A fourth region of New York state, the North Country, has met the criteria to begin reopening after the NY PAUSE restrictions expire on Friday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced during a news conference today in Watertown.
The North Country part of the state joins the Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley and the Southern Tier in qualifying to begin Phase One of the four-phase reopening plan. There are seven criteria that must be met before reopening can begin in a region. The Mid-Hudson Region, which includes Westchester, on Wednesday had not yet met two of the requirements: a 14-day decline in hospital deaths or a three-day average of fewer than five deaths; and fewer than two hospitalizations per 100,000 residents over a three-day rolling average.
Cuomo reported that the state now has 102 cases of the inflammatory disease linked to COVID-19 that has been appearing in patients under age 22, especially younger teenagers and children. There have been three deaths. Similar to Kawasaki disease and toxic shock-like syndrome, notable symptoms include:
- Fever lasting more than five days;
- Severe abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting;
- Bloodshot eyes;
- Skin rash.
There also can be:
- Change is skin color, becoming pale, patchy or blue;
- Difficulty feeding an infant or the infant being too sick to drink fluids;
- Trouble breathing or breathing very quickly;
- Racing heart or chest pain;
- Lethargy, irritability or confusion.
Cuomo said the state Department of Health is partnering with the New York Genome Center and Rockefeller University to conduct a study designed to shed light on the possible genetic basis of what has been observed and to better understand illnesses related to COVID-19 in children. He said that Commissioner of Health Howard Zucker participated in a conference call with health commissioners from other states discussing the syndrome.
Cuomo urged parents who have been exposed to COVID-19 or who think their children may have been exposed to the virus to be cautious and seek prompt medical attention for their children if symptoms appear.
Cuomo reviewed results of antibody test results on essential workers in the New York City area and said that the results provide additional evidence that wearing masks produces results. Transit workers showed 14.2% positive test results for having COVID-19 antibodies, indicating they had been exposed to the virus. Health care workers were 12.2% positive, members of the New York Police Department were 10.5% positive and city firefighters and EMTs were 17.1% positive. The city’s population as a whole showed 19.9% positive test results for antibodies.
Cuomo noted that statewide testing has shown that 12.3% of the population was positive for the presence of COVID-19 antibodies in the blood compared with 3.1% positives among 2,750 members of the state police and 7.5% positives among approximately 3,000 workers in state correction facilities.
When asked about a call by an upstate senator for Roberta Reardon, the state’s commissioner of labor to resign because of delays in processing unemployment insurance claims, Cuomo called it a “cheap shot.” Sen. Patty Ritchie, Republican of the 48thDistrict that includes Watertown, said she had heard from hundreds of constituents who were at the breaking point from trying to get claims processed.
“It’s a cheap shot. Let’s look at the facts,” Cuomo said. “It’s easy to pander but lets just be a little honest here. Normally a state unemployment website would handle several thousand calls, okay? We’re now handling in the millions. We have 3,000 people working on the phones and the website. Just think about that; 3,000 people trying to keep up with the increase in the volume.”
Cuomo said part of the problem at first was that new federal requirements required applicants to certify 57 different items all of which had to be checked by the state.
Statewide there have been a total of 22,013 COVID-19 deaths according to statistics obtained this afternoon from the state Department of Health. Yesterday, there were 166 deaths in the state, 44 in nursing homes and 122 in hospitals. There have been a total of 1,368 deaths in Westchester. Rockland saw 462 of its residents fall victim to the virus. There were no new deaths for the second straight day in Putnam, with the number holding at 58. There have been 331 deaths recorded in Orange County and 115 in Dutchess.
New York has had 340,661 people test positive for the virus. There were 31,611 cases identified in Westchester, 12,543 in Rockland, 1,108 in Putnam, 9,693 in Orange and 3,429 in Dutchess.