Despite half of New York starting to reopen on Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants Empire State residents to understand the battle COVID-19 isn't over.

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On Friday, the Central New York North Country, Mohawk Valley, Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions all started Phase 1 of the reopening process.

Those five regions have hit all of the benchmarks needed to start the four-step reopening process. Cuomo laid out seven metrics, based on CDC recommendations, regions must meet to reopen, including hospital capacity, daily deaths and new infections.

Under his plan, a region can start Phase 1 of the reopening process on May 15 if all seven metrics are hit. Phase 1 includes the reopening of construction, manufacturing, retail with curbside pickup, wholesale trade, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting.

The Mid-Hudson and Captial Region regions meet five of the seven metrics. New York City, Long Island and Western New York meet four metrics, as of this writing. Those regions must wait until they hit all of the metrics to start the phased reopening process.

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Despite the reopening process starting in parts of the state, Cuomo is urging New Yorkers to continue practicing social distancing because the battle with the virus hasn't been won.

"As some regions begin the reopening phase, it bears repeating: The Coronavirus pandemic is not "over." We are still seeing over 2,000 new cases on a daily basis. How quickly the state can reopen and how successful we are in this process depends on the efforts of all New Yorkers. You've heard me say it too many times to count, but I'll say it one more time: Wash your hands, wear a mask in public, practice social distancing and remember that you can help protect and safeguard your own health and the health of your neighbors," Cuomo said in an email on Thursday.

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