Cuomo: “We’re In Uncharted Territory” – The ‘New Normal’ Looks Different

By Janet Ekstract

NEW YORK (TURKISH JOURNAL) – New York’s Governor Cuomo in his Saturday daily briefing said because of the coronavirus pandemic “we’re in uncharted waters.” Cuomo explained that the best way to get through this time is not panicking or getting emotional. He added: “Let’s stick to the data, let’s stick to the facts.” The governor pointed out that using data to determine outcomes is the wise route and as he has often reiterated the ‘new normal’ will look very different from what everyone is used to.

Cuomo explained that New York still hasn’t reached its target for the lowest rate of infection but that antibody testing has been ramped up along with diagnostic testing. Cuomo said: “We completed the country’s largest antibody survey to develop a baseline of infection rate.” He added that over 15,000 people were tested and out of those 12.3 percent tested positive which is a decrease he said, but New York is still not in the position he wants to see it in for a reopening. The governor highlighted that though the hospitalization and intubation rates have decreased dramatically – at least 900 people daily still test positive for COVID-19 in New York City. He also said testing is done every four to five days because “we want to get those data points as quickly as we can.”  Cuomo said: “The number of deaths are still not dropping at the rate we want.” He added that the Bronx is higher in positive cases than the other boroughs. The daily number of new infections is still “an unacceptably high rate,” he emphasized.

To step into New York’s ‘new normal’ – the governor stressed that essential workers especially transit workers take priority and that all subways, subway stations, buses and bus stations will be disinfected 24 hours a day. Massive testing will be available for all transit workers and essential workers, Cuomo emphasized. “The essential workers who have kept this society functioning have done an extraordinary job.” He added: “We want people to know that the subways and buses are safe.” He highlighted that for transit workers, they need to know they can come to work and feel safe. Pat Foye, a top MTA official said: “We have data of the 10-11,000 of our customers who travel from 1-5 am.” He said that the MTA has reached out to the AFL-CIO, the Hospital Association, grocery store unions and other organizations whose essential workers use the subway. Another MTA official, Sarah Feinberg added: “We will do our best to tailor service to their needs. We will priortize bus services.” She said that bus services that match subway schedules will have a website in the next couple of days. Feinberg also mentioned that “for-hire vehicles are an option – we’re going to make sure we take care of essential workers.” She also said MTA has a team of 900 cleaners and said that riders will see cleaners doing disinfection work during the day. She stressed that cleaning will happen 24-hours a day and that some cars will be cleaned more than once. The governor also lauded the transit cleaning crews saying they’ll be wearing hazmat suits and that they have a solid plan in place. Foye emphasized that Mayor de Blasio “affirmed robust police presence at stations that makes this closure possible.” The governor added: “Everything we’re doing here has never been done before, but we’ll do it.” We’re called upon to do things we’ve never done before. Either we rise to the occasion or we fail, we’re not about failing.” The governor also lauded the transit cleaning crews saying they’ll be wearing hazmat suits and that they have a solid plan in place.

Meanwhile, New York’s ‘new normal’ includes a number of new steps being taken to combat the pandemic and ease financial burdens on New Yorkers most in need. On May 2, the distribution of 7 million masks to poor communities and nursing homes began. Cuomo reiterated his $25M commitment to foodbanks across the state using New York sourced products as well as the  commitment to making sure no one is evicted because they can’t pay rent. Cuomo had signed an executive order so no one can be evicted for non-payment of rent which he said is valid through June, to be revisited at that time. He reminded all philanthropic organizations that the foodbank project needs funding since state funds are drained.

Cuomo commented:“This is a highly politicized time,” and it was true before COVID. “The worst thing that could happen is for politics to collide with what we do,” he said.  Cuomo added:“For myself, I’ve made it clear that I have no political agenda whatsoever.” I disagree with people who say open the economy when there’s a health risk, I’m not going to put dollar signs over people’s lives.” He also stressed: “I believe the mask should be enforced” because as the governor has often reiterated, “no one has the right to infect someone else.”  Cuomo concluded: “I believe in New Yorkers, I’m a life-long New Yorker, I’m so impresed with what they’ve done. That curve didn’t drop. New Yorkers grabbed that curve, pulled it down.” Cuomo added: “People will come outside, just respect the social distancing and wear the mask, New Yorkers are doing it ,they’re doing it all across the state.”

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