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Long Island, Mid-Hudson regions could begin reopening next week


Communities on Long Island and the Mid-Hudson region of New York could begin the first phase of reopening their economies as early as next week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday, which would leave New York City as the lone region still on full lockdown.

“If the number of deaths continues to decline, they get their tracing up and online, both regions could reopen this week,” Cuomo said.

Communities on Long Island could start the first phase as early as Wednesday, according to the state’s dashboard that tracks the region’s progress.

To start the first phase of reopening, regions are required to report either a 14-day decline in deaths related to COVID-19 or fewer than five deaths over a three-day rolling average. That’s one of seven metrics the state uses to track progress in each region.

Long Island has seen nine straight days of declining deaths due to COVID-19, according to the state. If the trend continues, the region will be able to start reopening in five days, on Wednesday.

The Mid-Hudson region, which stretches from Ulster County down to Westchester County, has reported seven days of decline in COVID-19 deaths, which would land its reopening at the end of next week.

Both regions will also have to increase the number of available contact tracers, which are employed to tell people they may have come in contact with someone who’s tested positive for COVID-19. Both are expected to do so, according to the state.

They’ll join seven of the state’s other regions, all of which entered the first phase of reopening at different times in the last week. New York is split into 10 different regions.

That means New York City, after next week, may be the only region that hasn’t qualified to enter the first phase of reopening. The city, which was hardest hit by the disease, doesn’t have enough contact tracers and open hospital beds, according to the state.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said in the past week that he expects the five boroughs to enter the first phase of reopening sometime in early to mid June.

“We’re seeing these numbers at a point that seems to be pretty consistent … We want to move forward,” de Blasio said. “We want to get to that first phase of restart.”

The first phase of reopening allows regions to green-light construction, manufacturing, and retail curbside pickup, among a select few other industries with limited contact. That includes things like wholesale trade and forestry workers.

Three regions of the state, meanwhile, could start the second phase of reopening by next weekend if all goes as planned.

The Mohawk Valley, Southern Tier, and Finger Lakes regions were all allowed to start the first phase of reopening last weekend. Cuomo’s plan suggests two weeks between each phase to review how the changes have affected the prevalence of COVID-19 in each region.

That means that, if hospitalizations don’t see a major increase in those regions, they’ll be allowed to start the second phase of reopening by the end of May.

Statewide, the data continued to trend downward Friday, Cuomo said. The total number of hospitalizations dipped below 5,000 for the first time Thursday, the latest data available from the state. The total number of hospitalizations is now 4,844.

An additional 109 people died from COVID-19 in New York Thursday, bringing the statewide total of confirmed deaths to 23,192. Thousands more are presumed to be from the disease, but aren’t included in the state’s count.