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Cuomo issues statement regarding novel coronavirus in New York

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Mon, Mar 2nd 2020 08:55 am

Gov. Andrew Cuomo released the following statement on Sunday:

"This evening we learned of the first positive case of novel coronavirus — or COVID-19 — in New York state. The patient, a woman in her late 30s, contracted the virus while traveling abroad in Iran, and is currently isolated in her home. The patient has respiratory symptoms, but is not in serious condition and has been in a controlled situation since arriving to New York.

"The positive test was confirmed by New York's Wadsworth Lab in Albany, underscoring the importance of the ability for our state to ensure efficient and rapid turnaround, and is exactly why I advocated for the approval from Vice President Pence that New York was granted just yesterday.

"There is no cause for surprise – this was expected. As I said from the beginning, it was a matter of when, not if there would be a positive case of novel coronavirus in New York.

"Last week I called for the Legislature to pass a $40 million emergency management authorization to confront this evolving situation – I look forward to its swift passage.

"There is no reason for undue anxiety – the general risk remains low in New York. We are diligently managing this situation and will continue to provide information as it becomes available."

On Saturday, Cuomo explained, "When I spoke to Vice President Pence, I urged him to approve New York state's coronavirus test — we just received word that our test has been approved by the FDA. New York state will begin testing immediately at Wadsworth Lab.

"This approval will expedite wait time and improve New York's ability to more effectively manage the coronavirus situation as it unfolds.”

Last week, Cuomo said the $40 million appropriation for the New York State Department of Health would be used to hire additional staff, procure equipment and any other resources necessary to respond to the potential novel coronavirus pandemic. He proposed legislation to grant authority to Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to ensure local health departments and public and private hospitals statewide take certain actions and measures in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak as needed.

DOH will convene local health departments and hospitals statewide to review protocols, best practices and procedures to help ensure they are prepared to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

New York state has independently worked to develop and validate a test using the CDC protocol. Upon FDA approval, Wadsworth can immediately begin testing to support New York and other states in the northeast region, if necessary. 

Additionally, DOH will work with the MTA, Port Authority and its airport operators, and the authorities' respective workforces to ensure workers have the necessary training and access to supplies, including cleaning and protective equipment, they need to continue to operate mass transit systems and airports. New York is also coordinating with all state agencies to help ensure they are prepared to respond to the potential novel coronavirus pandemic.

"As we are seeing the novel coronavirus spread to new countries around the world, in New York we are continuing to take all necessary precautions to protect New Yorkers from this dangerous virus," Cuomo said.

As of last week, samples from 27 New Yorkers had been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing, with 26 returning negative.

The governor’s office said that, while there is currently no vaccine for the novel coronavirus, everyday preventative actions can help one stop the spread of this or other respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Individuals who are experiencing symptoms and may have traveled to areas of concern or have been in contact with somebody who has traveled to these areas should call ahead to their health care provider before presenting for treatment.

New Yorkers can call the state hotline at 1-888-364-3065, where experts from the Department of Health can answer questions regarding the novel coronavirus. In addition, the DOH has a dedicated website that was created as a resource with updated information for New Yorkers. The department has also launched two public service announcements (PSAs) on the novel coronavirus, one featuring Zucker and another with general information, that are running statewide in multiple languages.

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