Tag Archives: NYS coronavirus crisis

Cuomo Says Next Phase of Coronavirus Pandemic Requires Fed Help to Scale up Testing, Tracing if Economy Can Reopen

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, in his daily coronavirus press briefing, called for federal coordination of the supply chain to bring testing to scale so states can performing begin reopening functions and declared, “there is no time for politics.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today called for federal coordination of the supply chain to bring testing to scale so states can performing begin reopening functions. Tests are currently produced by private laboratory equipment manufacturers – there are 30 large manufacturers in the U.S. – and these manufacturers sell the tests to smaller labs, who then sell the tests to hospitals and the public. For a test to be performed, local labs must have the necessary testing chemicals known as reagents and there are different reagents for different manufacturer’s tests. The state asked the top 50 labs in New York what they needed to double their testing output, and all said they needed more reagents.

The Governor is also issuing an Executive Order allowing New Yorkers to obtain a marriage license remotely and allowing clerks to perform ceremonies via video conference, a practice that is banned under current law. Many marriage bureaus have temporarily closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, preventing New Yorkers from getting a marriage license during the current health emergency; the Executive Order will temporarily suspend a provision of law that requires in-person visits. 

Governor Cuomo also reiterated the bipartisan call from the National Governors Association for the federal government to provide $500 billion in unrestricted aid to the states to help stabilize the economy and allow the states to perform reopening functions. The federal government has passed three bills to address this crisis, including the federal CARES Act, all of which contained zero funding to offset drastic state revenue shortfalls.

“Why is testing so important? Testing is how you monitor the rate of infection and it’s how we find people with the virus and trace their contacts,” Governor Cuomo said. “The challenge is to bring testing up to scale. We asked the top 50 labs in the state what they would need to double their testing, and they all said the same thing: they need more chemical reagents. We need the federal government to oversee the supply chain and help get labs what they need.”

The Governor confirmed 7,090 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 236,732 confirmed cases in New York State.

Hospitalization numbers are down – at 16,000 down from  hovering around 18,000, then 17,000 and emergency rooms have fewer people in them.

But sobering news on the other hand happy days are not here again. We still have about 2,000 people yesterday who were new admissions to a hospital or new COVID diagnoses. That is still an overwhelming number every day – 2,000 new. If it wasn’t for the relative context that we’ve been in this would be devastating news – 2,000 people coming into the hospital system or testing positive. And if you notice 2,000, we’re not at the peak but this is where we were just about in late March when it started to go up. So we’re not at the plaza tower anymore but was still not in a good position. 

“The worst news is still tragic news – number of deaths 540. It’s not as high as it was but still 540 people died yesterday. 540 people, 540 families. 504 in hospitals, 36 in nursing homes. Nursing homes are the single biggest fear in all of this – vulnerable people in one place. It is the feeding frenzy for this virus despite everything we can do in the best efforts of people working in those nursing homes who are doing just a fantastic job.”

The worst projections have never been hit precisely because of the lockdown and social distancing, and Cuomo’s concern about reopening too fast, is that it could reignite the infection rate.

“The tension on reopening is how fast can you reopen and what can you reopen without raising that infection rate so you go right back to where we were overwhelming the hospitals? The infection rate now is one person infects .9 other people. You can’t infect .9 but it’s basically one person is infecting one person. A tad less – and I don’t even know if it’s a tad less because I don’t even know that the statistics are that accurate frankly. 

“So let’s say one person now infects one person. That’s where we are now. When that is happening the virus is basically stable. Where we were was one person was infecting 1.4 people and that’s when you have outbreak widespread epidemic. We brought it down from 1.4 to .9. How did you do that? Those were the New York Pause policies. Close down business, close down schools, everybody has to social distance, everybody has to take precautions, masks, et cetera. But it worked and we went from 1.4 to .9. Wuhan says at one point they got down to .3 which is where you really start to see the numbers drop. But that’s where we are. 

“The tension is when you start to open business you start to have gatherings, you put people on a bus, you put people on the subway, you put people in a retail store. Then you’re going to see more infections. You see that infection rate rise and then you’re going to be back to where we were. So how do you gauge this, right? How do you calibrate it?

“That is all about the testing. And you have a very tight window. You’re at .9 now. You can only go up to 1.2 before you see those hospitalization numbers start taking off again. You’re talking about a very, very tight window that you have to calibrate and this is all without precedent so how do you actually do that intelligently? Well, you have to test and testing informs the calibration.”

Testing let’s you determine who has the virus and can infect others, but then you need a veritable army of people as tracing investigators, to trace all their contacts for people who might have become infected and new carriers.

“Tracing requires an army. Literally an army. You would need thousands of people who just trace in the State of New York because any one person then leads to 10, 20 possible people who were infected. You have to trace all through those people. You find the positive person, you isolate them. The trick with testing is not that we don’t know how to do it. We’ve done it better in this state than almost any other state, almost any other country. It’s bringing this up to scale. These are private sector companies that are doing this. We have done a very good job in testing. The state has played a pivotal role in testing.”

Testing and tracing is not only critical to stop the spread of the disease, but to alleviate the anxieties and fears of workers and consumers alike. It does little good to reopen businesses if workers are too fearful to work, or people are too fearful to go out and shop. And just as a governor cannot shut down the economy or effectively issue stay-at-home orders if people refuse to comply, Cuomo has said, government cannot simply order the reopening of the economy, without people having confidence and trust in their government.

But testing and tracing on the scale that New York State, with a population of 19 million, requires federal assistance – especially to acquire the necessary chemical reagents. Cuomo said that in this phase of the pandemic, competing with every other state and the federal government for the scarce resources, much of which needs to come from China, will repeat  the EBay-like fiasco of trying to acquire PPE and ventilators and bidding up the prices and disrupting expeditious acquisition. Also, it will be intensely expensive.

“We need funding from the federal government. I get that we have to fund airlines, small businesses. I agree a hundred percent, but you also have to fund state governments. And by the way, when you fund the state government, you’re not funding a private business. So you don’t have an issue of should government really be giving tax dollars to this private entity. When you fund the state government you just are funding a state government to perform the functions you want us to perform, which is the reopening function. I get it. I’ll do it. But I need funding. And when you fund a state government, you’re funding small businesses anyway, and you’re funding hospitals anyway, and you’re funding schools anyway. And you know, the Republican doctrine used to be limited government and states’ rights. I’m a good distribution mechanism to small businesses and hospitals and schools because I know what’s going on in the state. But if you want to us reopen, we need funding.”

Cuomo added that this is no time for politics.

“The emotion in this country is as high as I can recall, people are frustrated, we’re anxious, scared, we’re angry. We’ve never been through this before and on every level this is a terrible experience. It’s disorienting, it threatens you to your core. It makes you reflect on your whole life and it really has — it’s mentally very difficult, it’s emotionally difficult, economically, it’s disastrous. I mean the market goes down. Your retirement funds go down. You’re not getting a paycheck. It is as tumultuous at times as we have ever seen. But in the midst of this, there is no time for politics.

“How does the situation get worse, it gets worse quickly? If you politicize all that emotion. We cannot go there. That’s why I work so hard when anyone raises any political agenda to me. I work so hard to distance myself from it. I’m not running for anything. I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to be governor of the state of New York until the people kick me out and then I’m going to go spend time with my family and that’s that.

“So, I have no political agenda and I’ve stayed a hundred miles away from politics, just so people know that there is no possibility of a political distortion here. Because it’s no time for politics and look if you have partisan divisions splitting this nation now it’s going to make it worse.”

Cuomo made no specific reference to Trump calling him out to “spend more time ‘doing’ and less time ‘complaining’” or his tweets, viewed as a call to arms to protesters in Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia to “Liberate”.

Of the 236,732 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:

CountyTotal PositiveNew Positive
St. Lawrence982


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NYS Accepts Ventilators from China, Oregon; expands testing; will Graduate Med Students Early to Fight COVID-19 With Apex Still More Than Week Away

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo at coronavirus press briefing: “We also have to be smarter from what we went through. How do you make the economy more resilient? What happens when something like this happens again? And something like this will happen again.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with 10,841 additional cases, bringing the statewide total to 113,704 and the apex still a week or more away, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that 1,000 ventilators have been donated to New York by the Joseph and Clara Tsai Foundation. The Joseph and Clara Tsai Foundation and the Jack Ma Foundation have also donated one million surgical masks, one million KN95 masks and more than 100,000 pairs of goggles to the state. The Chinese government and Ambassador Huang Ping, Chinese Consul General, have facilitated these donations. The ventilators arrived at JFK Airport today. 

The National Basketball Association is also contributing one million surgical masks for New York’s essential workers in collaboration with the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and China’s New York Consul General Huang Ping. 

Additionally, Oregon Governor Kate Brown has offered to provide New York with 140 ventilators from Oregon’s stockpile. 

Governor Cuomo will also issue an Executive Order allowing medical students that are slated to graduate to begin practicing immediately to help with the state’s surge health care force. To date, 85,000 health professionals, including 22,000 out-of-state individuals, have signed up to volunteer as part of the state’s surge healthcare force during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

“This pandemic has been stressing our nation on every level and we are doing everything in our power to prepare for the fight that will come at the apex,” Governor Cuomo said.”Ventilators remain our greatest challenge, and we have received a generous donation of 1,000 ventilators from the Joseph and Clara Tsai Foundation and the Chinese government, as well as 140 ventilators from Oregon – and these ventilators will save lives. This is a painful, disorienting experience, but we will get through it together and we will all be the better for it.”

Governor Cuomo commented, “Anyway, it all comes back to China. New York has been shopping in China. We’re not really China experts, here. International relations is not what we do on a daily basis. I’ve been to China before when I was HUD secretary, I did a trade mission with China. So, I have a basic understanding, but we went to the Asia Society to help us navigate China. I asked the White House to help us navigate China. I spoke to the ambassador and we got really good news today. That the Chinese government is going to facilitate a donation of 1,000 ventilators that will come in to JFK today. I want to thank Joe Tsai and Clara Tsai and Jack Ma from Alibaba, and the Nets, but I’m not stating a preference, for their donation. That’s going to be very helpful and I want to thank Ambassador Huang very much for his help in making all of this happen because this is a big deal. It’s going to make a significant difference for us.”

About the state of Oregon’s contribution, he said, “The state of Oregon contacted us and is going to send 140 ventilators, which is, I tell you, just astonishing and unexpected. I want to thank Governor Brown, I want to thank all of the people in the state of Oregon for their thoughtfulness. Again, this was unsolicited. But the 140 ventilators will make a difference. I was thinking about it, on behalf of New York and what it means for our – first it was a kind gesture. I know Governor Brown and she is a kind person, but it’s also smart from the point of view of Oregon. Why? Because we’re all in the same battle and the battle is stopping the spread of the virus, right?

“Look at what they did in China. It was in the Wuhan province. First order of business was contain the virus in Wuhan. Why? Because you want to contain the enemy. That’s always the first step. Oregon, we’re dealing with it now, we don’t stop the spread in New York, it continues. And if you look at the projections, Oregon could have a significant problem towards May. Our problem is now. So it’s also smart from Oregon’s self-interest. They see the fire spreading. Stop the fire where it is before it gets to my home. That was the Wuhan province…

“The State of Oregon has lent us 140 ventilators. It was kind, it was smart, stop the virus here. It’s better for the state of Oregon, it’s better for the nation. Their curve comes after ours. We’ll return their 140 ventilators, and there’s never been a discussion, but frankly I know New Yorkers and I know New Yorkers’ generosity. We will turn it double fold, because that’s who we are and that’s what we believe. So, stop the fire in New York, kind, generous, also smart.”

On Wednesday, Governor Cuomo announced that New York-based Regeneron Pharmaceuticals is creating 500,000 test kits for the State at no charge amid a nationwide shortage of test kits and swabs. The first batch of test kits was delivered to the State on Monday and the State will receive an ongoing delivery of 25,000 kits per day. Additionally, Corning has donated 100,000 tubes and provided an additional 500,000 tubes to the State at reduced cost and expedited delivery, and Puritan has sold medical swabs to the State. As of Wednesday, the State has tested 220,880 individuals.

“In this war, we must plan forward for the next battle. Meaning, we have been behind from day one. This virus has been ahead of us from day one. You don’t win a war that way. The next battle is the apex. The next battle is on the top of the mountain. See that curve? You see a curve? I see a mountain. The next battle will happen at the top of that mountain. That’s where it is going to be joined. And that’s where the enemy either overwhelms our healthcare system, or we are able to handle the onslaught of the enemy at the top of that mountain. And that’s what we’re planning for every day.

“But I want to offer you a different perspective that I’m starting to think about and I think we all should start to think about.

“As a society, beyond just this immediate situation, we should start looking forward to understand how this experience is going to change us, or how it should change us, because this is going to be transformative. It is going to be transformative on a personal basis, on a social basis, on a systems basis. We’re never going to be the same again. We’re not going to forget what happened here.

“The fear that we have, the anxiety that we have, that’s not just going to go away. When do we get back to normal? I don’t think we get back to normal. I think we get back, or we get to a new normal. Right? Like we’re seeing in so many facets of society right now. So we will be at a different place.

“Our challenge is to make sure that transformation and that change is positive and not negative. Let’s make sure we’re taking the positive lesson and not the negative lesson…

“We also have to be smarter from what we went through. How do you make the economy more resilient? What happens when something like this happens again? And something like this will happen again. ‘Oh, no, this is a once in a lifetime, never again.’ Something like this will happen again. We’re seeing it in the environment. We’re seeing it with floods, we’re seeing it with hurricanes. Something like this will happen again. You can’t just turn off the economy like a light switch.

“How do governments work together? You can’t figure it out on the fly – what the federal government does, what the state government does, what the local governments do. Figure it out before. Learn the lessons from this. Telemedicine, and tele-education. We have closed the schools. Well why weren’t we ready with a tele-education system? Why weren’t we better with telemedicine? Why didn’t we have the capacity to have that’s lines on people coming in to give the same basic diagnosis and the same basic advice? Why don’t we have medical supplies made in this country? Why are we shopping in china for basic medical supplies? Why don’t we gear our medical research to these types of threats and challenges, which we know are on the horizon? We know these viruses are changing. We know they mutate. Why don’t we get ahead of it?

“You still have to run society. Let’s talk about first responder capacity. We now have first responders who are getting sick, and the workforce is dropping. That was inevitable, right? That was going to happen. What’s the backup to that situation? And let’s talk about societal stability, and engagement at times of crisis. You can’t just tell everyone, ‘go home and lock your doors and sit on your couch and order takeout,’ for the foreseeable future. That’s not who we are. It’s not even a mental health issue. It’s just, it’s a personal health issue. It’s how we relate to one another. We’re not built to be isolated for long periods of time and not have human contact. So how do we deal with that?

“And these are the types of questions that we have to start to think through. But not today. That is the next challenge, I believe. And that is what we’re going to have to think about soon. But for now, one crisis at a time, as they say. And we are planning to handle with the current crisis, preparing for the battle on the mount, which is what we are doing every day. And that’s what we are doing. And not only are we doing it, but we have to succeed at it. You know?

“Government process is very good at saying, ‘well, we’re trying. We’re working on this. We’re doing our best. We’re doing our best.’ Winston Churchill, “it is no use saying we’re doing our best. You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.” Tad harsh goes with that expression, which I think you could say, tad harsh. Handsome, but a tad harsh, but it’s true. And that’s what I say to my team every day. This is beyond best efforts. This is beyond, “I’m working very hard.” We have to get this done. We have succeed. We have to find a way. We have to make it happen, because too much is at stake.”

Finally, the Governor confirmed 10,841 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 113,704 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 113,704 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:

CountyTotal PositiveNew Positive
St. Lawrence529