NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The federal government has approved New York to test for coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.
“This will expedite wait time and improve NY’s ability to more effectively manage the coronavirus situation as it unfolds,” Cuomo wrote on Twitter.
The move comes after New Jersey and Connecticut also had testing in those states approved.
“My concern was, in many ways the first step of this process, and the step that we need to get right and we need to get right immediately, is testing capacity,” Cuomo said. “You want to be able to test people. And you want to be able to get results quickly. And you want to be able to handle the volume of tests that we may be faced with.”
By enabling testing within the state, local patients will know sooner if they have the virus, rather than have to wait for results from the CDC.
“That is a big step forward. We’ll start testing immediately here in New York. So we can handle more tests, more volume, and we can turn them around faster. And we are ready to go and literally we can start testing immediately,” Cuomo said.
“This means we will soon, within the coming week, have the ability to get results back in a matter of hours, not days,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Quick detection is vital to stopping the spread of the virus, and this development will help the experts do their jobs to protect New Yorkers.”
This will expedite wait time and improve NY’s ability to more effectively manage the coronavirus situation as it unfolds.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) February 29, 2020
The news comes as the first U.S. coronavirus death was reported in Washington state. Officials say the victim was a man in his 50s with underlying health conditions. Four other patients are very ill, Trump said. Trump said there are 22 total confirmed coronavirus patients in the U.S.
“Additional cases in the United States are likely, but healthy individuals should be able to fully recover, and we think that will be a statement we can make with great surety now that we’ve gotten familiar with this problem,” President Donald Trump said. “They should be able to recover should they contract the virus. So healthy people, if you’re healthy, you’ll probably go through a process and you’ll be fine.”
Trump said his administration has taken “the most aggressive action in modern history to confront this disease.”
The Trump Administration announced additional travel restrictions on Iran, where there is an outbreak, and advised Americans not to travel to specific regions in Italy and South Korea that are most affected by the coronavirus.
“Let me be very clear, and I’m sure the physicians who are up here will reflect this very well. The average American does not need to go out and buy a mask,” said Vice President Mike Pence.
Pence called the response an “all hands on deck” effort.
As of Saturday, there are no suspected cases of coronavirus in the area.
The New York City Health Department said Saturday that tests came back negative for a New York City resident who recently traveled to Italy and was showing symptoms.
— nycHealthy (@nycHealthy) February 29, 2020
Results for one person in Monmouth County, New Jersey, also came back negative.
The news comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced four presumptive new cases in western states and the stock market has its worst week since 2008.
The CDC said its goal is to have all 50 states testing for coronavirus by the end of next week, but officials with the agency admit they’re worried about a shortage of test kits.
Meanwhile on the West Coast, there is a second person in California who has tested positive for coronavirus and doctors have no idea how it happened. A 65-year-old patient had no recent travel history and no known contact with someone who was sick.
“This is a potential community transmission case because we do not have an evidence source of how she was infected,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
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The deadly virus is also impacting travel. In Italy, where the outbreak is the biggest outside of Asia, popular tourist destinations like Milan and Venice are ghost towns.
American Airlines announced Saturday that it is suspending operations to and from Milan from John F. Kennedy International Airport until April 25 “due to the reduction in demand.”
The University of Connecticut has notified 88 students studying in Italy and one in South Korea to return to the U.S. due to fears of the coronavirus. It’s also canceling all official travel to Italy.
The university currently has more than 300 students participating in overseas academic programs in 29 countries.
Last week, Seton Hall and Villanova also canceled their study abroad programs. New York University and Syracuse have also closed their campuses in Florence and are helping their students to return home.
Due to safety concerns about the virus, CBS even temporarily suspended production of its popular show “The Amazing Race.” All contestants and staff are headed home.
When an infected person sneezes on a plane, it can spread to up to 10 other passengers, but travel experts aren’t sounding the alarm.
“Most people think travel in the U.S. is OK, travel to Europe is OK, it changes hourly though,” said travel expert Pauline Frommer.
Back in New York, anything that kills germs is flying off store shelves. At Pasteur Pharmacy in Midtown, hand sanitizers and gloves are selling fast, along with masks.
“Can’t keep them on the shelf,” said Leon Tarasenko. “We’ve sold over 2,000 masks in the last, I would say within the week.”