches, he said the issue is less about being a church, temple or mosque, but more that it involves a gathering.
“Large gatherings are where this first started,” he said. “We had the first ... big cluster in New Rochelle in Westchester ... It was because one infected person went to a couple of events around a religious ceremony. The last thing you want is 100 or 200 people in close proximity. That is the last thing you want. That is why schools are such a challenge.”
He declined to say whether schools would open in September, saying the decisions would be made when needed. He said it would be decided at the last minute, based on the information available.
Cuomo and officials also discussed a COVID-19 outbreak which stemmed from an agricultural facility in Madison County near Syracuse — a rural area.
Reopening needs to be done properly, said staffer Melissa DeRosa, which includes making sure everybody’s wearing masks, and gloves, if possible.
“It’s too easy for people in rural communities to say, ‘This is not our problem. This is a urban problem,’” Cuomo said. “You open a plant, you open a business, you go to a gathering, you have one person infected ... they can infect dozens in one afternoon. I don’t care if you’re a rural community, urban community, suburban community. Nobody is immune.”
In other matters, the U.S. House of Representatives have proposed what Cuomo called a good bill to help provide coronavirus relief.
The bill has state and local aid, testing funding and repeals SALT to help the states most affected by COVID. Cuomo said the SALT bill increased federal taxes on New Yorkers by $12 to $15 billion.
On Wednesday, in a bipartisan call from the National Governor’s Association, the governors called on Congress to pass $500 billion in state fiscal relief.
Total hospitalizations across the state continue to go down, while the number of new cases have plateaued. On Wednesday there were 157 lives lost — 121 in hospitals and 36 in nursing homes.