Following up on a proposed region-based approach to reopening the state’s economy, state Sen. George Borrello and Assemblyman Andy Goodell released a risk-based plan for reopening business sectors.

The Chautauqua County Republicans said they have forwarded the plan to Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who is leading reopening efforts in Western New York.

“As New York state enters its sixth week of New York on PAUSE, we are encouraged at the decreases in COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations that are occurring,” Borrello said Thursday.

“Together, we are preparing to face the next challenge of this chapter, which is reopening our economy safely and sustainably through a strategy that balances regional readiness with business sector risk,” he said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has stated that better news in recent weeks regarding coronavirus infections and deaths shows the state’s efforts to control the virus are working. He said earlier this week that he’ll extend the shutdown orders for many parts of the state past May 15, while some other regions could begin reopening.

He said he planned to announce decisions on further closures by the end of this week.

Borrello said he and Goodell have had “positive conversations” with Hochul about their plan, which provides a breakdown of lower- and higher-risk business sectors through analysis of the workplace setting and activities. Sectors and settings identified as “lower risk” include manufacturing, construction, retail, low-density administrative and sole proprietor small businesses, among others.

Sectors identified as “higher risk” include entertainment, adult daycare services, high-density settings and mass transit. The plan stresses that regional and individual business plans should include all safety measures to reduce the risk as much as possible.

The strategy acknowledges that church services, weddings and other religious activities can have higher inherent risks because of the density of their activities, but notes that these activities enjoy special constitutional protections under the First Amendment. Such activities should be allowed as soon as possible with reasonable safety protocols, Borrello and Goodell said.

While expressing support for the Governor’s Un-PAUSE NY plan, they recommend two changes to the 12-point system for evaluating when a region should restart.

The changes include:

• Adjusting the recommendation regarding hospital rates, which under the governor’s plan must show a 14-day decline. Borrello and Goodell suggest that hospital rates could be “stable or declining” for 14 days without compromising safety or hospital capacity.

• Modifying the contact tracing capacity from the current “30 tracers for every 100,000 residents” to “30 tracers per 100,000 residents or at least two contact tracers for every confirmed active case,” whichever is less.

Borrello notes that under the current guideline, a county the size of Rockland with 311,000 residents and with 11,453 confirmed cases would have just one tracer for every 123 cases, yet the same formula in Chautauqua County, with four active cases, would result in 7.5 tracers for every active case.

“We are encouraged at the support and discussion that our Restarting New York plan generated and, how quickly our partners in government coalesced around a regionally-based approach,” Borrello said. “This business sector risk analysis builds on that initial plan and provides decision makers with a roadmap on how to move forward.”

 

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