County Executive’s Corner: “Phase Two”

By County Executive Ed Day

Rockland County and the rest of the Mid-Hudson Region have now entered Phase Two of the NY Forward Reopening Plan. Industries now able to open include: Offices, Real Estate, In-Store Retail, Vehicle Sales, Leases and Rentals, Retail Rental, Repair and Cleaning, Commercial Building Management, Hair Salons and Barbershops and Outdoor Dining.

We are moving forward because our numbers continue to trend in the right direction. One of the numbers we watch very closely is that of hospitalizations. We separate this data into two categories, those hospitalized and confirmed to have COVID-19 and those under investigation for COVID-19.

Eight weeks ago the total for both categories was 335.
Six weeks ago the total was 251.
Four weeks ago the total was 129.
Two weeks ago the total was 75.
And this week the total dropped to 16.

This is a clear indicator that we have not only successfully flattened the curve here in Rockland but we are driving the infection’s severity downward. We are seeing fewer and fewer cases due to the improved safety measures instituted here and across New York State. And you don’t need to take my word for it. You can see this hospitalization, the reopening metrics and other data by visiting RocklandGov.com and viewing our Map and Metric Dashboards.

I want to recognize the hard work of our Departments of Planning and Health which are doing this work every day to keep you, and I informed about the situation locally. This data should give you a sense of security as you begin to get haircuts, go shopping, get back to work and visit restaurants. However, it is important to note that things are going to be a little bit different.

We all need to adjust to these new guidelines and it is completely normal to feel anxiety as we begin this process. But please remember, these new procedures have been put in place to protect not only your health and safety but the health of your loved ones, children, parents and grandparents.

We must all continue to practice good hygiene, now is not the time to relax or give up on the habits that helped stop this disease. I continue to ask that you please wear a face covering or mask if you cannot social distance and practice proper handwashing, 20 seconds with soap and warm water or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

I know many are curious about how and when we proceed into the following Phases and in brief explanation, once you meet the metrics for entering Phase One as long as you continue that trajectory and do not back slide you can move forward.

We are currently on track to enter Phase Three on June 23rd which will allow Restaurants and Personal Care businesses like nail salons, spas, massage therapy and tattoo and piercing facilities to open. And we will enter Phase Four on July 7th which will allow Arts, Entertainment, Recreation and Education services to reopen.

Each of these businesses that will soon reopen and those that have just done so have created a safety plan, which must be on file in case of inspection and submitted an affirmation to NYS through the NY Forward website that they have reviewed the state’s guidelines, understand them and will follow them.

My Office and our Office of Economic Development and Tourism have been doing everything humanly possible to assist these businesses as they reopen. We have been sharing guidance with municipalities, local chambers of commerce and with businesses directly. We distributed ear loop style face masks to local small businesses and nonprofits and are continuing to look for ways to get them the PPE they need to reopen and stay open.

Bottom line, we are working to ensure that businesses reopen in a way that is responsible and protects the health and safety of both their employees and customers. Our reopening thus far has gone smoothly despite several last-minute changes from NYS and the Governor’s Office. We should all take heart that each level of government is working together to manage this process safely and responsibly. And we will adhere to our credo of “Safety First, People Always” as we move forward.