NEW YORK — The Capital Region is on track to go to Phase 2 of COVID-19 reopening Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.
Each phase of reopening in each of New York’s 10 regions lasts a minimum of 14 days. If an expert review of virus activity data in a region and the region’s ability to respond to it reveals no warning signs, the state allows the region to go to the next phase.
Tuesday will be the Capital Region’s 14th day in Phase 1.
“All the numbers look good there,” Cuomo said during his daily briefing Monday. “We’re going to run them by our global team to make sure they’re as good as we think they are.”
The Western New York region is eligible to enter Phase 2 Tuesday; Cuomo said he expects that to happen as well.
Five other regions, including the Mohawk Valley, entered Phase 2 on Friday.
The last region of the state still on full shutdown, New York City, is scheduled to enter Phase 1 on June 8.
Statewide, 54 COVID-related deaths were recorded Sunday and 941 new positive test results were recorded while 49,952 tests were administered — a positive rate of not even 2 percent.
“The tests are very relevant because they’re a snapshot in time,” Cuomo said.
The low numbers compare with as many as 799 New Yorkers dying in a single day and a positive test rate above 20 percent during the height of the pandemic in this state.
“What we have done with this COVID virus is a really amazing accomplishment,” the governor said. “And it was all done by the people of this state.”
But he added: “Just don’t snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”
By this Cuomo referred to police brutality protests scattered across the state, with people gathering in large numbers far less than 6 feet apart in many instances.
“Now we’re seeing these mass gatherings over the past several nights that could exacerbate the COVID-19 spread.”
The protests in some ways are the polar opposite of what New York officials have been asking, ordering and beseeching state residents to do since late March.
The largest of the protests in the state have been in New York City, where COVID-19 hit hardest and still has the strongest hold — 461 positive tests on Sunday and 1,803 patients hospitalized.
A few factors will help reduce the danger presented by protesters gathering en masse in close quarters, Cuomo said: They’re mostly young, they’re outdoors, many were wearing masks and, most important, the number of COVID carriers in the community is significantly diminished.
A significant number of businesses were deemed essential and exempt from the economic shutdown ordered by Cuomo in mid-March. Phase 1 allowed reopening of non-essential construction, manufacturing, pickup/dropoff retail, wholesale trade, agriculture, forestry, hunting and fishing.
Phase 2 allows reopening of offices, real estate, in-store retail (except inside larger malls), vehicle sales and leases, retail/repair/cleaning, commercial building management and hair salons/barbershops.
Each phase of reopening in each of the state’s 10 regions will last at least two weeks. The transition from one phase to the next may be slowed or halted in a region if the pandemic worsens in that region.
Cuomo said Monday that none of the reopened regions have seen their COVID-19 situation worsen during Phase 1.
The Capital Region reported four new COVID deaths Monday, one each in Albany, Columbia, Saratoga and Schenectady counties. Regionwide patient census was down to 78 Monday morning, the fewest since March 30.
Other regions show varied results but still fall within acceptable limits on all seven of the metrics for reopening. The North County, for example, was down to just one hospitalized COVID patient Monday morning, while the Mohawk Valley region counted 62, its second-highest ever.
Statewide, since the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in New York, 371,711 New Yorkers have tested positive and 23,959 have died.