New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that reopening the state will be harder than locking it down, warning of a COVID-19 rebound if restrictions are lifted too fast or outside of a smart process.
In a tweet on Monday, Cuomo said, “Reopening our state is far more complicated than shutting down was. If you open too quickly you can immediately have a backlash.”
Citing the experience of some other countries that lifted restrictions only to see a resurgence, he said, “We must be smart.”
On Monday, at his daily briefing on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, the coronavirus that emerged in China and causes COVID-19, Cuomo outlined a four-phase plan for reopening.
Phase one would open construction, manufacturing, parts of the supply chain that deal in wholesale, and select retail with curbside pickup.
“They are the most essential, with the lowest risk,” he said.
The second phase would reactivate professional services, including finance and insurance, retail, administrative support, and real estate.
Phase three would let food services and accommodations—restaurants and hotels—come back on line.
And arts and entertainment would reboot in phase four, as would recreation and education.
Regions would be graded on a resurgence risk scale, with more loosely populated parts of the state designated lower-risk, while crowded places like New York City rated “higher-risk.”
“Reopening is more difficult than the close-down. The close-down was relatively simple,” he said at the briefing.
New York’s state’s stay-at-home order, in place since mid-March, is due to expire on May 15. Cuomo said previously that some regions outside the New York City area with a relatively low number of cases could start lifting restrictions after that date.
He did not specify which regions would open first, but at his briefing showed a slide with the more rural northern and central parts of the state labeled as “lower-risk regions,” in contrast to the “higher-risk regions,” which include densely populated New York City.
“Density is not your friend here, large gatherings are not your friend,” said Cuomo. “That’s where the virus tends to spread. That’s why those situations would be down at the end.”
Cuomo later shared on Twitter a chart with a regional breakdown and wrote, “Some regions of New York are closer to reopening than others. Currently, no region meets all the requirements necessary to reopen safely and securely.”
“There is a lot of work to do,” he added.
Some regions of New York are closer to reopening than others.
Currently, no region meets all the requirements necessary to reopen safely and securely.
There is a lot of work to do. pic.twitter.com/OWaKHUeUUa
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) May 4, 2020
Cuomo’s remarks come a day after President Donald Trump delivered a message at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial that sought to navigate the delicate balance between protecting Americans from the CCP virus and allowing them to continue making a living.
“Certain states are going to have to take a little more time in getting open, and they’re doing that,” Trump told a virtual town hall hosted by Fox News on Sunday.
But while Trump said it is normal for some states to ease restrictions more slowly than others, he believes some are moving too slowly.
“Some states, I think, frankly, aren’t going fast enough,” he added, before singling out Virginia Governor Ralph Northam for extending his stay-at-home order to mid-June.
“You have some states that, Virginia, they want to close down until the middle of June,” Trump said. “I really believe that you can go to parks, you can go to beaches … And I really think the public has been incredible. That’s one of the reasons we are successful.”
Acknowledging valid fears on both sides of the issue, with some people worried about getting sick or dying while others devastated by lost jobs or bankrupt businesses, Trump said, “We have to get it back open safely but as quickly as possible.”