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A M Reid
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), held a press conference Saturday on the coronavirus outbreak and COVID-19 pandemic, where he addressed topics relating to testing protocol and his handling of the situation and plans.
Cuomo declared that there are now more than 10,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York state alone. He explained that this spike was due to more tests being performed, as the testing capacity has swiftly increased since the process became decentralized.
Cuomo had previously called on President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to decentralize the testing process and give states greater authority. Last week, the Trump administration provided permission for New York state to authorize local labs to conduct testing. Since this action, the testing capacity in New York has increased to 6,000 per day, a drastic difference from before, where only around 3,000 tests had been conducted since the first case.
“I spoke to the president and the vice president, and I said, ‘Decentralize the testing, let the states do it,’” Cuomo said. “I have 200 labs. I can mobilize quickly. Let us do the tests. They agreed. We’re doing more tests than any state. So, for example, we’ve done 45,000 tests. California has done 23,000. Washington has done 23,000.”
“We are testing more than any state in the United States of America. We are testing more per capita than China and Korea,” he added.
Cuomo emphasized that it is a great accomplishment and a promising development, as a larger testing capacity will mean a better chance at controlling and slowing the spread of the virus.
“We were all starting at the same place and for us to come up to scale that quickly and get to a scale where we’re doing more than anyone else, that was great,” he noted.
Cuomo also made clear that although some citizens have been questioning if he has been tested, he has not and will not be – unless he meets the testing protocol criteria.
“I’ve not been exposed to anyone who is positive. I don’t have a fever, I don’t have any symptoms, and I don’t want to waste a test,” he said.
When asked if it was a concern that two major hospitals in Albany, NY, were telling the public that even if they showed symptoms, in order to save tests for health care workers, they would not be able to test them, Cuomo dismissed this. He argued that they were doing everything they possibly could to test those who fit the criteria.
“The hospital — we are testing by the same protocol all across the state,” Cuomo explained. “If you meet that protocol, then you get a test. And it’s on the website. If you have been exposed to someone positive, if you are showing symptoms, if you meet that protocol, you get a test…So yes, no state — no country can give everybody a test who wants a test.”
He then advised that even if it was possible, testing everyone should not be the goal.
“This is not just I want a test to make myself feel better. It won’t even make you feel better because okay you didn’t have — you tested negative at 10:00 AM, but then you went and you talked to six people, maybe you’re positive again. You’ll never solve that neurosis, right. That anxiety.”
Discussing the current approach and measures, Cuomo disclosed that he had secured two million N95 respirator masks, with one million for New York City.
New York City is the coronavirus hot zone; around 6,200 out of the 10,000 confirmed cases in New York have been recorded in the city.
“The medical community has told me over and over again, the masks are the priority for the COVID-19. So we have made progress on masks,” Cuomo said. “One million masks won’t get us through the crisis, but it will make a significant contribution to New York City’s mask issue.”
Cuomo also claimed the state is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assemble four field hospitals, which will have a capacity for up to 1,000 infected patients.
“The field hospitals are done by the FEMA. They are equipped hospitals that do 250 people each. They’re basically a tent configuration, with beds, with medical equipment, with staff. And they come 250-bed capacities. We requested four of those,” he remarked.
On Friday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced that the Federal Emergency Mangement Agency (FEMA) have issued a Major Disaster Declaration for New York, making $42 billion in aid accessible from the Disaster Relief Fund.
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