In a move that added visual impact to his previous call for the federal Centers for Disease Control to allow automated testing at private labs and take other steps to increase the ability to identify people with COVID-19 coronavirus, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo today visited the 150,000-square-foot $60 million laboratory operated by Northwell Health in Lake Success.
During the visit, the governor appealed to businesses to let employees work from home to contain the coronavirus.
Northwell Health provides services on Long Island and in New York City, as well as in the Hudson Valley, which includes Phelps Hospital in Sleepy Hollow and numerous Northwell Health Physician Partners offices.
Northwell’s lab is where the Sperry Gyroscope Corp. built crucial instruments for aircraft during World War II. It later became the original New York location for the United Nations.
Cuomo and state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker were given a tour of the facility by Northwell’s CEO Michael Dowling and Dwayne Breining, the executive director of Northwell Labs. The lab already has automated equipment for testing, can quickly install more and is projected to be able to process 1,000 COVID-19 tests a day if the CDC allows it. Cuomo described the lab as the most sophisticated one in New York and one of the most sophisticated in the country.
During a news conference after the tour, Cuomo said he has been speaking with business leaders across the state and said that the private sector has a role in trying to contain spread of the virus.
“I’ve been saying to business leaders, first, have a liberal sick leave policy for your employees. If somebody is sick, stay home. If you feel symptoms, stay home. And I’d like the companies to communicate that to their employees that they will pay them liberal sick leave policy to stay home. To the extent private sector companies can, stagger their workers,” Cuomo said. “To the extent the private sector company can, say, ‘Stay at home, nonessential workers. Work from home.’ More and more this is a digital economy. To the extent workers can work at home, let them work at home. We want to reduce the density.”
Cuomo took the opportunity to again slam the federal government for being slow to react and restricting the ability of states such as New York to take action.
Cuomo blasted the Trump administration for making contradictory statements about testing.
“President of the United States says, ‘Anyone who wants a test can have a test.’ Vice President of the United States says, ‘We don’t have the testing capacity.’ ‘People say, how can you say both things?’ You can’t say both things. We don’t have the testing capacity that we need. Not everyone who wants a test can have a test. We have to prioritize the people who get the tests to fit our capacity, right. You can’t ask more people to come in and get tested until you know you have the capacity to test them,” Cuomo said.