When should New York City reopen? Governor: It’s my call

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A person walks by the water during the coronavirus outbreak, Thursday, May 21, 2020, at Jones Beach in Wantagh, New York. As pandemic lockdowns ease across the United States, millions of Americans are set to take tentative steps outdoors to celebrate Memorial Day, the traditional start of summer. But public health officials are concerned that if people congregate in crowds or engage in other risky behaviors, the long weekend could cause the coronavirus to come roaring back. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

KAREN MATTHEWS (AP)

New York City’s mayor unveiled a new set of data thresholds Friday to help determine when to loosen restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic, but his frequent political sparring partner, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, later said it will be up to the state — not the city — to make those decisions.

“No local official can open or close,” Cuomo said, noting that the state has established its own set of metrics intended to measure the safety of reopening.

“We said at the beginning it’s going to be one standard that is data-driven. There’s no politics here. What’s safe is safe,” the governor said.

The offices of both Democrats have been saying that the city, among the hardest hit in the world by the virus, is on target to begin reopening its economy in the first half of June.

De Blasio said Friday that in order to enter the first phase of the reopening, including manufacturing and retail with curbside pickup, the city must stay below thresholds for three things: the daily number of people admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19, the total number of patients in intensive care at public hospitals and the citywide percentage of people testing positive for the virus.

“If we do it right, if people stick to the plan, stick to the guidance, we will move to Phase 1 in either the first or second week of June,” the mayor said.

De Blasio had previously said that all three metrics would have to move downward in unison for 10 to 14 days for the city to reopen.

“The day-to-day changes, the small up and downs, matter less,” he said in explaining the new criteria for reopening. “What matters more now is staying at a low level and keeping it that way and so we’re going to be talking about thresholds now.”

Cuomo’s standards, which apply to the entire state, are based around measures including whether a region has had an overall decline in the number of hospitalizations and the availability of hospital beds.

Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, said the indicators used by the city and the state “are in line with one another” and that the two administrations are in constant communication.

“We are aligned in our approach — nothing will reopen until it is safe to do so,” de Blasio spokeswoman Jane Meyer told The Associated Press.

Regional economic re-openings began in upstate areas last Friday, with different industries opening in phases.

Cuomo said that Long Island and the mid-Hudson Valley region, including the city’s northern suburbs, are poised to phase economic activity back in next week if COVID-19-related deaths continue to decline and they meet state standards for contact tracing. He said construction projects can begin staging in those regions now.

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