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Confirmed coronavirus cases is approaching 1,000 in New York as 221 new cases were found within the last 24 hours.
Seven people — five in New York City, one in Rockland County and one in Suffolk County — have died after contracting the coronavirus. There are 158 people who have been hospitalized. Sixteen people have been released from hospitals after recovering from the coronavirus.
While the virus is spreading, the recent spike in confirmed cases is largely due to expanded testing that’s identifying people who have COVID-19. Through March 15, the state and private labs have processed 7,026 tests for the coronavirus. On Sunday, there were 1,692 tests for the virus.
“These cases are more an example of how many tests you’re doing and who you’re testing rather than a raw number of cases in that area,” Cuomo said.
The state plans to increase testing this week. According to Cuomo, the state could be up to 7,000 tests per day by the end of the week.
The testing expansion will include more drive-through options. The state opened a mobile testing facilityin New Rochelle, which has a high number of confirmed coronavirus cases. Other drive-through testing facilities will open on Long Island, Staten Island and Rockland County.
The drive-through sites are preferred because it reduces the risk of infecting others if someone were to go into an emergency room to be tested.
In other news:
- Fees to visit state and local parks will be waived, Cuomo announced. He’s encouraging New Yorkers to visit the parks because the sites aren’t dense environments.
“You want to get out of the house? Go to the park,” Cuomo said. “Take a walk. Enjoy your family.”
- Cuomo is directing local governments to reduce their workforces by at least 50% and asking nonessential personnel to stay home or work from home. He’s also requiring that all local emergency management services and police departments are supplied with masks.
- Repeating what he proposed on Sunday, Cuomo again urged President Donald Trump to mobilize the Army Corps of Engineers to retrofit State University of New York dormitories for use as temporary hospitals during the outbreak.
With the number of confirmed coronavirus cases expected to rise, additional hospital capacity could be needed. The state has more than 50,000 hospital beds and 3,000 beds in intensive care units. Most of the ICU beds — about 80% — are occupied.
Cuomo is hoping that the federal government will assist the state. If that help doesn’t come, there is a backup plan. The National Guard will be mobilized and work with the building trades and private developers to set up temporary medical facilities.
One challenge, though, will be accessing the necessary medical equipment.
“We need federal assets and we need federal assistance,” Cuomo said.
For now, the state will look to expand hospital capacity through a suspension of state health regulations. It will be up to hospitals to determine how to use the additional space.
Cuomo also established a council to develop a hospital “surge capacity” plan.