By Janet Ekstract
NEW YORK (TURKISH JOURNAL) – Governor Cuomo’s Monday daily briefing emphasized that instead of saying ‘reopen’ we should be saying ‘reimagine’ New York City as a much better place to be because of the coronavirus crisis. He said: “The question should be let’s use this situation, this crisis, this time to actually learn the lessons value from the reflections. Let’s reimagine what we want society to be.” Cuomo explained that this is a prime opportunity to create better technology, better transport, better healthcare and better social equality – overall to create a much better system in the city. His aim he said is to “raise the bar,” in all areas to get the state reopened.
To that end, the governor announced he is establishing a regional reimagine task force led by local officials, that will begin focusing on downstate New York which has been the most affected area. Cuomo said he is assembling the “best experts” to move change forward. Meanwhile, Cuomo said the concept is to “do no harm” – meaning “don’t let that infection rate go up.” The governor said emergency rooms are still packed and that new COVID cases presenting at hospitals are flat compared to yesterday’s numbers. The next question is “How long are we on the plateau?,” Cuomo said. The second question is “How fast does the number come down and how fast does it come down to a lower number so we have a margin of error?” Cuomo said the number of lives lost is still horrifically high. Cuomo reiterated that: “Infection rate is a function of contact.”
The governor announced that currently, the “state rule is now everything is closed.” Cuomo emphasized that “no one can do anything counter to that.” The governor explained that he’s working on a specific regional plan with our other states. Cuomo cautioned that if everyone is not on the same page, “it looks confused” between a state, town or county and he stressed “it doesn’t look good for anyone.” He added: “Testing requires everyone to work together and said on Monday, the largest antibody testing ever, begins across New York.
Multilevel coordination is required on all fronts, Cuomo explained. He said that the federal government says not to worry about receiving state funds, but he said: “I’m worried because they keep saying this over and over again. I fight for New Yorkers.” The governor warned not to forget teachers, firefighters, police and nursing home staff because he said without federal money to run the state, salaries can’t get paid. Cuomo added: Those are the people I fund with my budget. You shouldn’t make us choose between those on the frontline.” The governor said the frontline responders are the ones who are “getting us through,” so “I propose hazard pay for the frontline workers. They’re the ones carrying us through this crisis – the equity and fairness of what has happened – any reasonable person would say we should right this wrong.” Cuomo emphasized that people of color are suffering the most because a large portion work in New York’s childcare sector. He added that two-thirds of those frontline workers are women and one-third are from low income areas. He said the “disparity” continues when we see a higher infection rate between African Americans and brown Americans. Cuomo said if it were up to him he would: “Pay them what they deserve, give them a 50 percent bonus for hazard pay and I would do that now.”
The Trump administration left out the states in the current stimulus package as Cuomo has often spoken about. In addition, Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told CNN’s Jake Tapper that Trump wanted to get money to small businesses and other companies before he deals with the next stimulus package that will purportedly be for funding states. Schumer acknowledged that Democrats have been pushing for state funding. He also said testing is crucial to reopening the nation as a whole. Schumer echoed what Cuomo has been saying that without federal help states won’t have funding for essential workers and services. The New York governor also stressed exactly the same and said he wants the federal government to help with the supply chain issues since without reagents and swabs, labs can’t do any tests.
Cuomo said: “We have a need and a responsibility to get assistance to those in low income housing.” He added that since many people are concentrated in one place with a higher apartment occupancy then the virus spreads. To prevent this, the governor said an initial pilot program for antibody testing begins this week with the New York City Housing Authority Projects. Cuomo explained they will see how well it works and then expand the program according to results. He said New York will distribute 500,000 cloth masks and 10,000 hand sanitizers to low income areas in the city.
The governor explained that as far as testing goes, the state has 300 public labs and said: “It’s my job to coordinate those 300 labs – which lab should work in a certain region. How many tests can I get done in total and how can I allocate those tests, how many antibody tests can I get from those labs.” He said that’s the states leading but reiterated that what states will run into is that labs can only run as many tests as the national manufacturer will be able to get. The issue is reagents required to run the tests generally come from China, none are produced in the U.S. he explained in Sunday’s briefing. Also, in Sunday’s briefing, Cuomo identified this situation as a huge problem in testing because the federal government has not invoked the Defense Production Act in full.
Meanwhile, former CDC Director Tom Freiden told CNN on Monday, that it’s “absolutely the responsibility” of the federal government to handle the coordination of testing nationwide. Governors are calling for more testing before reopening the economy. Dr. Birx says it’s unclear how long immunity to coronavirus will last once people have recovered. As Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has repeatedly emphasized, testing must include tracing so viral spread can be contained. Dr. Celine Gounder, Infectious Diseases Specialist and Epidemiologist says many antibody tests don’t give accurate results. She added: “Testing tells you where the disease has been, where the disease is going,” which Gounder said is absolutely crucial to doing testing correctly so states can reopen safely. Cuomo has emphasized testing, tracing and isolating repeatedly, stating that it’s crucial to implement to get New York City, the nation’s largest economic hub, up and running. The New York governor said: “We’re going to set the bar high and we’re going to reimagine.”