Western NY, including Buffalo, to start phased reopening

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Two women, neither of whom were wearing protective face coverings, sunbathe on a grassy slope at Brooklyn Bridge Park during the current coronavirus outbreak, Sunday, May 17, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

NEW YORK (AP) — Western New York, including the city of Buffalo, met the state’s coronavirus containment goals and can begin to reopen its economy, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.

Hospitals will be able to schedule elective surgeries as the region enters the first phase of reopening on Tuesday, but gatherings such as church services and sports events will still be banned, Cuomo said.

Cuomo said he would encourage professional sports leagues to plan reopening without fans in the stands.

“Personal disclosure — I want to watch the Buffalo Bills,” said Cuomo, who held Monday’s briefing in Buffalo. “But I’m still objective, I’m acting as governor.”

Most of upstate New York will have started reopening by the end of this week, but it will likely be weeks before New York City and its suburbs meet metrics for reopening including the availability of hospital beds and the hiring of enough contact tracers to contain the spread of the virus.

As part of the reopening, judges and staff members will return courthouses in 30 upstate counties starting this week, Cuomo said.

The governor said 106 people died of COVID-19 statewide on Sunday, the lowest number since late March.

Cuomo’s own COVID-19 test, taken at his daily briefing on Sunday, was negative, he said.

Here are the latest coronavirus-related developments in New York:

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TEST KITS MADE IN NEW YORK

New York City ramped up its ability to test for the coronavirus, with testing available at more than 150 sites citywide and test kits made in the city now in use at city-run health clinics, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.

The partnership between the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and local businesses Print Parts and Collab will be producing 60,000 test kits weekly by the week of June 1, de Blasio said. “We’ll keep going as far as we have to go to make sure that every New Yorker who needs a test gets one,” he added.

De Blasio announced Sunday that urgent care provider CityMD would offer tests for the virus at its 123 locations, raising the number of test sites in the city to more than 150.

The mayor said the city is continuing to hire public health workers to trace the contacts of people who test positive for COVID-19.

“All of the pieces — the test kids, the test sites, the labs, the tracers — all of these pieces are coming together to give us the huge, robust test and trace program we need to push back this disease and move forward in this city,” he said.

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Villeneuve reported from Albany, New York.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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