IRONDEQUOIT, N.Y. (WROC) — Bringing his daily COVID-19 briefing back to the Rochester region, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday “we start a new chapter,” in our state’s battle against the virus.

Speaking from the Rochester Regional Health Riedman Campus Wellness Center in Irondequoit, the governor said NY PAUSE, the state-mandated shutdown, expires Friday, and that reopening focus now shifts to localities and regions.

According to the governor’s office, the Rochester/Finger Lakes region has met all seven criteria standards in order to begin phase one of reopening.

“It’s an exciting new phase, we’re all anxious to get back to work, we want to do it smartly we want do it intelligently, but we want to do it,” Gov. Cuomo said.

The governor says each reopening phase lasts 14 days and each region will be re-evaluated every two weeks.

“If it does not go well and you see that infection rate moving because the hospitals tell you they see an increase or because the testing data shows an increase, you have to be able to pull the plug or slow down the increased activity and that’s what we call a circuit breaker,” Gov. Cuomo said.

According to the governor’s office, the phases of reopening are as follows:

  • Phase one — Construction, manufacturing and wholesale supply chain, retail (with curbside pickup), agriculture, forestry, and fishing.
  • Phase two — Professional services, finances and insurance, retail, administrative support, real estate/rental leasing
  • Phase three — Restaurants/food services, and hotels/accommodations
  • Phase four — Arts/entertainment/recreation, and education

The governor reiterated that reopening is based on regions, and will not be a county-by-county basis.

“We have to have a system in place, regionally, to monitor the infection rate with the hospitals,” Cuomo said. “That connection has to be very close, they have to know on a day-to-day basis, if not an hour-to-hour basis, how many people are walking in the hospitals.”

The governor says the statewide data is encouraging, pointing to total hospitalizations, new cases, and death toll at their lowest points since the pandemic was brought to New York in early March.

“May 10, we’re right about where we were on March 19 before we went into the abyss of the COVID virus,” Gov. Cuomo said. “And when you see the number of lives lost, we’re right about where we started before we really went into the heart of this crisis and that’s what it’s been.  It’s been a crisis and a painful one but were coming out on the other side.”

The governor did announce that 161 New Yorkers died from COVID-19 since Sunday’s update. That was the lowest daily total since early March. The state’s virus death toll exceeds 21,000 to date. Still, the governor said he admired all New Yorkers’ efforts during this crisis so far.

“We changed the trajectory dramatically, but what we did and that was smart, but we have to stay smart and we have to stay united,” Gov. Cuomo said. “You look at what we’ve done, New York the cases are now on the decline. You look at the rest of the nation outside of New York, the cases are still on the incline. We took the worst situation in the nation and changed the trajectory so now we’re on the decline.”

The governor says what happens next is up to us collectively as a state.

“‘Trust the people and an informed public will keep this public safe,’ Lincoln said, and that’s exactly what happened here,” Gov. Cuomo said. ‘And that’s what we’re going to continue to do, people need to be apart of this. Nobody is going to mandate personal behavior. People have to wear a mask people have to be smart when they show up at work, people have to be smart when they shop, people have to understand this is not the flood gates opening. No one is going to protect your health but you.”

MORE | COVID-19 county by county: Keeping track of local cases throughout the region

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