New York City, hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, is still weeks away from a phased reopening by the first half of June, Mayor Bill de Blasio has said, as authorities are trying to meet all the seven health-related measures necessary for such a step.
New York City, the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic in the US, has 191,073 coronavirus cases and 15,983 confirmed Covid-19 deaths, which are deaths following positive Covid-19 laboratory tests.
"There's no way we're getting to the City and State indicators before June at this rate. So, June is the first opportunity, the first half of June is the first opportunity to relax anything," de Blasio said Monday at a press briefing.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that regions across the state will have to meet seven criteria before they will be allowed to gradually re-open businesses and institutions.
The seven metrics that will define whether a region can re-open businesses are decline in total hospitalisations, decline in deaths measured by the three-day rolling average of daily new hospital deaths not exceeding 5, fewer than two new hospitalisations per 100,000 residents, hospital bed capacity regions must have at least 30 per cent of their total hospital beds available before a phased re-opening, availability of 30 percent of ICU beds in a region, diagnostic testing capacity and contact tracing capacity.
Another 4,823 are probable deaths, where the cause is reported as "Covid-19" or equivalent, but no positive laboratory test.
Blasio said the city has made progress in some criteria but in the requirements for number of available hospital beds and number of ICU beds "we need to go farther, but we're getting close to those goals. And I think there's a point in the first half of June when we'll meet those."
He emphasised that the city will evaluate very carefully regarding if and when it is ready to open up.
"We've got to then make decisions on exactly which restrictions to loosen up, exactly how, and we have to be confident that when we're doing it, we can hold the line. We do not want to reduce restrictions and suddenly see an upsurge that puts us right back in a situation where we have to close down. So there's a real subtle balance that needs to be struck.
"But if the question is do we believe we'll meet all seven state indicators? Yes. When? First half of June," he said.
New York state's six regions - Central New York, the North Country, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Western New York and Mohawk Valley Regions - have met all seven metrics required to begin phase one of the state's regional phased reopening plan.
These regions have begun opening businesses over the weekend for phase one, which includes construction; manufacturing and wholesale supply chain; retail for curbside pickup and drop-off or in-store pickup; and agriculture, forestry and fishing.
The total number of coronavirus cases in New York State stands at 351,371 with over 28,000 deaths.