Photo by Dave Warner – The Mohawk Valley just east of Lock 17 and Little Falls.

During his press conference today, Governor Andrew Cuomo stated that the Mohawk Valley has met all of the criteria to begin reopening on May 15th.

“A new chapter starts today,” the governor said Monday. “This is the next big step of this historic journey.”

The Mohawk Valley includes Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, and Schoharie Counties. The Southern Tier and the Finger Lakes region have also met those goals.

These three regions can begin opening businesses for phase one, which includes construction; manufacturing and wholesale supply chain; retail for curbside pickup and drop-off or in-store pickup; and agriculture, forestry, and fishing.

The required criteria include:

  • A steady 14-day decline in positive cases
  • A steady 14-day decline in deaths
  • The decline in new hospitalizations on a rolling average
  • Hospital bed capacity must meet a 30% threshold
  • ICU bed capacity must meet a 30% threshold
  • Testing rates of 30 per 1,000 residents
  • At least 30 contact tracers per 100,000 residents

He also stated that certain other low-risk businesses and recreational activities will also open on that date. They include:

  • Landscaping and gardening
  • Outdoor, low-risk recreational activities like tennis
  • Drive-in movie theaters

“We are starting a new chapter in the fight against this virus – we’ve worked together as a state to flatten the curve and the decline has finally reached a point where it is just about where we started this journey, so now we can turn to reopening,” Governor Cuomo said. “As we approach May 15, we have put regional control rooms in place, which are made up of the top government officials and academic and healthcare professionals in that region, to watch the situation in each region develop and increase or decrease the activity and speed of reopening based on the metrics and guidelines. These control rooms are critical because we just made it over the mountain and nobody wants to go back to the other side now.”

Cuomo stated that there will be a Regional Control Room team for the Mohawk Valley that includes:

  • RoAnn Destito, OGS commissioner
  • Steve DiMeo, former REDC co-chair
  • Sam DeRiso, UFCW Local 1 and president of the CNY Labor Council
  • Anthony Picente, Oneida county executive
  • Matt Ossenfort, Montgomery County executive
  • John Stead, Fulton County administrator
  • Vincent Bono, Herkimer County chairman
  • Dave Bliss, Otsego County chairman
  • William Federice, Schoharie County chairman
  • Robert Palmieri, Utica mayor
  • Jackie Izzo, Rome mayor

The governor said that businesses should make sure that they implement the proper protocols before reopening, including social distancing, making PPE available, and being able to test and trace contacts with any infected employees.

Finally, the Governor confirmed 1,660 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 337,055 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 337,055 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, there are 98 (2 more than previous day) cases in Herkimer County with 3 deaths.