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Gov. Andrew Cuomo at New York Medical College of Touro College & University System on May 7. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Large sections of central and northern New York state are "poised to reopen tomorrow" in the first phase of the state's easing of coronavirus restrictions, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a Thursday press briefing.

Why it matters: As other states prepare to reopen, New York — the original epicenter of the novel coronavirus in the U.S. — can set a positive example if infection rates remain low.

What's happening: Retail stores will be allowed to do curbside pickup and low-risk businesses like gardening and landscape can reopen, Cuomo detailed earlier this week. Drive-in movie theaters and other low-risk outdoor activities like tennis will be allowed.

Where it stands: Deaths in the state have largely plateaued since last week — with significantly fewer fatalities than at the height of the state's outbreak, according to leading models from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

  • Hospitalizations and intubations have continued to trend downward in New York overall since last month.

How it works: To reopen, regions need appropriate testing and contract tracing in place, with a decline in hospitalization that lasts at least two weeks. New York City does not qualify to reopen.

  • The regions that currently qualify to reopen Friday are North County, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Souther Tier and Mohawk Valley.
  • Cuomo said that local governments in those areas need to monitor businesses and the number of people who are visiting them and whether social distancing guidelines are being followed.

Go deeper: Cuomo warns of second coronavirus wave if restrictions eased too soon

Go deeper

Rep. Butterfield: "It's unthinkable" if transportation continues to suffer amid pandemic

Axios' Ina Fried and Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.). Photo: Axios

The federal government must prioritize local and state transportation for the economy to recover from the pandemic, Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) stressed on Friday, calling the alternative "unthinkable" during an Axios virtual event on The Future of Transportation & COVID-19.

The big picture: Many cities have introduced funding cuts to their public transit systems after the pandemic shut down economies. Ridership is still down in many regions, and those cuts affect essential workers the most, Butterfield said.

Biden says he would issue nationwide stay-at-home order in face of COVID-flu nightmare

Joe Biden accepts the Democratic Party nomination on Aug. 20. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden told ABC News on Friday that, if elected, he would issue a nationwide stay-at-home order at the recommendation of scientists if coronavirus infections surged in January alongside the flu season.

Why it matters: The country's coronavirus crisis could worsen this winter if hospitals are overwhelmed with patients requiring care from COVID-19 at the same time as the flu. The severity of the influenza season also depends on how many Americans get flu shots.

Updated Oct 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Pfizer booster has 95.6% efficacy, large study shows — FDA authorizes mix-and-match for booster shots — J&J expects $2.5 billion of vaccine sales this year.
  2. Health: Cases and deaths keep falling — White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5-11 — The global coronavirus vaccine gap — Gates Foundation to send $120 million of antiviral pills to lower-income countries.
  3. Politics: Reports: Brazil leader to be accused of crimes against humanity over COVID — Puerto Rico leads U.S. vaccination rates — Hawaii invites fully vaccinated travelers to return from Nov. 1.
  4. Education: Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.