Starting on May 15, some regions of New York will be able to begin the first phase of reopening their economies after nearly 2 months of being on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the Hudson Valley is not one of them.
Dutchess, Orange, Ulster, and Sullivan counties are more than two weeks away from reopening their economies, according to Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus. That is because the region has met five of the seven metrics needed to reopen.
"We have a daily call with now the governor's office, which is now going to help us answer a ton of questions," said Neuhaus.
“Every day, we evaluate where we are against those benchmarks, and again, the ones that that we're still struggling to meet have more to do with who's in the hospital, and sadly, who may come to COVID,” said Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro.
Officials said the region's hospitalization and death rates are still too high to begin the first phase of reopening, but they are all working together to get the area on track.
“So one of the things right now is if we start testing the nursing homes, which is a great idea," said Neuhaus. "The more people you can test, the more data you can get, and more you can identify hotspots and try to try to mitigate any of the impacts in them."
"Because these are averages over the last 14 days in most cases, that will continue to encourage the kind of social distancing, and the consideration that we have for one another," Molinaro said.
The local leaders are also trying to find ways to get Governor Andrew Cuomo to allow certain industries like retail, construction, and manufacturing to open as long as they take the necessary precautions to help prevent the spread of the virus.
"We have construction projects, big and small," Neuhaus said. "Whether it be homes or big projects like Lego in a nice kitchen, Amazon, every day that goes by that they don't get back to work is another day that their corporate headquarters can contemplate not opening at all.”
So is there a contingency plan for if there is another spike in cases or hospitalizations?
"If we do open like those phases and there is a spike-up, we also have the bit of availability that we can pull these things back and get back into a lockdown again," said Neuhaus.
But reopening of the region will only be possible if residents continue to follow the directions of health officials and continue to wear masks, wash their hands, and maintain a social distance of 6 feet.
"The goal here is to limit the severity, and ultimately protect lives so that people can go back to living their lives," Molinaro said.