During his visit to Watertown last week, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the north country had reached the appropriate benchmarks to begin reopening Friday.
Mr. Cuomo held his daily news briefing Wednesday at Jefferson Community College to discuss the latest information regarding the novel coronavirus. He previously laid out seven criteria that regions had to meet before they could loosen restrictions.
These metrics are: Decline in total hospitalizations, decline in deaths, new hospitalizations, hospital bed capacity, intensive care unit bed capacity, diagnostic testing capacity and contact tracing capacity.
The governor closed non-essential businesses and limited operations for firms deemed essential. The goal has been to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, which has caused numerous deaths of individuals who developed COVID-19.
This has hurt many people who lost their jobs and businesses that closed their doors either temporarily or permanently. State officials have worked with health care professionals and community leaders to find ways to safely lift restrictions.
“As the numbers continue to decline and we are coming down the other side of the mountain, a lot of attention is now on reopening,” Mr. Cuomo said at JCC, according to a story published Thursday by the Watertown Daily Times. “We’re doing something in this state that no other state is doing. We are having a transparent discussion about the reopening operations because it only works if people understand it and are part of it. New Yorkers will know exactly what is happening in their region and in their county on a daily basis, and the state will continue to monitor these metrics to determine when regions are ready to reopen and if we need to adjust the reopening plans.”
Phase I reopening means that restrictions can be lifted on construction, manufacturing and wholesale supply chain, retail for curbside pickup and drop-off or in-store pickup, and agriculture, forestry and fishing. Scott A. Gray, chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators, welcomed this announcement.
“This is excellent news today but comes with a reminder that we have other phases to go through, and we need to be mindful of that until we’re fully operational,” he was quoted as saying in the article. “It’s a victory for today with work to do tomorrow. We had an intense buildup to this, and we’re happy we’re open. But we proceed with caution, and it’s still important to continue the measures in place for social distancing and masks so we’re not held up moving into the next phases.”
Mr. Gray is correct that work needs to continue on minimizing the rate of infection. Doing so will allow the north country to move into the next phase.
It’s vital to recognize the enormous efforts made by many people to get our region to this stage. First and foremost, we want to express our deep gratitude to all the medical professionals who have been on the frontlines of this health care crisis. They’ve endured the worst of it and have made tremendous progress.
It’s also important to acknowledge the work done by government officials and municipal personnel, particularly those who staff county public health departments. They’ve labored tirelessly to track a condition we knew little about at the beginning of the year.
Residents and organizations throughout Northern New York have made huge contributions. They’ve provided food, money and necessary supplies to people in need. They’ve made masks for those who didn’t have any and found ways to lift people’s spirits.
We thank everyone who has helped get us through this crisis. There is much more work to do, but it’s good to see we’ve reached this point.