NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should immediately allow local labs with the correct equipment and kits to begin testing for positive coronavirus cases due to the federal government’s lack of keeping up with outbreak demands.
“We don’t have the testing capacity we need,” he said. “It’s essential to containment. Just do the approval and do it today.”
His goal is to minimize the fear surrounding the coronavirus outbreak and demand more action from federal agencies, a day after Saturday’s state of emergency declaration that allowed certain funds to be unlocked and health positions to be filled faster.
As of Sunday evening, there were a total of 105 confirmed cases in New York State:
- Westchester County: 82 cases
- New York City: 12 cases
- Nassau County: 5 cases
- Rockland County: 2 cases
- Saratoga County: 2 cases
- Suffolk County: 1 case
- Ulster County: 1 case
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he believes New York City is about to get a big reality check. All city school trips have been canceled and there is no non-essential international travel for city workers.
“I think we could be well be at 100 cases or hundreds of cases over the next two or three weeks. We have to be prepared for that reality,” de Blasio said.
The mayor said the city will be offering relief packages for small businesses struggling due to the virus outbreak. Businesses with less than five employees qualify for grants of up to $6,000 to retain their employees.
“For businesses under 100 employees that can document a decrease in sales up to 25% they will be eligible for no-interest loans, and those loans will be up to the dollar figure of $75,000,” de Blasio said.
The New Rochelle lawyer at the center of the outbreak in Westchester is in critical condition, his wife says in a Facebook post published Friday. Adina Lewis Garbuz says she’s hopeful her husband, Lawrence, will make a full recovery.
Garbuz also writes that no one else in her family has been sick, except for a slight cough. Garbuz and her two children also tested positive for the virus, and are under mandatory self-quarantine.
On Sunday night, the Scarsdale School District in Westchester announced that it was closing all of its schools out of an abundance of caution through March 18 for “continued cleaning, progress monitoring, and social-distancing,” after a faculty member tested positive for the virus. This comes in the wake of the Somers School District closing its schools through Monday after a parent tested positive.
Also, Columbia University announced it was suspending classes through Tuesday and would shift to remote classes Wednesday and lasting through the week before spring break begins.
Also, the Brearly School, an all girls private school on the Upper East Side, announced it would close for a week starting Monday. School officials said a parent may have been exposed. That parent has been tested, but results could take several days.
In Rockland County, officials are tracking exposure to a catering service after two workers tested positive for coronavirus, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported.
— Tony Aiello (@AielloTV) March 8, 2020
Connecticut officials announced Sunday the first confirmed coronavirus case, a 40- to 50-year-old patient from Wilton, Conn., now being treated at Danbury Hospital.
New Jersey’s tally of positive coronavirus patients rose Sunday to six, adding a 70-year-old healthcare worker from Teaneck, N.J. in stable condition in St. Joseph’s intensive care unit, and a 32-year-old man from West New York being treated at Hackensack Medical Center.
Back in New York, Cuomo said he wants the federal government to make more private labs available for testing and identifying positive infection cases so they can quickly be isolated.
“Please CDC, approve these private labs and approve automated testing today,” said Cuomo. “There is no reason to delay. You have misinformed the public about your testing capacity, you’ve caused confusion about your testing capacity — the president say one thing, the vice president says something else.”
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Speaking from Northwell Health Imaging at the Center for Advanced Medicine in Nassau County, Cuomo stressed the virus is most concerning for the elderly and those with underlining health issues.
“It has automated testing, which expands exponentially the number of tests that can be done,” Cuomo said. “CDC has not authorized the use of this lab, which is just outrageous and ludicrous.”
Most others with the virus are never hospitalized. The governor encouraged businesses to have a more generous sick leave policy and allow employees to work from home to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Other steps to slow the spread of coronavirus include not shaking hands and avoiding crowded mass transit vehicles, such as waiting for a next subway train if a packed train pulls into a station.
On Long Island, Northwell Health got the green light to start administering tests. They’ll roll out a soft activation Sunday, something typically done in the event of a terror attack or major weather event, reports CBS2’s Tara Jakeway.
“(There are) two reasons we are trying to contain the virus.” said Cuomo. “We don’t want to do massive close-downs, massive quarantines and we don’t want members of the vulnerable population getting sick.”
“We will also be fielding information from the local hospitals, so they should let us know of their census increase, that their emergency rooms are starting to fill up with people saying they’re not feeling well,” said Commissioner Steven Morelli of the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management.
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Since there are not enough testing kits to provide one to every person who wants one, medical officials set up a screening requirement to prioritize cases.
“We are going to be very careful to make sure the people who qualify, who fit the picture and who can help us prevent the spread of disease,” said Nassau County Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein on Saturday.
Last week Cuomo outlined priorities for who in New York would be tested for coronavirus first and going forward:
- Those who have been in close proximity to a person who has already tested positive
- People who have traveled to a country with level 2 or 3 health notice from the CDC and are experiencing symptoms
- People in quarantine and develop symptoms while in quarantine
- A seriously ill individual who has not tested positive for other viruses
When patients do test positive, new federal funding will give local municipalities more options.
In California, passengers on the Carnival Panorama cruise ship in Long Beach disembarked Sunday after a medical situation forced them to stay on board for a day. The delay was the result of a passenger getting sick on the cruise who was subsequently tested for the coronavirus, with negative results.
Elsewhere in the nation, Washington DC saw its first positive case of coronavirus confirmed in a 50-year-old man who traveled throughout the capital before becoming detected.