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Long Island on Track for a Wednesday Phase One Opening

Sat, 05/23/2020 - 15:37
On Saturday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo gave his press briefing "from home" in a room of the New York State Executive Mansion in Albany.

On Saturday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced Long Island will likely begin phase one of reopening the economy on Wednesday as long as current trends continue in the slowdown of Covid-19.

"The progress is continuing. . . . That is great news," Mr. Bellone said. "People are ready to hit that phase one, get back, and do this safely."

The number of deaths on Long Island is dropping, Governor Cuomo said. "We also have to get the tracing online, but at this rate we could open by Wednesday if the number of deaths continues to decline and we get that tracing up."  

Hospital capacity is at 67 percent, below the 70 percent limit on occupancy, and intensive care unit capacity is at 62 percent, well below the threshold. The remaining criteria to be met are the 14-day decline in hospital deaths or a rolling average of five or fewer, and the contact tracing component. It is unclear how many new tracers have been hired since the first 230 were in place. "We will have over 1,000 trained by Wednesday, when we need to meet this metric," Mr. Bellone said. "Tracing will not prevent us from reopening."

Late Friday, Governor Cuomo signed an executive order allowing small, general gatherings to resume immediately — up to 10 people — in addition to the religious gatherings and Memorial Day ceremonies that he previously permitted.

Mr. Bellone's official count of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Suffolk County was 38,802, not including tests positive for antibodies. There is a discrepancy between the public case map and his confirmed numbers, he acknowledged Saturday.

There are now 1,822 Covid-19 deaths.

Mr. Bellone also acknowledged there are more people coming into the county as renters and that it has the potential to alter the numbers. He said people must continue to practice social distancing and wear masks in public when they cannot stay at least six feet away from others.

"It is people not following that guidance . . . that will ultimately set us back in the progress we're making," he said.

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