NEW YORK (TURKISH JOURNAL) – By Janet Ekstract – In his Thursday briefing, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reiterated that a majority of those who died in the coronavirus outbreak are African-Americans and Latinos. According to the data, these two groups comprise 62 percent of COVID-19 deaths. As the governor has repeatedly said, testing is key to a downward curve but that testing is still not adequate. As U.S. House Democrat from Houston,Texas Sheila Lee Jackson told CNN: “There needs to be mass free testing, we have to tighten the belt, sacrifice and spend the money.” CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta said “Testing needs to be applied uniformly.” Cuomo echoed those sentiments: “All of these testing protocols exist but none of them are at scale. We need millions of them.” He added that New York state is reaching out and working with private sector companies who can bring the tests to scale. His plan, he said. is to work regionally with New Jersey and Connecticut on this.
Cuomo related that the first 18 days of the NY PAUSE progam is working. He said: “Luckily the current trend, if it continues, we’re at about 18,000 people hospitalized right now.” Though he did share that the sobering news is that on Wednesday, there were a record 799 deaths. Cuomo commented: “You’re talking about 799 lives, it’s gotten to the point that we’re going to bring in additional funeral directors for those who have passed.” The governor said his motto from day one has been: “Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.” He added: “All the statisticians said we don’t know how effective you can be at closing down and social distancing.” Cuomo said: “This is the big IF. But on a more positive note, he said: “We’re flattening the curve by what we’re doing and we’re flattening the curve so far.” Cuomo explained: “This is all a direct consequence to our actions, if we stop acting the way we’re acting, you will see the projection numbers go up.” The governor also emphasized that the curve must stay “flattened” because “we don’t have an option.” He added that New York is not prepared for a more dire coronavirus scenario. Cuomo said there are 90,000 beds available currently but that number will not cover a “very severe scenario.” He mentioned that there is a plan to get up to 110,000 beds.”
The governor stated “What do we do? We move forward and do what we have to do.” He warned that no one should “underestimate this virus,” and added, “we lost more lives yesterday than we have to date.” Cuomo sadly shared:”We’ve lost over 7,000 lives to this virus, that is so tragic, so breathtaking.” He explained that he is starting a new organization called NY Loves to organize charities and not-for-profits to donate to combat the pandemic. Cuomo said: “Let’s learn how and why this virus kills – what can we do about the high death rate among African American and Latino communities.” To that end, the governor said his plan is opening more testing sites in those communities in conjunction with SUNY Albany and the New York Health Department. His view is consistent: “Rapid testing and testing is going to be the bridge to the new economy.” He also said that the donation of convalescent plasma from those people who recovered from the virus is crucial in helping patients. Cuomo said: “We’re starting a blood drive and asking those who have recovered from the virus to contact us.” He added that one of the most essential requirements in this pandemic is to have the “right laws, the right procedures.” He cited the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic which he explained hit in “three waves,” and said that Wuhan and Singapore are now seeing a second wave of infection. He said: “There is evidence to show that this virus can mutate and change,” which is why we must be extra vigilant he emphasized.
As far as opening the economy, Cuomo said before that can happen, “you have to address the damage done.” He stressed: “People are living in poverty. We’re doing everything we can on the unemployment benefits.” The governor called out the Trump administration when he said: “We need the federal government to be responsible.” He said the federal government needs “to do things that help.” Cuomo commented: “The past legislation that was enacted, we were told would bring 6 billion dollars to healthcare funding. It was actually 1.3 billion dollars to New York.” He said that he expressed the urgency for additional funding to Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand. Cuomo admonished the White House administration when he said: “This is no time for politics.”
In reference to additional money for state and local governments, the governor commented: “We’ve never seen the financial devastation seen to the state budget, the way it’s done here. This is more devastating for the New York economy and my budget than 9/11 by far.” The governor explained that because there’s a revenue shortfall of about 15 billion dollars, rather than having employees lose their jobs, he is delaying the 2 percent raises for 90 days. He added: “We’ve been asking the federal government to provide us with more resources to deal with the shortfall. I can’t just sit here and say I’m officially operating the state when we don’t have money to pay the bills that I’m incurring right now.” Cuomo said: “Let’s see if the federal government is going to do what it said it’s going to do.”
One of the major issues facing New York as well as other states is the inability of many filing for unemployment to actually be able to file. Cumo explained that the reason why people are having trouble getting through to the Department of Labor in New York is because their system crashed due to the hundred fold increase in applications being processed. Cuomo added: “We’re working with Google to come up with an online mechanism. We’re doing everything we can, whenever you sign up, your benefits will be retroactive.” It was also explained that the new procedure would be in place after 7 pm on Thursday and that The Department of Labor will call people back in 72 hours if there’s an issue with their employment benefits application.
Governor Cuomo cautioned: “We have to stay ahead of the virus.” He said that the natural spread of the virus is moving out toward suburban communities like Westchester, Rockland, Nassau and Suffolk. He warned: “This is not the time to relax. You’re not out of the woods, and now is not the time to misunderstand what is happening.” The governor made it clear that if people stop following social distancing policies, there will be many more cases of coronavirus in New York. He reemphasized what has become his mantra: “You stay at home and you save a life.”