By Janet Ekstract
NEW YORK (TURKISH JOURNAL) – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he’s issuing an Executive Order that would make it a law for all New Yorkers to wear face masks in public. In his Wednesday daily briefing, the governor clarified the rule by stating that any public area such as transport, parks, shopping areas and restaurants as well as congested areas – the face mask will be required.
The order is part of a continued plan in New York City to control the virus by social distancing and donning masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE). Cuomo said: “First rule, do no harm. This is a public health crisis. We’re still in the woods and just becaise that number [of hospitalized patients] has plateaued, there’s no reason to go back on what we’re doing.”
When asked what type of coordination the governor has with the city of New York, he said that local governments should do what they think is necessary. Cuomo said he has to coordinate with New Jersey, Connectict and five other states and then with the federal government. As for the city of New York aka rules the mayor sets – Cuomo said: “They can have their own rules but they can’t conflict, state law governs.”
In an interview with MSNBC on Wednesday morning, the governor made it clear when he said: “I’m in this position because the federal government didn’t want to be in this position.” Cuomo is referring to the fact that the federal government has so far failed to provide adequate PPE and mass testing throughout the U.S. Trump stated more than once in his daily briefings that it’s not the federal government’s responsibility. To that, Cuomo replied: “They said we’re not a shipping clerk for the States.” He added: “Yes, you are.” The governor reiterated that no state has the authority to do what the federal government can and should be doing.
On the testing front, Cuomo reported that The New York Department of Health’s state lab developed the antibody test and that as of next week – there will be a capacity of 2,000 antibody tests administered daily. He added that it’s a “fingerprick test so it’s not invasive. He also said he’s asked the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to approve a state test to ramp up the number to 100,000 per day. Right now, Cuomo pointed out “we’ve only done 500,000 tests to date.” A main priority will be antibody testing for first responders and healthcare workers, he added. The governor said to the federal government: “If you want to use New York City as a lab, I’m all in.” He highlighted: “The single best tool to doing this gauging is testing. Test, trace and isolate. It’s doable, it’s just very, very hard to do.”
As both the New York governor and mayor explained – testing depends on funding. As Cuomo said: “States need funding and the past federal legislation left us out. The State’s governments are broke, that’s every governor in the United States.” New York City’s Mayor de Blasio in an interview with CNN on Wednesday said: “We need the testing, the federal government hasn’t provided tests. We’re going to have 50,000 tests by May, we had to do it on our own.” Cuomo related that the National Governor’s Association as well as he, who holds the vice-chairmanship for the organization, wrote a letter to the federal government. Cuomo added that: “We said we need major funding and that has to be the next federal legislation and there can’t be excuses about it.” He said that every governor is now in the same situation and that “we have to be clear on who does what, between the federal government and state government.”
The major issue as the governor repeatedly states is that private sector companies aren’t able to meet the volume of tests needed nationwide. Cuomo commented: “This is an entirely new market. The private sector companies say they can’t increase volume because they don’t have enough machines, chemical agents, swabs.” He said most of the chemical agents needed to do the tests are not manufactured in America. Once again, he stressed: “We need the federal government to be part of this.” He also said that no one is to blame on the testing front, it’s now a matter of how it can be done and how quickly the volume of testing can be increased. He added: “The answer on testing is now what happened on ventilators which is 50 states are competing against each other.”
In order to reopen the economy, Cuomo reiterated that first you test, then you trace the people who were in contact with that person who tested positive and then you isolate those people. But as he said: “That is a massive undertaking, it’s intelligent but it’s massive.” That’s where the federal government must step in and partner with New York, he added. Cuomo explained that there is no tracing mechanism now in New York and that “no one has done it before or to this volume.” The problem is Cuomo said: ‘People are contracting for tests, all the states, the federal government, local governments, cities, counties, towns even private companies are trying to buy tests – why because workers are coming in.”
The governor said: “Actions more than words,” are the key to getting things moving in the right direction to reopen New York. He also emphasized that the NYPD told him that their officers need support since they live downstate but work in the city. They need PPE and testing, especially they need to know if they’ve been infected and they could be spreaders if they don’t know. Make them a priority for the testing that we can do and we can control – that’s the antibody test.
On reopening New York, the governor said: “A phased reopening of the economy as educated by testing, tracing and how do we phase this reopening until we get to a medical vaccine.” The mayor echoed the governor, stating: “If we open up too early, it’s bad. Let’s get this right: Smart shelter in place, smart social distancing to be safe, smart stimulus plan, smart, careful staged reopening.” There are several steps to reopening that Cuomo highlighted: how essential is the business, product or function – what is the risk of infection spread of that business. Businesses will need to redesign their workplace for social distancing, he added. The governor concluded: “That’s how we will inform our economic reopening. We’re being guided by tracing.”
Containing the virus in conjunction with a phased reopening will involve the governor issuing an Executive Order that all people in public must wear a mask with a mouth and nose covering and they must maintain social distancing. Cuomo said especially in congested areas, on transport and generally all public places, the mask should be on. There is currently a fine for this and he said he doesn’t like the idea of penalizing people for not wearing a mask but that containing the virus has been successful using this method.
The governor explained that many people are skeptical about how New York can pull off a reopening and that it’s necessary to be extremely cautious about giving arbitrary dates for when New York City may be up and running again. He reemphasized that President Trump under the 10th amendment to the American Constitution does not have sole authority to order states to open up and that it’s the governors’ decision. When asked what he would do if he was ordered to open New York City, Cuomo said: “If he ordered me to reopen in a way that endangered many people, I wouldn’t do it.” In terms of getting everything accomplished to reopen, Cuomo added: “I know we can do it because we did it very well. We can build a bridge that takes us from today to 18 months because we are bridge builders. We build bridges, that’s what we do in New York.”