Once again, the Capital Region is on the precipice. In his May 17 press briefing, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that both the Capital Region and Western New York had both gotten within a criterion of beginning their phased reopening. Each region must meet seven criteria.
Early last week, the Capital Region came within one, but backslid later in the week to two criteria, compelling the governor to extend the region’s stay-at-home order until May 28. The governor did note that, if a region were to reach its seven-criteria benchmark during that time, it would be able to immediately break the order and begin its phased reopening.
As of just yesterday, the Capital Region still had two criteria to accomplish: a 14-day decline in hospitalizations (or three-day average of less than 15 new hospitalizations) and a 14-day decline in hospitalized deaths (or a three-day average of under five new ones). Those two criteria have been met, and it is now down to just one, having to do with contact tracing. “There is still a need to increase tracing, the number of people who are prepared to do tracing, and that is a pure administrative function,” said the governor. “In the Capital District, we need 383 tracers; we need an additional 166 identified.” He went on to say that the state would be in contact with the regional heads today to help hire, identify and train those additional tracers. (You can apply to become a contact tracer here.)
Once the Capital Region reaches its phased reopening, it will be divided into four stages: phase one will include reopening of construction, manufacturing and wholesale supply chain, retail (curbside pickup) and agriculture, forestry and fishing; phase two, professional services, finance and insurance, retail, administrative support, and real estate and rental leasing; phase three, restaurants and food services, and hotels and accommodations; and phase four, arts, entertainment and recreation, and education.
On May 16, the governor announced that the state’s horse racing tracks, along with Watkins Glen (car) racetrack, could reopen without fans as early as June 1, regardless of where a region stood in terms of meeting the seven criteria. The New York Racing Association (NYRA) will be announcing when it plans to reopen Belmont Park, and eventually, Saratoga Race Course.