A Department of Health employee trains New York Army National Guard soldiers at a drive-through coronavirus testing center in New Rochelle, New York, on March 14, 2020.
Sgt. Amouris Coss/U.S. Army National Guard/Handout/Reuters
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday said he’ll decide in a week whether to extend the business and school closures and stay-at-home orders — collectively referred to as the NY PAUSE program — past May 15.
Cuomo reiterated that school closures and reopenings were his decision to make after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced earlier this month that schools within the city would remain closed until the Fall.
Reopening schools and the wider New York economy is a careful balancing act, though deaths and hospitalizations from the coronavirus continue to fall.
“If you say, well, we’re done, can’t stay in the house anymore, let’s just reopen, just start business tomorrow, let’s go – what happens?” Cuomo said from Albany. “All the progress we made is gone and all experts or virtually all experts will say not only does the virus spread increase but it increases to a higher point than we had increased the first time.”
Here are the other key takeaways from Cuomo’s Friday press conference:
Coronavirus deaths on Thursday fell to 422, the lowest since April 1. The three-day averages of hospital admissions and intubations fell, building on trends from previous days. There are now 16,162 coronavirus deaths and 14,200 hospitalizations across the state.
Still, statewide cases jumped to 271,590 on Thursday.
Cuomo warned of the dangers of a second wave of the virus. “The game is not over,” Cuomo said. “Which means the game could be just at halftime so let’s make sure we’re learning the lessons of what has happened thus far.”
He also said to “bank on it” that a pandemic will happen again. “Let’s not put our heads in the sand.”
Cuomo said the US acted too late in trying to halt the spread of the virus. By the time the Trump Administration halted flights from Europe in March, “the horse had already left the barn.”
“We acted two months after the China outbreak,” Cuomo said. “How can you expect that when you act two months after the outbreak in China the virus was only in China waiting for us to act?”
“So what is the lesson? An outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere,” Cuomo said, pointing to research that shows flights from Europe may have infected more than 10,000 New Yorkers with the coronavirus in February alone.
Cuomo issued an executive order allowing New Yorkers to vote absentee in the state’s June 23 primary. Polling places will remain open.
New York is also looking at options to freeze rent in May, after de Blasio called for it earlier on Friday.
Cuomo again attacked Sen. Mitch McConnell over the Kentucky senator’s suggestion to have states declare bankruptcy. New York is projecting a $61 billion budget shortfall as a result of the pandemic through 2024.
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