BROOKLYN, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave an update regarding the coronavirus pandemic in New York state Thursday from Brooklyn, where the governor announced 74 New Yorkers died from COVID-19 Wednesday.
“We want to get this number down as low as possible and we’re doing everything that we can to do that,” Gov. Cuomo said.
To date, the virus has claimed the lives of more than 23,000 New Yorkers.
The governor made no mention on the status of phase two reopening for upstate regions during Thursday’s briefing. Gov. Cuomo did announce that he will sign an executive order to allow businesses the right to deny entrance to customers who aren’t wearing masks or face coverings.
“When we’re talking about reopening store and places of businesses, we’re giving the store owners the right to say ‘if you’re not wearing a mask, you can’t come in,'” Gov. Cuomo said. “That store owner has a right to protect themselves, that store owner has a right to protect others in the store.”
The governor said the reason is simple — masks work.
“They are deceptively effective,” Gov. Cuomo said. “They are amazingly effective and we’ve made them mandatory in public settings, public transportation, etc.”
To endorse the idea of wearing masks in public and increase testing to New Yorkers, the governor was joined by a pair of famous NYC entertainers, comedian Chris Rock and actress Rosie Perez.
“I got tested before I came out here. I got a 65,” Rock joked. “People need to get tested.”
The governor was expected to announce which regions could be eligible to begin phase two of reopening under the state’s guidelines, but he made no mention of that during the first portion of the daily briefing.
The Rochester and Finger Lakes region hit the initial benchmarks and began phase one on May 15. Under the state’s reopening plan, each region would be evaluated every two weeks to see if criteria was met to advance phases.
By that schedule, the Rochester and Finger Lakes region could potentially begin phase two as soon as Friday, but nothing was mentioned during Thursday’s briefing about any of the upstate regions being able to enter phase two, with little guidance on what that phase would consist of beyond the ambiguous details provided by the state’s guidelines.
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 says the next step is not just reopening, but reinvigorating.
“Where’s the plan to say ‘yes we went through hell, but heaven is on the other side and we’re going to rally and be better for this,'” Gov. Cuomo said. “We’re not just going to return to where we were, we’re going to be better than ever before.”
The governor said that financial relief from Washington has been disproportionate and unfair to New York. He said that Alaska, for example, got more than $3 million per positive COVID-19 case while New York only received approximately $24,000 per case.
While in Washington on Wednesday, the governor said federal legislators need to put partisan politics aside to help the country. He echoed many of those sentiments Thursday and reiterated that states most impacted by the pandemic need more federal assistance.
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.