NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York continues to grow.

There are now 22 statewide, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. That includes eight new cases in Westchester, each with mild or no symptoms; Two in New York City that have resulted in hospitalizations; And a 42-year-old man who has been hospitalized on Long Island.

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Officials said Thursday there are 18 confirmed cases in Westchester, all linked to the New Rochelle attorney, who is hospitalized. All the other cases are self-quarantined at home. The attorney, who had an underlying respiratory issue, is improving, as are all the patients, Cuomo said.

The governor said the fact that the number of positive patients is increasing should not upset or alarm people or make them anxious. He said it is a result of expanded testing.

Watch: Gov. Andrew Cuomo Gives Update On Coronavirus 

“The number has to go up if you continue to test. The number can’t go down. We’re not going to detect fewer cases than yesterday. The number has to go up. That’s why we’re testing,” Cuomo said. “Most informed sources say you will see a significant spread of this virus through the population. The most important point is, all of this, ‘So what? So what? What does it mean?’ And that is the most relevant question. The so what? Eighty percent of the people who will get it will self resolve, may never even know they had it, like the flu. Some mild symptoms, you go through your life and it resolves. Twenty percent will get ill, require hospitalization. The people who are in the vulnerable population: Senior citizens, immune compromised, people with underlying illnesses. What am I worried about as governor? I’m worried about undue fear and anxiety.”

Cuomo added he was concerned about nursing homes, senior care facilities, or places where seniors congregate.

“Which is the same as it would be for a normal flu. Who does the flu normally affect? Seniors, immune compromised, people with underlying illnesses. So those are the facts. Those are the inarguable facts. Not opinions, those are facts,” Cuomo said. “And when you know the facts, this daily mania of the number’s going up, the number’s going up, I’m afraid, I’m afraid. You know the facts, it’s reassuring, because on these facts there is no reason for undue anxiety.”


The positive test results have prompted closures of some schools and synagogues, but more out of an abundance of caution. Several schools are closed for cleaning, including all schools in the Mount Vernon and Hastings-On-Hudson school districts in Westchester.

This comes after two students and their family in Mount Vernon and a parent in Hastings-On-Hudson self-quarantined because of possible exposure to coronavirus.

As for those who wonder if the spike will level off in warmer months?

“Factually, we don’t know if this virus will dissipate in the summer. Different opinions, but nobody knows,” Cuomo said.

New York State is now activating an emergency operations center in Albany to monitor and respond to the coronavirus outbreak. There will be two outposts in Westchester County – in Hawthorne and New Rochelle.

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The new cases in New York City include a man in his 40s and woman in her 80s. Both are critically ill due in part to “substantial preexisting conditions,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. The man’s preexisting condition was related to smoking and vaping and the woman’s was related to her age, the mayor said. They are hospitalized in the ICU at hospitals in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Disease detectives are tracking down who’s been in contact with both patients, making sure they’re isolated and tested immediately.

“Neither patient has a connection to travel nor any of the other local individuals diagnosed with COVID-19,” de Blasio wrote on Twitter. “We are going to see more cases like this as community transmission becomes more common. We want New Yorkers to be prepared and vigilant, not alarmed.”

De Blasio said so far 26 people in New York City who have been tested have had their results come back negative. He added COVID-19 is less transmittable than the flu, citing the World Health Organization.

De Blasio asked all New Yorkers who’ve recently returned from Iran, China, Italy, South Korea and Japan to self-isolate for 14 days. City workers – specifically first responders, health care workers and educators – could be required to get a coronavirus test under a new order, de Blasio said. Anyone of those who refuses testing, if required by the Health Commissioner, must comply with a quarantine and could face disciplinary action.

“To ensure we are able to test as many people as possible, we urgently need the CDC to increase our supply of COVID-19 test kits and expedite the approval of any testing approaches developed by private companies,” de Blasio wrote. “Our single greatest challenge is the lack of fast federal action to increase testing capacity — without that, we cannot beat this epidemic back.”

Right now, there are only 1,000 available test kits in New York City, health commissioner Oxiris Barbot revealed Thursday.

“We need the CDC to send more test kits because we anticipate we’re gonna burn through these,” she said.

“We need the ability to test as many people as possible as quickly as possible. We cannot do that without the help of the federal government, period,” de Blasio said. “We need the FDA to speed up approval of the test developed by private companies … We need to get to the point where we can do hundreds a day every day, maybe even more at some point, and we’re not there yet.”

Watch: Bill de Blasio, NYC Officials Give Update On Coronavirus

Federal health officials say there should be enough coronavirus tests sent to public labs this week to cover about 400,000 people, which falls far short of demand.

“We don’t have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward,” Vice President Mike Pence said.

President Donald Trump brushed off questions from reporters about the lack of test kits Thursday.

“I think we’re in an emergency situation where we need to cut through bureaucracy to help get tests to market in a way that’s safe, accurate, reliable, but really meets the demands that we’re seeing in community,” Barbot said.

Barbot is hoping there will be some commercial lab capacity as soon as next week.

De Blasio said there are a total of four patients in New York City, including the 50-year-old Westchester County man being treated at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

“On the four people, the ones who were previously tested, two of them are doing better. So in terms of folks coming through this OK, we’re seeing, obviously, of people getting tested, get care immediately, get isolated, the vast majority of people are going to come through OK,” de Blasio said. “The bottom line is test the most people possible who are pertinent. Stay ahead of the situation. Get people immediately isolated that need to be isolated. Get them care.”

All New York City public schools are being deep cleaned twice a week as part of a new prevention protocol.

“We are taking the same decisive steps in every case to shut transmission down: isolate and test each suspected case, trace close contacts, and isolate and test them as well,” de Blasio said.

Watch: Gov. Cuomo, Long Island Officials Discuss Coronavirus Cases

Long Island now has its first confirmed case: A 42-year-old Nassau County man who is hospitalized, but improving. Health officials say he also did not travel or have contact with other people who’ve tested positive.

“The patient’s close contacts have already been advised to isolate themselves,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.

Another two patients are presumed to have tested positive in New Jersey. Those cases is awaiting official confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Thursday, the Senate passed an $8 billion coronavirus funding package, which the president is expected to sign.