With New York now having more than 100 COVID-19 cases than any other state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for the Army Corps of Engineers to quickly convert military basesand SUNY college dormitories into temporary medical centers in anticipation of an expected rise in hospitalizations of novel coronavirus patients.
In a news conference Sunday afternoon, March 15, Cuomo outlined the five main steps New York State is taking on its own in an effort to contain the outbreak. (See first image above.)
"Our goal is to slow the spread of the virus to a rate that the healthcare system can manage, and we're doing that through aggressive testing and strong social distancing protocols," Cuomo said. "But the anticipated wave of new cases threatens to crash our healthcare system, and we need national action from the federal government to address the quickly-evolving situation now."
Otherwise, Cuomo said, New York and other hard-hit states won't have enough resources to handle an expected surge in cases requiring hospitalizations."You can't leave it to the states," Cuomo said. "I can't do it. I don't have the resources or capacity. I'm an aggressive governor. I push very hard. But there's no way we can manage this."
Cuomo is calling on the federal government to use the Army Corps of Engineers to leverage its expertise, equipment and people power to retrofit and equip existing facilities - such as military bases or college dormitories - to serve as temporary medical centers.
"Use them to come in right now," Cuomo said. "Identity existing facilities that can be retrofitted and do it."
Cuomo said he made the request in a letter to Trump.
"I sent the president a letter," he said. "That is a very rare occasion for me.
"This is the state with the highest number of cases. There's no place for politics. I don't give a darn about Democrat or Republican. This is about Americans protecting Americans' lives. I will work in full partnership with the president 100 percent.
"I know it's a dramatic action. It may be an unprecedented action. This is an unprecedented time. Great challenges require great leaders and great solutions. That's what this is."
Cuomo instructed nonessential state employees in New York City, Westchester, Nassau, Suffolk and Rockland - current hotspot areas - to work from home for two weeks.
Cuomo also directed DMV to move to appointment only to limit person-to-person contact and revert to regular hours rather than the extended hours the state implemented in recent weeks to help reduce lines.
Cuomo asked New York State Chief Judge Janet DiFiore to develop a plan to reduce density in the court system, including limiting nonessential proceedings, without disrupting criminal justice system.
Cuomo also tasked SUNY Empire State College President Jim Malatras with working with counties to develop contingency plans in preparation for school closings, including how to provide meals to food-insecure children and ensuring families have adequate access to childcare.
At the news conference, Cuomo confirmed 69 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total to 729.
That's 122 cases more than the next highest state: Washington, which has 607 cases. (See second image above.)
Of those who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:
- Albany County: 8 (3 new)
- Broome County: 1
- Delaware County: 1
- Dutchess County: 7 (3 new)
- Erie County: 3
- Greene County: 2 (2 new)
- Herkimer County: 1
- Monroe County: 2
- Montgomery County: 1 (1 new)
- Nassau County: 98 (5 new)
- New York City: 329 (29 new)
- Orange County: 6
- Putnam County: 2 (2 new)
- Rockland County: 13
- Saratoga County: 3
- Schenectady County: 2
- Suffolk County: 47 (6 new)
- Tioga County: 1
- Tompkins County: 1
- Ulster County: 5
- Westchester County: 196 (18 new)
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