NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York is now “on pause,” but Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the state also needs to start taking measures to save the economy.
This comes as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases reached 20,875 statewide, including 12,305 in New York City, as well as 2,894 in Westchester, 2,442 in Nassau and 1,458 in Suffolk counties.
In an effort to slow the spread, the governor ordered non-essential businesses to close and have their workers stay home starting at 8 p.m. Sunday.
“We’re talking about public health, we’re talking about isolation, we’re talking about protecting lives,” Cuomo said Monday. “There also has to be a parallel track that talks about economic viability.”
“I expected that maybe in a few weeks, but for him to be already thinking that discussing that, coming up with a plan to get consumers to consume and get the economy rolling again,” said Mark Mazzotta of Amore Restaurant.
The governor said he takes full responsibility for “shutting off the economy, in terms of essential workers,” but acknowledged it can’t go on forever.
Approaching White Plains Hospital, you immediately see the extent to which treating COVID-19 patients is dominating operations, reports CBS2’s Tony Aiello.
Even as Cuomo detailed efforts to create more ICU and hospital beds, he also spoke about New York getting approval for an experimental treatment: A serum made from antibodies of those who’ve recovered will be given to ill patients.
“Now with the antibodies in, it should fight those viruses, it should be able to recognize the COVID-19 virus and destroy it so it can’t replicate and make a person more ill,” said neurosurgeon Dr. Ezriel Kornel. “There’s a very good possibility that it will work.”
Dr. Kornel has COVID-19 himself and is recovering at home.
Officials are working to determine whether people who contracted the virus and then self-resolved are now immune and can return to work. They’re also looking into whether everyone should be allowed back at work, or just young people at first.
“You turned off the engine quickly. How do you now start, or begin to restart, or plan to restart, that economic engine?” said Cuomo.
The governor said his office has “taken every action that government can take” in order to reduce density and require social distancing. He also said the state is conducting more testing per capita than anywhere else in the world.
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He also ordered all hospitals to increase their capacity by 50%, ideally by 100%.
The governor thanked President Donald Trump for delivering some assistance over the weekend, but said the federal government’s “ad-hoc” response is forcing him to compete with other states for supplies.
“Fund the need,” he said. “Proportionately, in absolute terms, New York has by far the greatest need.”
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Cuomo applauded New York manufacturers for stepping up, along with health care workers who have come out of retirement.
He also said the Food and Drug Administration has expedited approval for a trial drug that’s being developed by the state health department for patients in serious condition.
“It takes the plasma from a person who has been infected with the virus, processes the plasma, and injects the anti-bodies into a person who is sick,” he explained. “There have been tests that show when a person is injected with the anti-bodies, that then stimulates and promotes their immune system against that disease.”
In his closing remarks, Cuomo said he hopes to see something positive come from this crisis.
“We were not ready to deal with this, and other situations will happen,” he said. “Let’s at least learn from this to be prepared for the next situation, as dramatic as this one has been.”
He also said life will be quieter, with less noise and more free time.
“You can do some of those things that you haven’t done that you kept saying, ‘Oh, I’d love to be able to.’ Well, now you can,” he said. “You have more time with family. And yes, I get that family in cramped quarters can be difficult. But it’s also the most precious commodity.”
The governor previously warned the situation could last for six to even nine months.