New York State Takes Preliminary Planning Steps to Restart the Economy

While the White House pushes to get to re-open the nation’s economy, having released a preliminary three-phase guideline — Opening Up America Again , Governor Cuomo has taken initial steps towards a regional plan that includes New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Rhode Island. On the national level, President Trump has reportedly called upon 200 prominent business leaders from across industries to help steer the economy in a post-coronavirus world out of what could be the nation’s worst recession since the 1929 Great Depression. It is hoped that the assembled economic recovery taskforce known as the Opening the Country Council, will “produce a more independent, self-sufficient, and resilient nation.”

After 51-days since the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in New York, Governor Cuomo announced that New York appears to have past the peak of its coronavirus outbreak, as April 20th marked the third straight day of a notable decline in New York’s daily death toll. A press release by the Governor’s office delivered the news of the planned creation of a multi-state council to be comprised of one health expert, one economic development expert and the respective Chief of Staff from each state. The council has been tasked with developing a “fully integrated regional framework to gradually lift the states’ stay at home orders while maintaining the risk of increased spread of the virus.” Tools to be incorporated into the framework will include testing, contact tracing, treatment and social distancing, which will rely on the best available scientific, statistical, social and economic information to manage and evaluate them.

On April 22nd, news headlines delivered reports that the Mount Sinai Laboratory was among one of the few labs to receive emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to test whether patients have the antibodies to fight off the virus that causes COVID-19. This type of antibody testing has been identified by Governor Cuomo as “key to reopening the state’s economy and lifting the restrictions on social interaction. Since securing FDA approvals, Mount Sinai has reportedly identified more than 600 people deemed eligible and committed to donate plasma for severely ill patients among the approximately 7,300 people recovered from COVID-19 for at least two weeks that were screened. However the volume of weekly testing is currently limited by “shortages of the reagents used in the assessments and the need to connect to more commercial lab partners that can increase the number of tests conducted,” but Mount Sinai anticipates that by June, millions of the antibody tests would be conducted. To further support the testing, the Cuomo administration has reportedly started a random population survey of 3,000 New Yorkers to approximate the number of the state’s 19 million residents might have immunity.

In addition, former mayor Michael Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies have committed $10.5 million to help New York State fight COVID-19

In addition, former mayor Michael Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies have committed $10.5 million to help New York State fight COVID-19, along with assisting in organizational support and technical assistance to help build and execute the state’s new contact tracing program according to an April 22nd announcement by Governor Cuomo’s office. As the state continues to work to flatten the curve, contact tracing becomes crucial in helping to prevent the spread of the virus by using testing to confirm if someone has COVID-19, interviewing that person to identify people they may have been in contact with during their illness and during the few days before symptoms began, reaching out to their contacts to alert them to their risk of infection and then referring contacts to medical providers and asking non-ill people to stay home for 14 days to be sure they don’t spread COVID-19 to others.

  • The Bloomberg School of Public Health at St. Johns Hopkins University will build an online curriculum and training program for contact tracing as part of the tracing program that will be done in coordination with the downstate region as well as New Jersey and Connecticut. Serving as an important resource to gather best practices, the new program will be on the largest scale ever implemented in either New York or nationwide; and will serve as a model that can be replicated across the U.S. according to the press release.
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies will work the New York State Department of Health to help identify and recruit contract tracer candidates for the training program; as well as working with New York State to establish an expert panel to review the work of the program. ‘
  • Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies will through a partnership assist with the development of call center protocols and digital solutions to rapidly catalyze progress and expedite workflow; and determine best ways to increase community engagement and understanding of the role of contact tracing as a public health tool.