NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Various measures in the battle against the coronavirus outbreak continue to be taken by leaders all around the Tri-State Area.
Mayor Bill de Blasio held a late afternoon press conference on Sunday and revealed that the NYPD will start fining those who do not practice social distancing between $250 and $500.
Earlier, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner was at Pier 90, where the USNS Comfort is scheduled to dock around 11 a.m. on Monday. In addition, a field hospital is being built in Central Park. This is all being done as area hospitals struggle to treat the growing number of cases.
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The Comfort can hold 1,000 beds and will be in New York to take the backfill of patients with other issues.
A 68-bed emergency field hospital is being constructed near Fifth Avenue and 99th Street in Central Park by Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian organization based in North Carolina that also helped in Italy, Rozner reported.
“It’s going up now in the east meadow and should be operational by Tuesday,” de Blasio said.
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Thousands of masks and gowns were donated to city hospitals by the Chinese-American Independent Practice Association this weekend. However, de Blasio told CNN on Sunday there are only enough supplies to last a week, until April 5, and hospitals need hundreds of ventilators.
“I’ve made a direct request to the president and to the military to find us immediately more military medical personnel and get them here by next Sunday, but also to start figuring out how to get civilian medical personnel from around the country here,” de Blasio said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the Javits Center field hospital will be ready this week, but will only be utilized when it’s needed, likely at the apex of the outbreak, which is approaching at a slower rate than before.
“Now it’s doubling every six days, so you have almost almost a dichotomy. The doubling rate is slowing and that is good news, but the number of cases are still going up,” Cuomo said.
Meanwhile, “New York pause,” the closing of non-essential business and the ban on gatherings has been extended until at least April 15, which means no churches will be open for Easter and families who do not live together should not be gathering for Passover seders.
“It’s hard, but on the flip side I say look at what happened in New Rochelle. Those gatherings that brought people together were religious gatherings, and brought hundreds of people together, which was beautiful, but it made many many people ill,” Cuomo said. “Density is the enemy here.”
“By the way, what we call ‘patient zero’ in Westchester, New Rochelle, who was very sick for a long time, he’s actually gone home. He’s out of the hospital,” the governor added.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a domestic travel advisory, urging residents from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to refrain from non-essential travel for the next 14 days. It’s a step back from President Donald Trump’s proposal to impose a quarantine on the three states. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said the advisory is welcomed.
“We are de facto staying at home as a state. There are 9 million of us. You’re absolutely right, the numbers have gone up dramatically, but we expected this. We told our folks it would happen. Part of it is due to community spread, but a big part of it is we’ve opened up testing aggressively,” Murphy said.
On CNN, Mayor de Blasio was asked if he’s to blame for the virus rapidly spreading, by telling New Yorkers to “go about their lives,” even two weeks ago on March 13.
“We all were working, everybody was working with the information we had and trying, of course, to avoid panic, and at that point for all of us trying to keep, not only protect lives, but keep the economy and the livelihoods together,” de Blasio said.
The mayor added he also warned at the time that testing was limited and believes if the country had more access to tests we would be in a different reality.
Cuomo was asked if he was late to respond to the crisis. He said New York was one of the first states to take action.
And speaking of new action, the governor said the state Department of Health has developed a less invasive saliva and nasal swab test that will limit exposure to healthcare workers. It will be used as soon as next week.