by Dave Leremy
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday morning that he feels “the worst is over” when it comes to the ongoing coronavirus crisis that has enveloped his state and the nation, and he suggested that a coalition of six Northeast states would be making a joint announcement at 2 p.m. on plans to reopen the economy in the weeks and months to come.
Speaking at his daily briefing on the pandemic, Cuomo said he had been in contact with the governors of Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Rhode Island about a regional approach to returning to normalcy.
“Can we work together on a reopening plan?” was the topic of those conversations, he said. Residents should expect an “announcement this afternoon with the other governors about a reopening plan.”
Cuomo laid out what he sees as the essential steps for restarting normal life in much more detail than he has up until now. He described a gradual rather than sudden reopening, with certain types of activities being added to the current list of essential services.
The governor said such actions would be taken with a careful eye toward any signs that the virus is experiencing a resurgence.
“While you’re opening that [economic activity] valve, watch the meter,” he said. “What’s the meter? The meter is the infection rate. … If you see that infection rate start ticking up, which would be undermining everything we’ve accomplished so far, then you know you’ve opened up too fast.”
Meanwhile, the number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 in New York remained steady, as it has for more than a week now, and the number of reported daily deaths dropped below 700 for the first time in a week, coming in at 671. That latest number brought the state’s overall death toll during the crisis to 10,056.
Once again addressing why New York has been the epicenter of the nation’s crisis, he said population density was the most meaningful answer.
“It’s about the number of people in a small geographic location allowing that virus to spread, and that virus is very good at what it does,” he said. “It is a killer … The dense environments are its feeding grounds.”
He insisted that a wide geographic approach to reopening the economy, along with expanded testing, was the only hope for success in avoiding a devastating second wave of infections.
“The wider the geographic area for that plan, the better, because this virus doesn’t understand governmental boundaries,” he said. “The virus follows its own boundaries and its own guidelines, and it doesn’t have any.”
When asked if his comments about the worst of the crisis being over might prompt New York residents to take social distancing and self-isolation measures less seriously, Cuomo said it was up to New Yorkers to make sure that the worst is over.
“I’m not confident that the worst is over,” he said. “I said if you look at the numbers … the numbers suggest a plateauing … that’s what the numbers say. I also say, whatever those numbers say is a direct result of what we do. I said if we do something stupid, you will see those numbers go right back up tomorrow. Period.
“The worst can be over, and it is over, unless we do something reckless,” he added. “And you can turn those numbers in two or three days of reckless behavior.”
Watch the full press briefing:
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Dave Lemery is the Regional Editor at The Center Square. He was the editor of Suburban Life Media when its flagship newspaper was named best weekly in Illinois, and he has worked at papers in South Carolina, Indiana, Idaho and New York.