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COVID-19: 3 Indian-Americans part of advisory board on NY’s re-opening strategy

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Three eminent Indian-Americans, including Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga, will be part of an advisory board formed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to help guide the state’s strategy to gradually reopen the business and institutions amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as it continues to witness a declining trend in the number of cases.

New York is the epicentre of the pandemic in the US and currently has 295,106 COVID-19 cases with over 17,000 deaths. On Tuesday, 337 people died of the disease in the state.

The New York Forward Re-Opening Advisory Board will be chaired by the governor’s former secretaries Steve Cohen and Bill Mulrow and includes over 100 business, community, and civic leaders from industries across the state.

Banga is also among the American business leaders chosen by US President Donald Trump to offer recommendations on how to revive the American economy ravaged by the deadly coronavirus.

Besides him, Chair of advisory firm Tandon Capital Associates Chandrika Tandon and President and CEO of Hotel Association of New York City Vijay Dandapani are also part of the advisory board constituted by the New York governor.

“We’ve come up with a phased plan to re-open New York so every region in the state has the same opening template as we begin this process,” Cuomo said.

“We have to be smart about this – emotions can’t drive our re-opening process – and we’ve come up with factual data points that each region must monitor as they begin to re-open, he said, adding that the board will help guide the state in the re-opening process and ensure businesses are following the necessary guidelines to preserve public health.

Banga has been the Mastercard’s CEO for 10 years and in February, the payments giant announced that he will step down from his role and assume charge as executive chairman of the board of directors from January 1, 2021.

A recognised leader in the worlds of business, education and arts, Tandon is also an acclaimed composer and vocalist and a Grammy-nominated artist. Her album ‘Soul Call’ had earned her a Grammy nomination.

Tandon’s advisory firm Tandon Capital Associates focuses on measurable transformation of institutions to excellence. At New York University (NYU), she is Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Chair of the NYU President’s Global Council and Chair of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering Board of Overseers.

She is a member of the President’s Circle of the National Academies, the President’s Council on International Activities at Yale University, and the President’s Advisory Council of the Berklee College of Music, where Berklee-Tandon Global Clinics connect faculty to underprivileged talent worldwide, according to her profile on the NYU website.

Dandapani is a hotel industry veteran, who was recognised in 1998 as one of the Crain’s New York Business top 100 minority business leaders in the New York City.

In 2002, the Asian American Business Development Center, New York, selected him as one of the 50 outstanding Asian Americans in Business. He is an alumnus of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.

On Tuesday, Cuomo said that the state continues to record a decline in total hospitalizations and intubations.

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations was 900. It was below the 1,000 mark for the first time in over a month, down from over 3,000 on April 4, proving that the outbreak was waning in the state.

Cuomo stressed that the state will have to gradually begin the re-opening process because “you can’t sustain being closed. The economy can’t sustain it. Individual families can’t sustain it. We can’t sustain it on a personal level. Our children can’t sustain it.

He said the state is adopting a set of rules and guidelines to re-open and under this it is essential to ensure that the hospital system is not overwhelmed.

If the hospital system in an area exceeds 70 per cent capacity, which means you only have 30 per cent left, or if the transmission rate hits 1.1, those are danger signs, he said.

Outlining additional guidelines for the phased plan to re-open New York on a regional basis, Cuomo said based on CDC recommendations, once a region experiences a 14-day decline in the hospitalization rate, they may begin a phased re-opening.

Businesses in each region will re-open in phases, he said, adding that phase one will include opening construction and manufacturing functions with low risk, phase two will open certain industries based on priority and risk level.

Businesses considered ‘more essential’ with inherent low risks of infection in the workplace and to customers will be prioritized, followed by other businesses considered ‘less essential’ or those that present a higher risk of infection spread. Regions must not open attractions or businesses that would draw a large number of visitors from outside the local area, he said.

Further, each business and industry must have a plan to protect employees and consumers, make the physical work space safer and implement processes that lower the risk of infection in the business.

Regions must also implement a testing regimen that prioritizes symptomatic persons and conducts frequent tests of frontline and essential workers.

There must also be at least 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 people and the region must also monitor the regional infection rate throughout the re-opening plan.

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