Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday the state will take a regional approach to reopening and will make decisions on which counties to open, and when they can open, based data specific to that area.
While there are cases of COVID-19 in every New York county, it has been primarily concentrated downstate, with 64 percent of the cases in New York City and 21 percent on Long Island. A drastic spread of the virus up the Hudson Valley, the North Country, the Southern Tier and Central and Western New York has not yet occurred.
“The virus presents a slightly different problem in different parts of the country,” Cuomo said. “It also presents a different problem in different parts of the state.”
Before heading to Washington D.C. to meet with President Trump on Tuesday, Cuomo was at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo to discuss the state’s tentative reopening plans and to announce that some hospitals will begin scheduling elective surgeries next week if there is no immediate threat of a COVID-19 surge.
“We operate as one state but we also have to understand variations and you do want to get this economy open as soon as possible and if a situation is radically different in one part of the state than another part of the state take that into consideration,” Cuomo said. “There are regional economies within the state, and we’ve been working with each individual regional economy, we’ll do the same thing on this phase. Let’s talk about reopening economies in that regional context and coordinate it regionally. That’s what we’re going to be doing.”
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul former Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy will be coordinating the re-opening process in the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions, respectively.
To help slow “cluster outbreaks” that can pop up anywhere, like they did in New Rochelle in March, Cuomo said officials will continue to practice the “surge and flex” program can transport equipment and personnel quickly to areas where they are most needed. This system has already been used between upstate and downstate hospital systems to share staff, equipment and beds.
“We are one state, we are one family, we are one community, and we are there to help one another,” Cuomo said.
To get the data needed to determine where the rate of infections is going across the state, Cuomo continued to ask the federal government for state testing aid to manage the disrupted testing manufacturing supply chain.
Each state is in charge with administering their own testing. While Cuomo agrees that he should be responsible for distributing tests throughout the state he said federal assistance is needed in accessing the tests from private manufacturers.
The private manufacturers who sell laboratory equipment to state facilities that run the tests for hospitals and the public each require specific testing chemicals, or reagents, that are needed to successfully run tests. The international supply chain of these companies has limited their ability to meet increased global demands for testing kits.
“When you go to the manufacturers and say I need you to increase capacity, many of the manufacturers are saying ‘I can’t,’” said Cuomo. “That’s the determiner of testing capacity.”
Cuomo will attend a meeting at the White House today at 3 p.m., to further discuss testing correspondence between the federal government and the states.