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As some NY businesses close due to COVID-19, Cuomo looks ahead to 'restarting' economy

As some NY businesses close due to COVID-19, Cuomo looks ahead to 'restarting' economy

Virus Outbreak New York

A man walks through a nearly empty Times Square, which is usually very crowded on a weekday morning, Monday, March 23, 2020 in New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered most New Yorkers to stay home from work to slow the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

After pausing daily life in New York due to the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is already considering how to move forward. 

Less than 24 hours after non-essential businesses closed across the state, Cuomo said on Monday that a task force led by Steve Cohen and Bill Mulrow, two of his former top aides, will examine how to reboot the state's economy after the public health crisis subsides. 

The pandemic's impact on the economy is apparent. The stock market has dropped more than 10,000 points since late February. Several businesses across many industries, including the retail and travel sectors, are struggling to stay afloat because of widespread concern about the virus. Some workers lost their jobs or had hours reduced due to the downturn. 

An example of the businesses being affected by the statewide shutdown is the casino industry. Cuomo supported opening commercial casinos in New York. The four upstate casinos employ thousands of people. Other gaming facilities have thousands of workers. 

As of last week, casinos are closed due to the coronavirus outbreak. The American Gaming Association projects that $1.1 billion in economic activity will be lost if casinos remain closed for two months. 

LIST: Cayuga County-area grocery store hours, limits and more during COVID-19

Cuomo on Monday took responsibility for closing non-essential businesses — he did so by executive order — and discussed the need to "plan the pivot back to economic functionality." 

"You can't stop the economy forever," he said. 

How soon that return may happen and what it will look like remain open questions.

One possibility is letting younger people return to work. Young people with no underlying illnesses are at low risk of serious infection. Medical professionals are more worried about older people, those with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems contracting COVID-19. 

Cuomo is also considering whether someone who recovered from the coronavirus should be able to return to work once they test negative. There is a possibility someone could be immune from contracting the virus again, but health experts haven't reached that conclusion. 

"Can you get to a point where the healthy, the people who are most likely not going to be affected, can go to work?" Cuomo asked aloud. "Remember, you study the numbers across the countries that have been infected. The survival rate for those who have been infected is like 98%. A lot of people get it. Very few die from it." 

LIST: Cayuga County-area COVID-19 closures, cancellations, meeting/event updates

For now, the public health crisis is the main focus. 

With 20,875 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, New York has the most positive tests in the U.S. That's largely a product of the state's testing capacity. Through Sunday, the state has tested 78,289 people for COVID-19. 

Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at auburnpub.com.

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