STERNBERG: Opening Will Take To Mid-July

LIFE IN THE TIME OF COVID-19

Opening Will Take

Until Mid-July

Richard Sternberg, a retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, has agreed to provide his professional perspective while the coronavirus threat continues. Dr. Sternberg, who is also a village trustee, resides in Cooperstown.

On Sunday, April 26, Governor Cuomo outlined the general plan for re-opening the Upstate economy at his daily briefing. A front-page article in this week’s Freeman’s Journal & Hometown Oneonta outlines what he said.

There are a number of conditions to the various phases of the opening. I will explain how they might affect us in Otsego County.

NY PAUSE lasts at least until May 15. Then “phase one” may begin in lower risk regions of the state. I assume this will include the Mohawk Valley region, which includes Otsego County, since we have the second lowest rate positive antibody testing in New York State: 1.7 percent. New York City has 25 percent.

“Phase one” will include opening construction and manufacturing functions with low risk. Employers will have to ensure that proper distancing and safety issues are addressed.

Hopefully, in Otsego County and the surrounding areas, this will mean that hospitals can start doing elective surgery and bring their activities back to normal since, by far, healthcare is the biggest industry in our area, about 10 times larger than tourism, and local healthcare providers have been hemorrhaging money that they can ill afford.

“Phase one” will continue and after two weeks there will be a two-week pause to evaluate what effect this has on the incidence of new COVID-19 cases.

“Phase two” would begin after the two-week break – that is four weeks after “phase one” began and would open certain additional industries and businesses based on priority and risk level. After two weeks there would be another two-week break before advancing to Phase Three.

In essence each step would be in force four weeks before advancing to the next. Presumably additional steps would include opening schools and other businesses.

Finally, what appears to be the last to re-open are what are called “attractive nuisances,” that is activities and events that would attract large groups especially from outside the region or state. Note though, based on the governor’s outline, we don’t begin to reach this stage until eight weeks from the end of the pause on May 15, i.e. July 10.

Based on my reckoning the absolute earliest we could consider bringing back tourists is the middle of July, and then we won’t know about this until we reach that point. There is a good chance that schools will open on time in the fall but it doesn’t look likely that they will re-open this school year.

Hall of Fame Induction Weekend looks very much in doubt to me. (See related article, A1) Colleges and universities are concerned if they can re-open because of the tight living conditions and the fact that students will be coming from areas with much higher percentages of COVID cases.

All of this is predicated on people continuing to take all reasonable precautions, i.e. socially distancing and wearing masks when in public when there is a risk of approaching someone else too closely. We can help in getting a return to normal as quickly as possible by listening to and following all state and local government rules and recommendations.

Stay safe.


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