Cuomo: Unity, No Reopening Yet, Testing Totally Inadequate

By Janet Ekstract

NEW YORK (TURKISH JOURNAL) – New York’s Governor Cuomo in his Saturday briefing, reiterated that the average of new coronavirus diagnosis in one day on April 17 was 2,000. The governor said: “We’re not at the plateau anymore but we’re not in a good position.”  He said that nursing homes are still the “single biggest fear in this – it’s a feeding frenzy for this virus.” As in previous briefings, Cuomo reiterated that “testing is the single most important topic for us to understand.” Cuomo repeated what he has often said, that playing politics is anathema during this crisis. The governor explained:  “In the midst of this, there is no time for politics. It gets worse quickly if you politicize all that emotion.” 

Contrary to the White House Coronavirus Task Force and in contrast to what President Trump is saying, the verdict from all governors and medical personnel is that there is definitely a serious, dire shortage of tests. The governor said: “Not enough tests are being performed anywhere in the state – true across the board, that’s why we need to bring testing to scale across the board.” Cuomo explained: “We’re working with private sector and our own lab on antibody testing – a letter was sent to the FDA about working with a specific company – we’re waiting for an answer.”

The governor reexplained how testing works to monitor the rate of infection by using a tracing system. He added: “The tension on reopening is how fast can you reopen and how can you keep the infeciton rate down so you don’t go back to where we were.” Cuomo explained that when one person is infecting one person – the virus infection rate is more stablized. We went from 1.4 to .9 in terms of infections and he pointed out how tracing is necessary which means tracing all the contacts who were in contact with the person who tested positive. The biggest issue Cuomo said is: “Tracing requires an army of people to trace.” He added: “The trick with testing is that we don’t know how to do it, it’s bringing this up to scale and these are private sector companies that are doing this.”

Cuomo highlighted that New York has had great success in ramping up testing and said that a former virus hot spot, New Rochelle saw intense testing when it was a hot spot and now it’s much better. He said: “We did 500,000 tests in a month but it’s only a fraction of what you need.” The governor explained the reason it’s difficult to obtain tests and the reason delays occur is because only 30 large, private companies make testing equipment and they all have their own individual tests. He said those 30 companies have been selling their machines to local laboratories. They sell their own specific tests to local labs because it’s the only one that works with that specific machine. Cuomo reiterated: “300 local labs – everytime the lab runs a test I have to have the special equipment for that specific test type. When you use a swab you must test it with reagents. There are different reagents according to the different test types. It gets very complicated very quickly.”

The other problem, Cuomo related is that there’s “very little uniformity” among the tests. He commented that real capacity is in the private labs. To bring testing up to  scale, Cuomo said:  “We called the top 50 producing labs in the state and asked what it takes to double output – most of them are saying they can’t get the reagents.” Cuomo added that it’s their manufacturer who made the machine and is the one who is responsible for giving labs the reagents. The governor made it clear that this is a no-win situation as it stands because either the reagents aren’t available or the manufacturers say the federal government is telling them who to distribute to. In addition, manufacturers are regulated by the federal government.

Governor Cuomo said: “We need two things from the federal government: help on the supply chain, we need partnership. You also have to fund the state governments.” Cuomo added that funding state governments includes financing them to fund them to “perform the functions we need to perform”, such as monetizing state education and a whole host of other state functions.  The National Governor’s Association has already submitted a proposal for the funding they say is necessary, requesting $500B.

On reopening, the governor emphasized: “I’m trying to reopen as a region because I think that’s better – when you do individual strategies you have different problems in different states. Different numbers would suggest a different strategy, people are mobile.” He added: “We are barely stabilizing our public health system now. The first priority is life and death and public health.” He also commented: “We’re not at a point where we’re going to be reopening anything immediately.” Different numbers would suggest a different strategy, people are mobile.”

The governor explained that people can learn from this crisis: “The emotion in this country is as high as I can recall. On every level this is a terrible experience, it”s disorienting, it threatens you to your core, it makes you reflect on your own life.”  Cuomo stressed unity and cooperation. “Let’s just stay together and work it through, that’s why we’re called the United States and the unity is key.”

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