BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — The Southern Tier started a partial reopening on Friday. The region is in Phase 1, allowing construction, manufacturing and curb-side retail.
“Probably the number one business question I’ve got is, ‘Where do salons and barber shops fall in?’ and that question was finally answered by the governor,” Broome County Jason Garnar said on the Capitol Pressroom. Garnar is among the officials from the region coordinating the reopening.
Haircuts are Phase 2. Restaurants are Phase 3. Education is Phase 4.
The other question Garnar gets often is when do we enter these other phases. That is something he cannot definitively answer, but said, if the region continues to fulfill the reopening criteria set by the state, it could see Phase 2 on May 29th.
The metrics include having enough contact tracers—Garnar said his county went from 3 to fifty in response to the coronavirus—and hospital bed capacity to accommodate a potential outbreak. The numbers also need to indicate the virus is controlled.
Garnar said the region could have opened sooner, citing a randomized antibody test the state conducted to help determine how much of the state’s population had been infected by and recovered from the coronavirus.
“The Southern Tier had like a 2% infection rate compared to 20% infection rate downstate. Our hospitals were not overwhelmed and the spread has been pretty much contained.”
The preliminary results of the statewide antibody testing showed 13.9% of the population have COVID-19 antibodies.
According to Garnar, much of the confirmed positive cases in the region are in contained facilities like nursing homes. A day before the Southern Tier began to reopen, Broome County announced a resident at Willow Point Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Vestal tested positive for COVID-19.