ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that trend line of coronavirus cases is improving, but reopening the economy and a “new normal” in society won’t be possible until there’s a massive increase in testing.
Total hospitalizations have dipped a little, though are still more than 18,000. ICU admissions and intubations are also down.
“The good news is – great news, in my opinion – is we can control the spread. That’s great news,” Cuomo said. “But we still have about 2,000 people a day who are new diagnosis coming into the hospital system. So it is still a serious public health issue.”
There were an additional 752 deaths yesterday.
“The health care situation has stabilized. The fears of overwhelming the health care system has not happened, thanks to the phenomenal work of our front line workers, thanks to all the additional capacity that the hospital system created,” Cuomo said. “People are still getting infected, but we have the infection spread down to a manageable number. We’ve accomplished that.”
Cuomo said the state has to “build a bridge from where we are to the reopening of economy,” which he said will be a “new normal.”
“It’s over when we have a vaccine. It’s over when people know I’m 100% safe and I don’t have to worry about this,” Cuomo said. A vaccine is expected in 12-18 months, and New York is “all in” to help expedite that process.
“You need a place to test it in large numbers, think of New York,” he said.
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Cuomo issued an executive order requiring New Yorkers to wear a mask or face covering in public anytime social distancing isn’t possible. He cited mass transit or busy sidewalks as examples.
For example, if you are riding on public transit where it is impossible to maintain social distancing, or walking on a busy sidewalk, you must wear a face covering like a bandana or a mask.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) April 15, 2020
“Don’t infect me. You don’t have a right to infect me,” Cuomo said. “You’re walking down the street, you’re walking down the street alone, great. You’re now at an intersection and there are people in the intersection and you’re gonna be in proximity to other people, put the mask on.”
The measure will also extend to subways and buses, according to MTA Chairman Pat Foye.
“Well, the MTA has been urging our customers to wear masks, bandanas, scarves,” he said. “We have distributed about 2.8 million pairs of gloves and about 750,000 masks to our employees since the pandemic started on March 1.”
But for some city officials, there is a real issue about getting the word to everyone.
“Are you confident the message is going to get out?” CBS2’s Dick Brennan asked Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
“No, I am not confident. If we follow the traditional path of how we have communicated around coronavirus, we really have communicated to the elite and top percentage of the city and not on the ground,” Adams said.
Adams says his office is handing out 10,000 masks to NYCHA residents over the next few days because that’s what they need.
“We were giving out food and we were giving out masks. The people said to us, we don’t want the food, we want the masks,” he said.
The NYPD tweeted a photo officers distributing masks to the homeless.
And what about private businesses?
Mayor Bill de Blasio says stores should require customers wear face coverings or not be allowed in.
When asked if the NYPD would enforce that, the mayor said, “The store has every right to enforce that rule … If there’s any problem with that, of course the NYPD would help.”
The requirement starts 8 p.m. Friday. The governor says local governments will enforce it and there could be civil penalties.
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Meanwhile, Cuomo said the reopening will be in phases based on public health safety and the infection rate.
“When you relax that social distancing, you could very well see an increase in the infection rate,” he said.
The key will be a whole new industry of testing, he said.
Cuomo said New York has done more than 500,000 tests so far, and points out New York state has 19 million people. That reveals the scale of the challenge ahead on mass testing.
“We can’t do it yet. That is the unvarnished truth,” Cuomo said. “I’m telling you, we can’t do it without federal support.”
Cuomo said the challenge of organizing mass testing, assembling the equipment, providing the staffing, and so forth amounted to a challenge only solveable with federal involvement.
Cuomo again said called on the federal government to provide financial aid to states to help shore up devastated budgets.