New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has criticized the CDC over coronavirus testing delays while warning the public against ‘unwarranted’ panic.
At a press conference on Sunday morning, Cuomo announced that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York had jumped from 89 to 105 overnight after new test results came in.
The governor said that officials are working hard to identify new cases but have been greatly hindered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), saying it is ‘outrageous and ludicrous’ that the agency has not authorized private labs to conduct automated tests.
‘CDC, wake up. Let the states test. Let private labs test. Let’s increase as quickly possible our testing capacity so we identify the positive people, so we can isolate them,’ he said.
New York currently has seven private labs that could begin running automated tests immediately – processing as many as 2,000 samples per day, Cuomo said.
That’s a significant improvement on the current rate of roughly 100 per day with manual tests.
He also took a shot at Donald Trump over the president’s remarks last week that ‘anyone who wants a test gets a test’.
‘We can’t say to people in this country or this state anyone who wants a test can have a test. It’s just not true,’ Cuomo said. ‘That’s what causes the panic and fear.’
He said that the public panic has become a much bigger problem than the virus itself, noting that the majority of people who contract the virus will experience bad flu symptoms but will recover without hospitalization.
‘There’s a level of fear here that is not connected to the facts. There is more fear and anxiety than the facts justify,’ he said.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo slammed the CDC over coronavirus testing delays during a press conference on Sunday morning (pictured)
Cuomo said that public panic over the coronavirus has become a bigger problem than the virus itself. Shoppers are seen stocking up at a Whole Foods in New York City on Saturday
Cuomo also took a shot at Donald Trump over the president’s remarks last week that ‘anyone who wants a test gets a test’. Trump is pictured at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday night
During the press conference Cuomo said that he expects the number of confirmed cases in New York to rise as more test results come in, but insisted that isn’t a bad thing.
‘I would get nervous if the number didn’t go up,’ he said.
‘We want to find the positives. The more positives we find, the better. The more tests we run, the better. The more positive people we find, the better we can do the containment.’
He continued: ‘CDC – let’s move. Authorize the states to authorize private labs. Why you wouldn’t makes absolutely no sense.
‘To New Yorkers: we understand the facts. Keep this in perspective.
‘If you get the virus, you will recover, you most likely won’t go to the hospital. The only people we really have to worry about are vulnerable populations.
‘I know there’s a whole frenzy about it – the facts do not justify the frenzy. Period.
‘The biggest problem we have in this situation is the fear. Not the virus. The virus we can handle. And the fear is just unwarranted.’
Trump also sought to ease public anxieties on Sunday morning when he took to Twitter with a vague update about the state of the outbreak.
‘We have a perfectly coordinated and fine tuned plan at the White House for our attack on CoronaVirus,’ the president tweeted.
‘ We moved VERY early to close borders to certain areas, which was a Godsend. V.P. is doing a great job. The Fake News Media is doing everything possible to make us look bad. Sad!’
There were 516 confirmed coronavirus cases and 21 deaths in the U.S. as of Sunday evening
Trump also sought to ease public anxieties on Sunday morning when he took to Twitter with a vague update about the state of the outbreak
Cuomo declared a state of emergency on Saturday after revealing that an Uber driver had tested positive. That case raised concerns that some 40 staff members at the Queens hospital where the man was tested may have been exposed as a result.
Speaking to Fox News on Sunday morning, the governor said the emergency declaration ‘sounds more alarming than it is’.
‘It is actually an administrative active so the state can move a little faster governmentally. We need to purchase supplies, equipment, we need to hire staff,’ he said.
NEW YORK STATE CORONAVIRUS CASES
WESTCHESTER COUNTY: 70
NEW YORK CITY: 11
NASSAU COUNTY: 4
ROCKLAND COUNTY: 2
SARATOGA COUNTY: 2
He said wants people to stay calm so he’s ‘telling them what I need to tell them to keep them calm’.
‘If they know the facts, they will be calm,’ Cuomo said. ‘Yes, we are testing aggressively. Yes, the number of positive tests is going up. Yes, a large number of people will be infected.
‘What we are really trying to do here is avoid the massive disruption of closing everything down for two weeks the way China did and the way Italy is doing.
‘We are trying to protect the vulnerable populations for whom this coronavirus could really be dangerous,’ he added, specifying that senior citizens and people who are immuno-compromised are most at risk.
The number of cases in New York has more than doubled since Friday, jumping from 44 to 105.
The majority of the cases are based in Westchester, where a Manhattan attorney was first struck down with the virus last week.
A Westchester County boarding school with no confirmed cases of the coronavirus announced on Sunday that it will close for the rest of the school year amid fears over the strain.
The Keio Academy of New York will close its campus in Purchase to protect its international student body from the virus, the Rockland/Westchester Journal News reported.
Three Jewish day schools in Westchester County have also closed temporarily.
There are seven new cases in New York City – taking the total to 11.
Disturbingly, there are also signs of wider spread, with two cases now confirmed in Saratoga County in the northeast of the state – hundreds of miles away from any other cases.
There are still thousands of New York state residents awaiting the return of coronavirus test results.
By declaring a state of emergency, Cuomo said that he is able to free up $30million that can be used for testing and the purchase of protective gear for healthcare workers.
‘I’m not urging calm,’ Cuomo told reporters on Saturday. ‘I’m urging reality. I’m urging a factual response as opposed to an emotional response… that people understand the information and not the hype.’
He added that, at present, there is no need to cancel large gatherings in any part of the state.
Meanwhile, a Queens man who drives for taxi and ride-hailing services including Uber has now tested positive for coronavirus after showing up to St John’s Episcopal Hospital in the borough with flu-like symptoms on Tuesday.
The driver, 33, went home and returned later when his symptoms worsened, officials said.
Tests came back Friday night confirming he had coronavirus.
The situation has prompted 40 doctors, nurses and hospital staff to go into self-quarantine amid fears they have now been exposed. The man is now in isolation at the hospital.
Investigators are now trying to piece together who he might have driven around in a bid to contain a possible spread.
The man was licensed to drive passengers around New York City, but not in the state’s five boroughs or from city airports, a spokesman for Uber told The Times.
‘The hospital will need to replace those people temporarily. They will need money to do that. They need supplies. We need to keep the health care up and running,’ Councilman Donovan Richards Jr, told The New York Times.
An anxious man wears a medical mask on a New York City train on Saturday, as coronavirus cases rapidly rise in the area
A woman dressed as Cookie Monster from Sesame Street wears a protective mask whilst working in Times Square on Sunday
One anxious New Yorker wasn’t taking any chances on Saturday as he made his way through a subway station in Midtown Manhattan
Meanwhile, more than 4,000 people in the state have been urged to self-quarantine to prevent the spread of the disease.
Most of those are New York City residents who have returned from the coronavirus hotspots of China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea within the past 14 days.
Cuomo said he has been informed that many people are not following the self-quarantine requirements.
‘When we say you are on precautionary quarantine, that is a serious situation. We expect to act in good faith and comply with it. If you do not comply with it, there are other measures that we could take,’ Cuomo threatened.
He also warned vendors who are price-gouging on products such as hand sanitizer and surgical masks that their businesses could be shut down.
The governor declared that some stores were selling sanitizer for $80.
The daughter of one of the New York City cases confirmed on Friday has spoken out, blasting health officials after her mother and another woman were repeatedly turned away from having tests, despite showing symptoms for more than two weeks.
Amanda, 31, told Bloomberg that her mother and another New York City woman, who are in their 60s and 70s, fell ill after they returned from a cruise around Egypt in February.
Despite showing symptoms for coronavirus and one of the women’s conditions deteriorating to a pneumonia-like illness, officials from the New York City health department dismissed their pleas to be tested, telling them they risked infecting others if they traveled to a healthcare facility and that if they did test positive, there was nothing that could be done anyway, the frustrated daughter claims.
It then emerged this week that another passenger on the cruise ship tested positive for the virus.
The two women were finally tested and results came back positive on Friday – two weeks after they first fell ill and three days after the positive diagnosis of the other passenger.
Questions are now being asked over whether health officials have risked more lives and helped to fuel the outbreak by refusing to test sick individuals.
New York is now the third state to declare a state of emergency over coronavirus cases, following Washington and California.
Nationwide, more than 500 people in 33 states have tested positive for coronavirus, and 21 people have died.
The state of emergency was declared in New York as:
- More than 109,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus across the world and 3,800 have died;
- Two new deaths were reported at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington, bringing the total number of deaths associated with the nursing home to 21
- 21 people on board a cruise ship floating off the coast of San Francisco tested positive to coronavirus
- Stanford University cancelled all in-person classes for the remainder of winter semester after a faculty member tested positive to coronavirus
- Two elderly people died in relation to the illness in Florida on Friday – the first deaths on the East Coast
- The NBA prepares its stars to play games without fans in attendance
- Apple told all 12,000 employees at its headquarters Apple Park to remain home Friday, following similar guidance from Facebook and Microsoft
- City officials in Austin announced that South by South West festival is canceled after dozens of stars and companies dropped out
WHAT IT MEANS TO GO INTO SELF-ISOLATION DURING THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK
As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread, people who have been exposed to the virus or to sick patients have been asked to go into self-isolation.
But what exactly does that mean?
A former chief medical officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains to DailyMail.com what self-isolation is and what you should be doing while cooped up at home.
IS SELF-ISOLATION THE SAME AS BEING IN QUARANTINE?
In a word: no. Those who undergo self-isolation do so voluntarily and have to make arrangements themselves while they’re at home.
While quarantines are typically voluntary, sometimes they can be mandatory, such as the federal quarantine for US citizens evacuated from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.
People under quarantine are not sick, but they are are separated fro the general public to see if they become sick.
Both self-isolation and quarantine differ from isolation, which separates those who are sick from the general public until they are cured or treated.
WHO NEEDS TO SELF-ISOLATE?
‘People who should go into self-isolation are not sick but they’ve had a credible exposure,’ said Dr Robert Amler, former chief medical officer for the CDC and dean of New York Medical College.
‘There’s reason to believe they may have been exposed. And we wait for the incubation period, in this case about 14 days, to see if they become sick.’
This includes a few groups of people such as anyone awaiting CDC test results or anyone who has been in contact with someone waiting for test results.
Anyone who has traveled to a foreign country where the outbreak is rampant such as China, Japan, South Korea, Italy and Iran.
WHAT DO I DO IN SELF-ISOLATION?
People under self-isolation are expected to stay home and not go to work or school, or take their children to school.
Dr Amler says that people should try to do as much of their normal activities as they can – such as working from home or doing school work – without physically contacting anyone else.
‘That means staying in your room, trying to have your own bathroom facility if possible, and not sharing plates or utensils with other household members,’ he said.
However, being in self-isolation doesn’t mean that you can’t have contact with the outside world.
‘You can use your TV, your stereo, your phone, FaceTime, go on social media,’ Dr Amler said.
‘Just anything that does not allow you to get [possibly infected] droplets everywhere else.’
CAN I GO OUTSIDE TO GET FOOD, TOILETRIES OR OTHER SUPPLIES?
People under self-isolation are not allowed to leave the premises under any circumstances.
One option is to have family or friends drop off supplies you need. Alternatively, you can use grocers or online retailers to deliver packages.
Dr Amler offers two suggestions, either wear a mask when the person drops off items or wait until they leave before retrieving them.
He says the latter is more ideal because ‘because the person delivering items not enter the air space.’
WHAT DO I DO WITH MY GARBAGE?
Dr Amler says that most people don’t produce huge amounts of garbage by themselves so, if you can wait to take it out, that’s the best option.
‘If there’s no harm in keeping it, that’s the most protective way,’ he said. ‘That way nothing going out your room.’
If that’s not possible, Dr Amler recommends depositing outside of your doorstep until the 14-day isolation period is up.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I FEEL UNWELL WHILE IN SELF-ISOLATION?
The most important thing is to not visit a doctor’s office, a hospital or any other healthcare setting, otherwise you risk infecting others.
Stay home and immediately call your healthcare provider and ask them for advice on what you should do.
‘Alert the authorities so you can be transferred to a hospital to be monitored, and undergo testing,’ Dr Amler said.