New York State will launch this week an aggressive program to test residents for antibodies showing they have been infected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and recovered in a new measure to restart the economy amid more encouraging data.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the announcement at midday on Sunday, April 19 on Long Island at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset after touring the Northwell Health Core Laboratories.
The testing initiative is seen as vital in determining when it is safe for non-essential businesses to reopen and comes as positive signs continue that indicate the state, the nation's epicenter for the pandemic, has past a plateau for the number of cases and hospitalizations.
Current COVID hospitalizations in the state are down to around 16,000 from a high of 18,000. The three-day hospitalization rate is also down. (See first three images above.)
"If the data holds, we are past the high point and on a descent," Cuomo said. "Whether the descent continues depends on what we do."
The 507 COVID deaths on Saturday, April 18 marked the second day the total declined. Of those deaths, 37 were in nursing homes and the rest in hospitals. (See fourth image above.)
At the same time, 1,300 new patients were hospitalized on Saturday after testing positive.
"The recent news is good, but only compared to the (previous) terrible news," Cuomo said. “Don’t get cocky. Don’t get arrogant. This virus has been ahead of us every step of the way.
"This is only halftime in this entire situation. The war is not won.
"We have to keep that beast under control, keep that hospitalization rate down."
Northwell CEO Michael Dowling, who served as state health director during the administration of the late Gov. Mario Cuomo, said Northwell will aim to do 10,000 antibody tests a day starting this week and then double that. New York will continue diagnostic testing.
Cuomo also announced the state will continue working with the federal government to assist with the supply chain and coordinate private labs to ramp up diagnostic testing, another key component of getting people back to work and restarting the economy.
"Any plan to reopen has to be based on data and the data comes from testing," Cuomo said. "Part of how to reopen New York State is determining how many people have been infected."
With New York's number of incubations continuing to decline, Cuomo said the state is ready to transport 400 ventilators to Massachusetts within 24 hours if they are needed. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said Sunday he believes the commonwealth is experiencing its peak for hospitalizations.
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