Andrew Cuomo
Andrew CuomoReuters

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that several regions of the state outside New York City could start reopening their economies this weekend after meeting criteria related to hospitalizations and testing for the coronavirus.

Cuomo said that the Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley and Southern Tier regions in central and western New York meet the seven criteria to reopen, including a two-week decline in hospital deaths and enough people to trace the contacts of new cases, Reuters reported.

He also said certain business and recreational activities, including tennis, landscaping and drive-in theaters could open on May 15, when a stay-at-home order expires. The regions that qualify will also be allowed to reopen after that date.

“Some regions are ready to go today,” Cuomo was quoted as having told a daily briefing. “They just need to get some logistical pieces in order by the end of the week.”

Due to the rapid spread of the virus in New York City, the state has been by far the hardest hit by the pandemic, accounting for more than one-third of the nearly 80,000 American lives lost, according to a Reuters tally.

Meanwhile, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday the number of deaths in New York City from causes other than COVID-19 rose by 5,293 above the seasonal norm during the first two months of the pandemic, citing data from the city’s health department.

These deaths could be directly or indirectly attributed to the virus, including people who did not seek life-saving care for fear of exposure to COVID-19, and suggest the running death tally likely understates the actual toll, the CDC said, according to Reuters.

A nearly two-month shutdown of schools and non-essential businesses has worked to limit infections in New York, staving off a collapse of the city’s hospital system, Cuomo said on Monday.

Across the state, hospitalizations have been on a downward trend for nearly a month, and the 161 fatalities reported for Sunday marked the lowest number of daily coronavirus-related deaths since March 26.

Cuomo said late last month that New York state may start reopening manufacturing and construction after May 15, the date on which the lockdown he ordered is set to expire.

On Monday he once again warned that reopening too quickly could backfire.

“We took the worst situation in the nation and changed the trajectory,” Cuomo said. “The rest of the nation the cases are still on the incline.”