The North Country needs about 500 more tests to begin first phase of reopening

St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators Chairman Joseph Lightfoot says the North Country is “very, very close” to reaching its final benchmark for reopening.

“We’re looking at probably having to come up with another 500 tests in the North Country region,” he said. “I would venture a guess to say by Friday, we will have reached that metric.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday the formation of regional committees, or what he’s calling “control rooms,” to help each part of the state reopen.

Lightfoot is a member of the North Country’s “control room,” made up of local officials from across the seven-county region. They’ll be checking in with the governor’s office daily as the state starts to unpause.

Lightfoot said he feels confident that the region is in good shape to begin a slow, phased reopening.

“I think everybody in this world has now become accustomed to the fact that you wear a mask and you stay a minimum of six feet away from anybody that you meet,” he said. “So if we follow the instructions — and they’re pretty easy to follow, they’re pretty clear — I think we’ll be all right.”

Lightfoot said he did not share concerns that some have expressed over the potential for a resurgence in new infections with more visitors coming from downstate.

“We depend in the summertime on people — our children, our relatives, our friends, people that have been former residents of the upstate area — to return in the summertime,” he said.

Because air travel could prove to be more difficult right now, Lightfoot expects that could discourage some people from coming. But overall, he said, the community has done “the best it can” to prepare for reopening.

“And the result of that is that we’ve leveled the curve and we’re on our way out of this,” said Lightfoot. “The last thing we want to do is to screw it up and go back to [the way] we acted prior to this and have a resurgence.”