ALBANY — New York's state fair is unlikely to take place as scheduled in August and September unless the state's broader economy is fully reopened by then, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo delivered his daily coronavirus briefing Tuesday in Syracuse, where was asked about the fate of the Great New York State Fair, an annual event drawing more than 1 million attendees to the nearby town of Geddes.
As the state tries to stem the spread of coronavirus, Cuomo said the fair is unlikely to take place in 2020 — unless the state has fully reopened its doors by then.
The fair is scheduled for Aug. 21 through Sept. 7.
"Can you open the State Fair unless it's at a point where the entire state is reopened? I don't believe so," the governor said.
New York has been hit harder by COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, than any other state in the nation.
As of Tuesday, more than 295,000 people had tested positive for the disease, including more than 16,000 who ultimately died.
The State Fair has long been a pet project for Cuomo, who has directed more than $100 million in state funding for upgrades at the fairgrounds.
Attendance has swelled as the event expanded to 18 days in recent years, with 1.3 million attendees counted last year.
Cuomo said Tuesday it "breaks his heart" to say the fair may not be able to open this year.
The governor shut down all in-person operations at nonessential businesses March 22 as the coronavirus continued its torrid spread through the state.
That order remains in effect through May 15, at which point Cuomo said he intends to begin reopening some construction and manufacturing businesses only in areas of the state with consistently declining COVID-19 hospitalization rates and an excess of capacity in its hospitals.
But the journey to fully reopening the state will be drawn out significantly.
Cuomo said he intends to take two weeks to analyze the "Phase 1" of the reopening before authorizing other businesses who are at low risk to spread the virus to open.
The governor said each phase of the reopening will come with a two-week analysis period. And events or gatherings that will draw people from other regions or states — such as the State Fair — will continue to be prohibited until late in the reopening process, he said.
Schools in New York, meanwhile, also remain closed through May 15 under Cuomo's order.
The governor has faced repeated questions about whether he intends to keep school buildings shuttered through the rest of the academic year, which runs through much of July.
Cuomo said Tuesday he intends to announce a decision by the end of the week.
That announcement will also include information on the potential for summer school, Cuomo said.