WASHINGTON

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday his statewide stay-at-home order will expire May 15, shifting the state’s battle to a regional approach to combatting the coronavirus pandemic. 

“This is the next big step in this historic journey,” Cuomo said. “It’s an exciting new phase. We’re all anxious to get back to work. We want to do it smartly. We want to do it intelligently. But we want to do it.”

Total daily diagnoses, hospitalizations, intubations and coronavirus-related deaths are all down, with 161 people dying in the US’s hardest-hit state on Sunday, according to Cuomo.

He continued to emphasize that the daily death toll “is still too high,” but said it is “better than it has been.”

“We see all the arrows are pointing in the right direction,” he said. “The decline has gotten to a point where we are just about where we started the journey.”

Cuomo has set a series of seven criteria for a region to begin opening that include sufficient testing capabilities, 14-day declines in the number of hospitalizations, as well as teams of 30 contract tracers per 100,000 residents.

Contact tracers help to identify individuals who a person that tests positive for the virus had been in contact with prior to their diagnosis, a public health measure intended to help contain the virus’ spread.

Only three regions currently meet the criteria, including the Finger Lakes, the Southern Tier and the Mohawk Valley. A handful of other regions are close to reopening based on the governor’s regulations.

Still, even they will have to take a measured approached to reopening, with Cuomo establishing four phases of business openings rated by how essential they are and how much public health risk they carry.

Each region will have what Cuomo is calling a “control room” that will closely monitor and halt the local reopening if the virus begins to get out of control.

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