As New York State continues to flatten the Covid-19 curve the state and region look to begin the gradual process of reopening. Over the weekend, Governor Andrew Cuomo outlined the initial phases of reopening. He has further outlined data-driven principles to open New York safely by region:
- CDC Guidelines: Based on CDC recommendations, once a region experiences a 14-day decline in the hospitalization rate they may begin a phased re-opening.
- Industries: Businesses in each region will re-open in phases. Phase one will include opening construction and manufacturing functions with low risk. Phase two will open certain industries based on priority and risk level. Businesses considered “more essential” with inherent low risks of infection in the workplace and to customers will be prioritized, followed by other businesses considered “less essential” or those that present a higher risk of infection spread. Regions must not open attractions or businesses that would draw a large number of visitors from outside the local area.
- Business Precautions: Each business and industry must have a plan to protect employees and consumers, make the physical workspace safer, and implement processes that lower the risk of infection in the business.
- Building Health Care Capacity: To maintain the phased re-opening plan, each region must have at least 30 percent of hospital beds and ICU beds available after elective surgeries resume.
- Testing Regimen: Regions must implement a testing regimen that prioritizes symptomatic persons and individuals who came into contact with a known COVID-positive person, and conducts frequent tests of frontline and essential workers. Regions must maintain an appropriate number of testing sites to accommodate its population and must fully advertise where and how people can get tested. The region must also use the collected data to track and trace the spread of the virus.
- Tracing System: There must be at least 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 people. The region must also monitor the regional infection rate throughout the re-opening plan.
- Isolation Facilities: Regions must present plans to have rooms available for people who test positive for COVID-19 and who cannot self-isolate.
- Regional Coordination: Regions must coordinate the re-opening of schools, transportation systems, testing, and tracing with other surrounding regions.
- Re-imagining Tele-Medicine
- Re-imagining Tele-Education
- Regional Control Rooms: Each region must appoint an oversight institution as its control room to monitor regional indicators during the phased re-opening, including hospital capacity, rate of infection, PPE burn rate, and businesses.
- Protect and Respect Essential Workers: Regions must continue to ensure protections are in place for essential workers.
Furthermore, the governor has announced the New York Forward Reopening Advisory Board made up of one hundred so-called experts. Outrageously, nobody from the trucking industry was named to this board. Trucking has gone above and beyond to ensure that hospitals, pharmacies, supermarkets, and consumers were well supplied during this pandemic. Drivers risked their own health to keep this economy afloat and this omission is slap in the face to them. The fact that the trucking industry has learned how to safely and efficiently operate while following social distancing, using PPE, and conducting enhanced cleaning should provide valuable lessons to New York businesses looking to open back up. Sadly, those lessons have been pushed aside so that trust fund babies, owners of dismal sports teams, and empty commercial space can feel important.