By Nick Esposito

Parts of New York may begin reopening May 15 when New York State on Pause is scheduled to end, but downstate areas hit particularly hard by COVID-19 — Nassau and Suffolk counties among them — won’t, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday. 

Cuomo’s stay-at-home order began on March 22 to limit the spread of the coronavirus. It was extended to April 15, and then to May 15.

Cuomo on Saturday said Long Island doesn’t meet the state’s new criteria for reopening, which he detailed last week. The governor mentioned Long Island counties, specifically, could wait longer, to possibly mid-June, before opening back up in stages. 

Cuomo signed an executive order to push back the state’s May 15 New York on Pause deadline, but stopped short of moving the date, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa said in an NBC New York report

“Yesterday’s Executive Order extended the underlying legal authority for the executive order BUT did not change the text of any of the directives in NY ON PAUSE & so the expiration date on May 15 still stands until further notice,” DeRosa said in the report.

To open, the each New York region needs the following:

  • Experience a 14-day decline in hospitalizations and deaths on a 3-day rolling average.
  • Regions with few COVID cases cannot exceed 15 new total cases or 5 new deaths on a 3-day rolling average.
  • A region must have fewer than two new COVID patients admitted per 100,000 residents per day.

Currently, Long Island — which has seen a decline in cases and deaths due to the bug — doesn’t check all of these boxes yet. To track the stats of coronavirus on Long Island click here.

After these guidelines are fulfilled, the region can open in four phases. To see the full plan click here.

Also on Saturday, Cuomo announced the launch of a new initiative to expand access to testing in low-income communities and communities of color. The state is partnering with Northwell Health to establish an initial 24 temporary testing sites at churches in predominately minority communities in downstate New York to build on the state’s network of downstate testing sites.