Spurred on by the success of rapid testing in getting 7,000 fans into Bills Stadium Saturday to see Buffalo’s first playoff win in 25 years, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York will dramatically expand such quick testing sites in a bid to reopen restaurants, entertainment venues and other businesses.
During the second part of his four-day State of the State address Tuesday, Cuomo also launched an “Arts Revival” program that will feature “pop-up” performances by musicians and actors at outdoor venues throughout New York.
“Testing is the key to reopening our economy before the vaccine hits critical mass. Rapid testing poses great possibilities. It can be completed in as little as 15 minutes,” Cuomo said in his virtually delivered speech.
“Because of New York’s spirit of innovation, we have performed more COVID tests per capita than any state in the country. Now we will lead on rapid testing.”
The governor noted the state Health Department conducted rapid testing on 7,000 Buffalo Bills fans so they could attend last Saturday’s playoff game — a template for reopening indoor dining, theaters and business offices.
“All early indications suggest this model was successful, and it poses great possibility to reopen events to the public,” Cuomo said.
He continued, “Why can’t we use rapid testing to open restaurants in orange zones, theaters, offices? There are so many options.”
Indoor dining is currently prohibited in New York City eateries because of the recent COVID-19 outbreak.
The real estate community will open additional coronavirus rapid testing sites where people can get tested before entering a business or engaging in a social activity.
“We will open hundreds of these new ‘pop-up’ rapid testing sites statewide to bring this effort to scale,” Cuomo said.
In addition, property owners and other companies will reopen “COVID-safe” office buildings.
Major landlords with more than 100 million square feet of space have already agreed to offer testing services to all tenants in their buildings on a regular basis, he said.
“Office buildings are the engines of our economy. Bringing workers back safely will boost ridership on our mass transit, bring customers back to restaurants and stores and return life to our streets,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo also announced a “New York Arts Revival” initiative to jump-start New York’s world-renowned arts and entertainment programs with a series of outdoor “pop-up performances” beginning Feb. 4. The Broadway theater district and other venues have been shut down for 10 months during the pandemic.
More than 150 world-class artists will participate — including Amy Schumer, Chris Rock, Renée Fleming, Wynton Marsalis and Hugh Jackman, along with organizations such as the Ballet Hispanico, Arts Nova, the Albany Symphony Orchestra, the National Black Theatre and Pendragon Theatre in Saranac Lake, the governor said.
“These artists are part of what makes New York New York,” Cuomo said.
The pop-up performances and exhibitions will be held at outdoor sites in New York City and all across the state, including at parks, the Park Avenue Armory, St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn’s Dumbo and the Queens Theatre.
Cuomo said the pop-up program will feature two main events — the opening of Little Island at Pier 55 and the 20 anniversary of the Tribeca Film Festival in June.
As part of Arts Revival, the state will also work with the Mellon Foundation, to put more than 1,000 artists back to work and fund dozens of community arts groups.
“The show will go on. The fans will be back. And New York will be New York again. We will go to performances and we will applaud like never before,” Cuomo said.
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