On Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that three upstate areas of his state will be allowed to start reopening on Friday: the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley regions. Cuomo called the step the “next big step in this historic journey,” adding, “In my point of view, we’re on the other side of the mountain. We have abated the worst by what we’ve done, and now we can intelligently turn toward reopening … It’s an exciting new phase. We’re all anxious to get back to work. We want to do it smartly. We want to do it intelligently.”
The requirements for an area to reopen include the number of coronavirus deaths and new cases dropping for two weeks. Having met the requirements in those three regions, construction, manufacturing and wholesale supply chain businesses will be permitted to reopen, according to The Hill. All businesses reopening must screen their employees, some of whom must be masked, observe social distancing guidelines, alter their hours of operation to ensure that too many people are present concurrently and observe tough cleaning and sanitation guidelines.
Cuomo acknowledged that New York state has witnessed a decline in new coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, intubations and deaths, but cautioned that after two weeks an evaluation will be made to determine if phase two of his plan can be implemented. If the first phase has proven successful, other businesses such as professional services, finance and insurance, retail, administrative support and real estate and rental leasing would be permitted to reopen.
Over the weekend, Cuomo finally reversed a state order that had required nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to take COVID-19 positive patients. Nearly 5,400 nursing home residents and residents of adult care facilities have reportedly died from coronavirus in New York.
In late April, at a briefing to give an update on the response of his state government to the coronavirus crisis, a reporter said to Cuomo:
I don’t know if you can hear, but there are protesters outside right now honking their horns and raising signs; we did speak to a few of them before we came in, and these are regular people who are not getting a paycheck; some of them are not getting their unemployment check, and they’re saying that they don’t have time to wait for all of this testing and they need to get back to work in order to feed their families; their savings is running out; they don’t have another week; they’re not getting answers. So their point is the cure can’t be worse than the illness itself. What is your response to them?
Cuomo responded, “The illness is death. What is worse than death?”
Reporter: But what if somebody commits suicide because they can’t pay their bills?
Cuomo: Yeah, but the illnesses may be my death as opposed to your death. You said they said the cure is worse than the illness. The illness is death. How can the cure be worse than the illness if the illness is potential death?
Reporter: What if the economy failing —
Cuomo: Worse than death?
Reporter: — equals death, because mental illness, the people stuck at home—
Cuomo: No, it doesn’t. No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t equal death. Economic hardship: yes. Very bad. Not death. Emotional stress from being locked in a house. Very bad. Not death. Domestic violence on the increase. Very bad. Not death. And, not death of someone else. See, that’s what we have to factor into this equation. Yeah, it’s your life; do whatever you want, but — you’re now responsible for my life. You have a responsibility to me. It’s not just about you. You have a responsibility to me, right? We started here saying, it’s not about “me”; it’s about “we.” Get your head around the “we” concept. So it’s not all about you; it’s about me, too. It’s about “we.”
Later the reporter asked, “So you’re saying that — is there a fundamental right to work if the government can’t get me the money when I need it? Is there a fundamental right to work?”
Cuomo snapped, “By the way, you want to go to work? Go take a job as an essential worker. Do it tomorrow.”
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