NEW YORK. New York, which has long been at the epicenter of the global coronavirus crisis, is ready to reopen in just over a week, creating the conditions for a slow and trial recovery after two months of suffering, social exclusion and economic difficulties.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said Friday that he expects the city will reach several milestones that will allow millions of virus-weakened early signs of normal life to be enjoyed on June 8th. Retail stores may open for curbside or inside. The resumption of the store and the resumption of optional construction and production is part of the initial phase, which can send up to 400,000 people to work.
As other parts of the country, including the less populated areas of New York State, were reopened, New York City, which lost more than 20,000 lives due to the virus, needed more time to recover. Great efforts were required to even reach the level when it was convenient for officials to relax the restrictions on movement and trade that were imposed in March.
Mortality in New York dropped to dozens per day, rather than the 700 or 800 per day that occurred in April, and the number of patients with the virus who are on intensive care in urban hospitals in the city has more than halved.
This progress was largely achieved due to the fact that many New Yorkers followed the rules and wore face masks and maintained social distance as requested. The rewards for vigilance are manifested not only in reducing mortality, but also in reducing the number of people who have a positive test for the virus, and those who require a hospital stay because of it.
“I’m proud of how New York finds out,” Cuomo said.
But even taking into account the successes achieved by the city, the road to a normal life will undoubtedly be steep and rocky. Since February, nearly 900,000 local jobs have disappeared, and thousands of businesses have closed their doors – some forever. Sales tax revenues are expected to fall by $ 1 billion. US, which is part of the budget deficit, estimated at 9 billion. Dollars. The United States, which could push officials toward risky borrowing and cause a sharp decline in basic urban services.
Even as summer draws near, the once-noisy ranks of downtown Manhattan remain almost deserted, clouded by deserted streets and closed shop windows. The metro system is lame with a record low number of passengers. Tourism has evaporated. Broadway theaters plan to stay dark at least until Labor Day, and many industry leaders say they can stay closed until January.
At the first opening, most of the city will still be closed, and restaurants and bars will be limited to pick-up and delivery services, and offices, gyms, cinemas and grooming salons will be closed.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking almost with Cuomo on Friday, was optimistic, as he called the June opening plan “the gateway to the next big step.” But neither he nor the governor has yet to figure out some important details, perhaps the most noticeable of which are how to safely return millions of passengers to public transport.
On Thursday, de Blasio said that between 200,000 and 400,000 people in New York can return to work as part of the first phase of recovery. But when he was asked on Friday whether the city was ready for the upcoming passenger race, he seemed to dodge this problem, saying that many residents simply walk or ride bicycles to work, while others ride a taxi or go by taxi.
“Over the next few months, people will make their choice,” the mayor said. “Some people will be comfortable with public transport, others not. We just have to be honest and real about it. ”
Although Cuomo insisted that the metro was safe, he also said that cyclists themselves might not pose a risk to public health by violating social distance protocols.
“We need a cooperative audience if you are on the subway platform and see that there are a lot of people on it,“ well, wait for the next one, ”he said.
Both leaders warned that while the risk of spreading the virus has decreased, New Yorkers need to continue to take steps to control its spread. Last week alone, more than 5,000 people in the city tested positive for the infection — a sharp decline since early April, when 40,000 people tested positive every week, but still a significant number.
Officials ordered each of the 10 state regions to meet seven health-related indicators before starting the reopening process. New York, the only region that has not yet done so, has not reached the standard for having 30% of hospital beds — it was close, 28% —and it did not deploy enough contact tracing tools to adequately track the spread of the disease.
Earlier this month, de Blasio said he wanted to assemble an army of more than 1,000 contact trackers who act as disease detectives, calling on everyone the patient encounters to map potential carriers of infection. Having a reliable contact tracking program is critical to suppressing the flash and paving the way for reopening. But in a sharp departure from tradition, the city took the project from health officials and transferred it to the system of public hospitals.
Despite such long-standing problems, New York has come a long way since the dark days of the pandemic, when ambulance sirens cried around the clock and hospitals were so crowded by arriving patients that some died without treatment in the emergency rooms.
After the initial shock, New Yorkers at an unexpected rate became accustomed to new realities – wearing nitrile gloves to walk their dogs and standing on strips of masking tape 6 feet apart, waiting to pay for groceries.
However, opening a city can be difficult, especially if residents accustomed to the rules of social distance suddenly return to their neighbors in a cafe or on packed subway platforms. Tensions have already arisen from time to time, when the prickly townspeople are used to watching their personal space and wearing a mask.
According to Cuomo’s plan, New York will have to stay at the first stage, the lowest level of openness, for at least two weeks, as healthcare providers ensure that new infections do not appear and that hospitals remain alert. Government officials plan to distribute free face masks to city businesses that are preparing to open, and create a hotline that employers can call, which the governor called “practical issues.”
On Friday, most of upstate New York received permission for a second phase, which allows most stores, offices and hairdressers to open with restrictions on capacity and social distance.
However, New York was far from so free, and it was unclear how and when he could get there.
“No one has been here before,” Cuomo said, acknowledging that even he was not sure how the city would move forward.
“No one can give you answers,” he admitted. “They don’t even know the questions.”
This article originally appeared in New York Times,
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