Albany

Cuomo: Strategy to relax COVID-19 restrictions must include New Jersey, Connecticut

Gov. Andrew Cuomo Sunday
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo Sunday

Categories: Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News, Saratoga County, Schenectady County

ALBANY — With hospitalization rates stabilizing and coronavirus deaths appearing to have reached a plateau, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it’s still premature to relax stay-at-home orders. 

But any effort to reopen schools, businesses and transportation networks shuttered to stave off the pandemic must be part of a broader collaborative effort with Connecticut and New Jersey, Cuomo said. 

“It’s got to work for the whole region or it won’t work,” Cuomo said during his daily press briefing on Sunday. “We have to have a coordinated approach.”

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He acknowledged crafting a regional strategy will be difficult and will inevitably require compromise. 

“It’s easy to do it alone, except it’s better to do it together,” Cuomo said. 

The governor declined to indicate if schools will reopen before the end of the academic year. 

“I do not know what we’ll be doing in June,” Cuomo said. “If I say schools are closed through June, you’re effectively saying business will be closed until June”

New York Mayor Bill De Blasio on Saturday announced schools in the city will be closed the rest of the year.

But Cuomo contends it’s a state decision. 

The governor defended his administration’s messaging during the crisis. 

“We’ve remained remarkably consistent,” he said. 

Discussion on relaxing the state directives requiring all but essential workers to stay home comes as the net increase in hospitalizations continues to decline, an indication of a possible plateau, Cuomo said.

But both ICU admissions and intubations saw a slight uptick on Saturday over the previous day, which Cuomo said may have been a blip.

The state announced 758 New Yorkers succumbed from the virus on Saturday, slightly lower than 783 deaths on Friday, bringing the total fatalities in the state to 9,385 — more than three times higher than the number of people killed in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Among them was a Saratoga County resident who recently died in New Jersey, making it the county’s sixth confirmed death, county officials announced on Sunday.

“It’s been flattening, but flattening at a terribly high level,” said Cuomo, who appeared at Pathways Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Niskayuna hours earlier to return ventilators donated by the facility for use at downstate hospitals. 

Cuomo reiterated calls for accelerated testing, and criticized the federal stimulus package as inadequate.

He pointed to a report by Kaiser Health News that said medical facilities in New York will only receive $12,000 per patient compared to $300,000 per reported case in states like Nebraska and Minnesota, which haven’t been hit nearly as hard as New York, which is the national epicenter of the outbreak.

Cuomo and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued a joint statement on Saturday calling on the federal government to allocate $500 billion in aid to states battling the virus. 

“Without federal assistance, how does this state economy come back?” Cuomo said. “Not everything has to be an opportunity for pork barrel [spending].”

The governor on Sunday issued an executive order requiring companies to provide employees with face masks for whenever they’re engaging with the public. The order also applies to state agencies.

A second order will expand who can conduct antibody tests

As he stood up to leave, a reporter asked him what he’ll do if he tests positive. 

Cuomo surveyed the room and pointed at the overhead PowerPoint slides. 

“My plan,” he said, “is to do this from home.”

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