The Mohawk Valley's reopening process will be safe, responsible and deliberative.

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente discussed the region's planned phase one reopening during his daily COVID-19 briefiing on Monday. The Mohawk Valley Region, at least as far as Governor Cuomo is concerned, encompasses Oneida, Herkimer, Fulton, Montgomery, Schoharie and Otsego counties.

Picente thanked not only first responders and essential personnel, but also the residents of each of the six counties for adhering to social distancing and mask wearing directives which, he says, has made the phase one reopening possible in the very near future.

Unfortunately, as of Monday afternoon, talks of reopening were joined by words like 'possible', 'probable' and 'likely', as it related to phase-one.

When asked when the area would find out for sure that we're cleared for a phase one reopening, Picente said, ''Probably on Friday.'' He also noted the governor's New York On Pause executive order is effect through May 15 (this Friday). Picente said he was only speculating, but thinks it's possible phase one may not begin until next Monday, May 18.

When given the green light, the county executive emphasized this will not be 'grand opening' or 'the flip of a switch' that allows life to return to normal. Instead, residents should still be cautious and follow the aforementioned social distancing and mask wearing. And, should not throw caution to the wind by congregating or hosting gatherings.

Regions will have stages of reopening as defined by the governor, which generally  includes the following categories:

  • Phase One - general construction, manufacturing, retail operations that offer curb side pickup
  • Phase Two - professional services, financial services, insurance, retail, administrative support, real estate and rental leasing
  • Phase Three - Restaurants and food service, hotels and accomodations
  • Phase Four - Arts, recreating and entertainment

Picente said he believed 'places of worship' would fall into the phase-two opening, but would seek clarification from the state.

And, he called the first phase 'the real test'. From there, regions would be able to advance to the next phase every two weeks - as long as numbers allow. So, in theory, the quickest a region could climb to phase four from phase one is six weeks, he said.

WIBX reported last week that the Mohawk Valley Region and the neighboring CNY Region would be counted as one, advancing, or being held back, on the same or similar schedules. However, this is no longer the case, Picente said. But, when asked about the two regions again being looked-at by New York as two separate regions, Picente said that idea was 'not entirely by the wayside.'

''Hopefully they can join us sooner rather than later,'' he said.

The one category the CNY Region is currently lacking, based on state numbers, is overall tests administered.

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