New York City, the epicenter of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic in the US, will begin the first phase of reopening its economy on Monday, bringing about 400,000 employees back to work nearly after 100 days in lockdown when the coronavirus crisis began.
New York City had been shut since mid-March as coronavirus ravaged the metropolis, which has more than 205,000 COVID19 cases so far and close to 22,000 deaths.
New York City has met all the metrics. We are going to open New York City for Phase 1 tomorrow, period. That will happen. When we begin Phase 1 in New York City, remember that New York City had the highest number of cases. New York City has the highest density, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday at a press briefing.
The novel coronavirus has hard-hit New York and the state's economic health has deteriorated, and it faces a difficult and painful recovery without significant help from the federal government, according to the Voice of America (VOA).
He however added that New York City has seen widespread protests over the killing of 46-year-old African-American George Floyd and we are concerned that those protests may have increased the spread of the virus.
The state will be conducting 35,000 tests per day in New York City and will monitor the situation daily to see the impact of the protests on the coronavirus infection numbers.
The New York City Department of Buildings also released new COVID-19 safety guidelines for property owners and contractors as 33,556 non-essential construction sites get back to work in phase 1 of the re-opening.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the re-opening of the city is an important milestone that was achieved with the help of all New Yorkers.
He said beginning Monday "something very, very important happens in the city, the beginning of phase one, the restart of the city, the restart of our economy, the restart of the people's livelihoods, and we should all feel that this is a moment that every New Yorker should celebrate as our achievement together, your achievement, because you did the hard work to fight back the coronavirus so we could get to phase one and Monday morning will be a very important day in the history of this city.
As many as 400,000 workers could begin returning to construction jobs, manufacturing sites and retail stores in the city's first phase of reopening.
Regions across New York State began their phased re-opening last month but New York City remained shut as it did not meet the seven health-related criteria necessary for the first phase of reopening.
Cuomo has said that the phase one reopening will bring about 400,000 employees back to work in New York City.
The first phase of re-opening allows construction; manufacturing and wholesale supply chain; retail for curbside pickup and drop-off or in-store pickup; and agriculture, forestry and fishing to resume operations.
The seven metrics that will define whether a region can re-open businesses are decline in total hospitalisations, decline in deaths measured by the three-day rolling average of daily new hospital deaths not exceeding 5, fewer than two new hospitalisations per 100,000 residents, hospital bed capacity regions must have at least 30 per cent of their total hospital beds available before a phased re-opening, availability of 30 per cent of ICU beds in a region, diagnostic testing capacity and contact tracing capacity.
New York State has recorded the lowest number of daily coronavirus deaths for two consecutive days since the pandemic began, in a sign that the state has turned the tide in the COVID-19 battle.
The state lost 35 people on Friday to COVID-19, down from a record-high of 800 just eight weeks ago. On Thursday, 42 New Yorkers died from the virus, a record low since the pandemic began.
Cuomo said Saturday "35 New Yorkers died of coronavirus yesterday. This is a record low since this crisis began.
The number of total hospitalisations was also down to 2,728 from a record-high of 18,825 during the peak of the pandemic, Cuomo had said.
As protests over Floyd's killing intensified in the last few weeks, a nightly curfew was imposed in New York City for almost the whole of last week. de Blasio announced that the curfew will end as the law and order situation improved.
Because we got, each day, a better and better situation, more and more peaceful protesters coming out, better situation overall each day, fewer and fewer arrests, I made the decision to end the curfew. And honestly, I hope it's the last time we will ever need a curfew in New York City. So, the curfew has ended. It is out of effect. It will not be coming back.
The northeastern state of 19.5 million people has seen a record 1.2 million unemployment claims filed in April, since the virus started spreading rapidly and the state paused its nonessential businesses and workforce to contain the outbreak, leading to a drying up of revenue, the VOA report said.
On March 25, the US Senate passed a USD 2.2 trillion stimulus package to address the negative economic impact of the coronavirus. New York, which leads the nation in confirmed cases and hospitalisations, received only USD 3.8 billion, the report added.
The shuttering of so many businesses has crippled the state's thriving economy, which had a GDP of more than USD 1.5 trillion in 2017, according to the New York state comptroller's website.