Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said this morning that he has brought in people to begin planning to restart the economy once the COVID-19 pandemic has diminished to a point where it would be safe to “open the valve where that would be oxygen for the economy.”
“I’m very proud of the steps that we’ve taken to address this public health crisis, but I’m also aware that it is unsustainable to run this state or country with the economy closed down,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo was accompanied at an Albany news conference by two former aides who he has brought back to help plan for restarting the economy. They are Steven Cohen, who is executive vice president and CEO of MacAndrews & Forbes Inc., and was secretary to Cuomo both as governor and state attorney general and Bill Mulrow, a senior adviser at Blackstone Group and who also served as secretary to the governor. Former aide Larry Schwartz, who was deputy county executive under Westchester County Executive Andy Spano, also was on hand.
“I’ve worked with these people for 30 years,” Cuomo said. “I take total responsibility for shutting off the economy in terms of essential workers, but we also have to start to plan the pivot back to economic functionality. You can’t stop the economy forever. So, we have to start to think about does everyone stay out of work, should young people go back to work sooner, can we test for those who had the virus resolved and are now immune and can they start to go back to work?”
Cuomo said they’ll be looking for a public health strategy that is more productive while being less destructive for the economy. He offered no time line for when a restart effort might be possible.
New York state now has 20,875 identified cases of COVID-19, according to statistics provided by Cuomo. The number in Westchester went up by more than 1,000 from yesterday to today, with the total now put at 2,894. Out of Westchester’s population of approximately 957,000, 14,684 people have been tested for the virus, according to Cuomo’s figures. Of those tested, 19.7% have been positive for COVID-19.
There have been 157 deaths in the state. Nationwide, the limited testing that has been done has revealed 38,725 cases with 463 deaths.
In Rockland County, 592 cases have been reported. There were 389 cases in Orange County and 100 in Dutchess County.
Cuomo said that for the second day, the rate of people who have the virus and need hospitalization has been at about 13%. He found that a positive sign since hospitalization rates above 20% have been reported globally during the outbreak.
Cuomo said that the state has had some success in securing personal protective equipment. He said it will be sending out 339,760 N-95 masks, with 16,988 going to Westchester. There will be 861,7900 surgical masks supplied by the state, including 43,085 to Westchester. Other medical supplies being shipped by the state include 145,122 gowns with 7,256 headed for Westchester.
Cuomo said he has gone ahead with issuing an emergency order to hospitals to increase capacity by 50% at a minimum. He said the goal remains to double hospital capacity.
He said there has been good response to letters that went out last week to retired health professionals and medical and nursing schools seeking additional personnel. So far, there have been more than 30,000 responses to the appeal for help responding to the pandemic, according to Cuomo.
Cuomo said he has asked insurance companies to allow nurses and doctors on their staffs to join the public health effort.