Governor Cuomo Favors Reopening but insists on Wherewithal to do it: Federal Funding and Testing

Hospitalizations and deaths from the new coronavirus have decreased in New York over the past few days, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said , April 18

NEW YORK (TIP): In his Coronavirus briefing, Saturday, April 18, New York State  Governor Andrew  underlined the need for federal funding to the State  in order to reopen the State.

Governor Cuomo  said there was a little respite from the  Coronavirus onslaught which hit the State the most in the last couple of days. It appears  the apex has been reached. Giving details, he said, that total coronavirus hospitalizations in New York area  was  16,967, the lowest in nearly two weeks; the high point was 18,825. Looking at the past three days, Cuomo said, a case could be made the state has passed the apex. On Friday, there were 1,915 new coronavirus hospitalizations: down from 2,253 Tuesday.

There were 540 state COVID-19 deaths reported Friday, April 17,  including 36 from nursing homes. The number is down from 630 on Thursday and hit its lowest total this week. Net intubations have also gone down for a sixth straight day, decreasing by 48 from Thursday’s total.

Cuomo said the state needs coordination and partnership from the federal government, in addition to money. Airlines and small businesses have to be funded, Cuomo said, agreeing with federal officials. He said state governments need funding, too, however.

“When you fund a state government, you’re funding a state government to perform the functions you want us to perform, which is the reopening function,” Cuomo said at a news conference. “I get it. I’ll do it. But I need funding. When you fund a state government, you’re funding small businesses anyway. And you’re funding hospitals anyway. And you’re funding schools anyway. The Republican doctrine used to be limited government and states’ rights. I’m a good distribution mechanism to small businesses, hospitals and schools, because I know what’s going on in the state. But if you want us to reopen, we need funding.”

Cuomo said he wants the state to reopen, but it must be done without the infection rate re-rising.

“Everybody wants to reopen,” he said. “You don’t need to hold up a placard saying, ‘We want to reopen.’ Nobody wants to reopen more than me. Nobody wants to get the economy going more than me. Nobody wants to get on with life more than me and everybody else. We’re all in the same boat. We all the same feelings.”

The infection rate has gone down, with NY PAUSE, social distancing and masks being responsible, Cuomo said. Testing will be key in knowing when and how fast to reopen, he said. Testing will reveal positive cases, which can then be traced to those the person who tested positive came in contact with, according to Cuomo. The people who test positive can then be isolated to prevent the spread. Thousands of people would be needed as “tracing investigators” in New York, Cuomo said.

Over the past month, 500,000 tests were done, but Cuomo said  that’s only a fraction of what’s needed. He called for help from the federal government in regard to the testing supply chain, especially when it becomes international.

“The more you test, the more information, the more you can reopen society,” Cuomo said.

On Friday, the federal government sent 1,500,000 cloth masks to the state, Cuomo said, thanking them.

Cuomo dug deeper into what it meant to systematize the testing process in the state. He noted that there are about 30 private companies in the state that manufacture a viable COVID-19 test, all of which are different and require different types of chemical “reagents” to process. These 30 companies are then selling these tests to the 301 labs/hospitals in the state, which can then begin the arduous process of testing everyone in the state. To get an idea of where the state was, Cuomo noted that he had reached out to 50 of the top labs in the state and asked them what it would take to double the testing output. “New York has already tested more people for COVID-19 than any other state or country in the world”,  he said.

The labs all said that in order to begin doubling testing, they would need to have better access to the chemical reagents needed to complete the tests—hence the appeal Cuomo made to the federal government yesterday to secure more reagents from China. Since the federal government also regulates the 30 manufacturers of the test kits, that, Cuomo said, would also have to be eased to scale up testing, and it would also need to start funding New York State to ensure that the proper amount of testing was executed.

Cuomo noted, with obvious dig at President Trump, when he said,  “The Republican doctrine used to be limited government and states’ rights.”

The push for testing comes at a time when Cuomo has regularly noted a flattening of the curve in the state and has begun to map out the early stages of reopening the economy. This, of course, can’t happen just yet and is wholly contingent on getting the infection rate down further. As Cuomo has noted in the past, society at large won’t be able to return to normalcy until there’s a viable vaccine, which will likely take 12-18 months to produce. The infection rate is currently sitting at 0.9 percent, meaning that every person infected with COVID-19 infects a little less than a single person. The fear is, noted Cuomo, if businesses are reopened and large gatherings are allowed prematurely, that infection rate could skyrocket again.

In answer to a question on people  demonstrating for reopening  in some States, Cuomo said that the emotion in the country is as high as he can recall, with the pandemic causing frustration, anxiety, fear and anger. There is no time for politics, however, Cuomo said.

“How does this situation get worse and get worse quickly? If you politicize all that emotion. We cannot go there”, he said, in an obvious reference to Trump’s tweet calling upon  people to “liberate” their states from the lockdown.

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