FILE PHOTO: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo holds his daily briefing at New York Medical College during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Valhalla, New York, U.S., May 7, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

(Reuters) – A region in the western corner of New York that includes Niagara Falls will become the sixth region in the state to start reopening on Tuesday after clearing a final hurdle related to contact tracing for the novel coronavirus, Governor Andrew Cuomo told a daily briefing.

Cuomo also said he would encourage professional sports teams to play games without fans, and the state would support that effort, noting he personally would like to watch the Buffalo Bills football team play on TV.

Five regions across a large swathe of central and upstate New York were given the green light to start the first phase of reopening on Friday after meeting seven criteria focused on keeping hospitalizations and infections at a manageable rate.

Cuomo said that a western region that includes the Allegany, Erie and Niagara counties would be ready to reopen, starting with construction and manufacturing and some retail operations on Tuesday, after meeting a threshold for contact tracers.

Contact tracers attempt to find all the people who have interacted with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, and are seen as critical to isolating exposed people to curb spread of the disease.

Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut and Rajesh Kumar Singh in Chicago; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Chris Reese

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