ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo offered some of his strongest hints to date that he will allow parts of the upstate economy to re-open when the current “pause” on the economy expires this coming Friday.
With hospital admissions for COVID-19 and also deaths from the respiratory illness down, the governor also for the first time expressed confidence that “we are finally ahead of the virus. We have shown we can control the beast,” he said while giving his daily coronavirus briefing at Marist College in Poughkeepsie.
The economic “pause” that has been in place since March 17 is due to expire on May 15, and Cuomo’s remarks over the last two weeks have focused on when and where to re-open, and how to re-open without causing a spike in new infections.
He has laid out criteria for economic development regions across the state to re-open, and officials in the Capital Region are working to meet the criteria, though there’s no certainty they will be able to comply. But Cuomo offered some hope, based on the virus being less prevalent upstate.
“Upstate New York the numbers are dramatically different than they are downstate,” Cuomo said. “We’ll be talking about construction and manufacturing re-opening upstate; downstate, I don’t see that happening.”
Under his previously announced approach, Cuomo has said resuming non-essential construction and manufacturing activity will be the first phase of re-opening, to be followed by retailing, dine-in restaurants and eventually public gathering places.
Statewide, Cuomo said there were 216 COVID deaths the day before, the lowest total since the illness was at its peak a month ago, with 799 deaths on April 8. Most of the illness and death continues to be in New York City and its immediate suburbs.
Cuomo also announced that the state Department of Health has started a separate investigation of a severe condition among children that appears to be associated with COVID-19 exposure. On Thursday, a 5-year-old in New York City became the first to die from the condition, but 73 other possible cases have been identified.
The Department of Health has issued an advisory about what it calls a serious inflammatory disease called “Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome Associated with COVID-19.”
“There’s still so much we don’t know about COVID-19, and in the beginning we were led to believe that the good news about this virus was it didn’t affect children,” Cuomo said. “Now we have a new issue that we’re looking at where some children affected with the COVID-19 virus are becoming ill with symptoms similar to the Kawasaki disease or toxic shock-like syndrome.”
Meanwhile, the number of cases is continuing to rise in much of the rest of the United States. As of Friday, the Centers for Disease Control had reported more than 76,000 deaths nationwide.
Cases continued to increase in the Capital Region, with two more deaths reported.
Albany County officials reported two more deaths on Friday, bringing the county’s death total to 58 people, 32 of them in nursing homes. The new deaths were of a man in his 80s and a man in his 90s, both with underlying health conditions. To date, there have been 1,309 confirmed positive cases in the county, the most of any county in the Capital Region.
Schenectady County has 547 cases, with 15 people hospitalized. The county death toll remained unchanged, at 28, about half of them in assisted living facilities.
Saratoga County reported 387 confirmed cases, with seven people hospitalized. There were no new deaths reported; to date, the county has had 14 deaths, none confirmed as being in nursing homes.
Fulton County as of Friday had 136 confirmed cases, and eight total deaths, with three at a nursing home, the Fulton Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Johnstown. There have been 64 cases in Montgomery County with four deaths, and Schoharie County has 45 cases, with one death.