SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga and the greater Capital Region entered Phase 4 of the state’s reopening plan on July 1.
The industries specifically tagged to reopen in phase four include: professional sports competitions - with no fans, higher education, both indoor and outdoor low-risk arts and entertainment, and media production.
Regionally, the rate of those testing positive for the COVID-19 virus has remained low and statewide has fallen dramatically compared to where they were earlier this year.
This week, the number of positive test results ranged from 0.7% to 1.5% across the state, with the Capital Region measuring at 1.0% - or 1 of every 100 people who had been tested, testing positive for COVID-19.
New York State has conducted more diagnostic tests per capita than any nation on earth, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this week.
“New York State is doing great, the numbers are good, the numbers are solid,” Cuomo said regarding New York’s infection rates, hospitalizations and the number of deaths recently caused by the virus. “But I feel there are storm clouds on the horizon,” he warned.
Thirty-five states have seen an increase in infection rates this week.
“Now they’re all starting to say: we better take this seriously. We better start wearing masks. They’re going backwards on their reopening plan – which is just what we talked about happening,” Cuomo said. “If you reopen too fast, you’re going to have to close. And that’s the worst situation, the worst for the economy and you’re going to lose more people in the meantime.”
The formula the governor described at his July 1 press briefing includes: testing, tracing, social distancing and wearing a mask. To that last point, a Fox Business report posted July 1 cited a Goldman Sachs study that says a national face mask mandate would slow the spread of COVID-19 and potentially prevent the reinstatement of lockdowns that would wreak havoc on the U.S. economy. He also cautioned about the slipping of citizen compliance.
“If you have citizen compliance dropping and you don’t have local governments enforcing, then you’re going to see the virus go up. Period.” Phase 3 indoor dining in New York City was postponed due to a combination of lack of local enforcement, an influx of visitors and lack of public compliance, Cuomo added.
In Phase 4, social distancing, face-covering and hygiene protocols continue to apply. Arts and entertainment businesses are mandated to limit workforce and patron/visitor presence to no more than 33% of the maximum occupancy for a particular area at any given time outside, and to no more than 25% of maximum occupancy inside.
Mandatory directives regarding the resuming of professional sports competitions include there be no live audience, fans, or spectators allowed to attend or to enter the venue. Additionally, fans are prohibited from congregating outside the venue.
The industries which remain closed are amusement parks, video lottery gaming and casino gaming facilities, indoor movie theaters, large gathering concert or event venues, indoor common portions of retail shopping malls greater than 100,000 square feet and gyms and fitness centers. This week more than 200 gym-goers in West Virginia were urged to quarantine after a Planet Fitness client tested positive for Covid-19.