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North Country cleared to slowly reopen May 15

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Julia Ritchey
/
NCPR
Gov. Cuomo speaks Wednesday at Jefferson Community College in Watertown

NEW YORK (AP) — A fourth region of upstate New York has met the criteria to gradually restart its economic activity as the state prepares to slowly relax its pandemic-induced social restrictions, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.

The North Country met all seven benchmarks the state requires before selected businesses can be approved for reopening, according to the administration.

New York’s Southern Tier, the Mohawk Valley and the Finger Lakes previously met the standards, and regions are preparing to reopen in phases as early as Friday.

New York’s 10 regions can start reopening once they demonstrate that COVID-19-related deaths and hospitalizations are down; that there are enough hospital beds to meet any new surge in cases; and that there is sufficient local testing and contact-tracing efforts.

Central New York was still listed as having met six of the seven metrics. The state says the region has not done enough diagnostic testing. The region needs 775 tests conducted each day to meet the metric. Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said Tuesday the region conducted more than 1,000 tests Monday and expected to conduct 2,000-4,000 tests Tuesday.

The economic reopenings will proceed in phases, starting with construction, manufacturing, retail with curbside pickup, agriculture, forestry and fishing.

Most other states have begun phasing in reopening activities. But Cuomo opted to go slower, starting with upstate areas outside the hard-hit New York City region.

New York state recorded 166 new deaths Tuesday, bringing the total since March to more than 22,000. The state tally does not include the more than 5,100 deaths in New York City that were attributed to the virus on death certificates but weren’t confirmed by a lab test.

Though hospitalizations are down, New York still averages more than 400 COVID-19 admissions a day.