ALBANY, N.Y. - During his Sunday afternoon press briefing on COVID-19, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced 367 more people died in New York State due to coronavirus on Saturday.
The total number of deaths in the state now stands at 16,966.
Cuomo says the 367 deaths number is down from 437 on Friday. Thursday's toll was 422. There were 438 on Wednesday, 474 on Tuesday and 481 on Monday.
Cuomo says the numbers continue to decline and he is now talking about reopening businesses, but doing so in a two phase plan.
Phase I would involve construction and manufacturing activities, and within construction and manufacturing, those businesses that have a low risk would open first, "There’s a range of construction activities, there’s a range of manufacturing activities, but those businesses that pose a low risk with them."
Cuomo says the earliest Phase I can begin is May 15th.
Phase II would involve other businesses, but the Governor didn't give too many details on what will take place, only to say Phase II will be on a more business my business analysis, "Using the metrics that we have discussed, how essential does a service provide and how risky is that business. If you were to open that business, how much risk are you possibly incurring and how important is it that that business re-open, and that matrix will be guiding us through phase II. In phase II, when we get there, we need businesses to do that analysis. They have to think about how they’re going to reopen with this "new normal", what precautions are they going to take in the workplace, what safeguards are they going to put into place, so it’s very much up to businesses. Then we’re going to leave two weeks between phases so that we can monitor the effect of what we just did."
Cuomo says a team of individuals he has put together is working with businesses across the state to come up with a plan to reopen and he says that team has been working with businesses for a couple of weeks now, "We need them to be creative and think outside of the box and we have been talking to business leaders across the state."
The Governor says there are three criteria that will be analyzed for Phase 1 to begin and once Phase 1 begins, that same criteria will be looked at before Phase II can begin.
The three criteria are 14 straight days in the reduction of hospitalizations, plus an analysis of antibody testing and diagnostic testing on a regional basis. The Governor says both types of testing are about to be increased so we can get a better picture of what the infections rate is, "Monitoring the number of hospitalizations, the number of positive antibody tests, the number of positive diagnostic tests, you take these activities and you watch those three dials. You open phase I, you watch those dials and then you watch the rate of transmission."
The number of consecutive days of decreasing hospitalizations needed is 14 because 14 days is the length of the incubation period of the coronavirus.
Cuomo says the the 'three dial' approach will give the best look at how COVID-19 is at any one time, including after opening some businesses, "Every hospital in the state on a day-to-day basis gives us their hospitalization rate, that is dial 1. Dial 2 is the antibody testing which we are now bringing up to scale in a large number state-wide and regionally. Antibody tells you how many people were infected within a two week lag, that’s the second dial. The third dial is diagnostic testing, state-wide and by region. Those three dials, they give you the rate of transmission which is how fast a virus is spreading. Without testing you only have one dial, you have a hospitalization dial. Antibody test and the diagnostic test give you a higher level of information by region."
Cuomo says because of the numbers, upstate will be able to open up first, "Downstate is going to be more complicated. Coordination has to be a coordinated effort with New York, New Jersey and Connecticut."
When asked about giving people a specific date of reopening, he responded, "Not really comfortable getting too far ahead of ourselves. Do you want to talk about a two week window, that’s an intelligent window to talk about."