Home Focus On COVID-19 LATEST: Cuomo decries federal shortchanging; employers to provide masks for employees

COVID-19 LATEST: Cuomo decries federal shortchanging; employers to provide masks for employees

Fast Facts:
  • The governor will be signing two executive orders today. One will direct employers to provide essential workers with cloth or surgical face masks for when they interact with the public
  • The second order will expand who can conduct antibody tests to ensure that as many New York residents as possible have access in order to bring these tests to scale
  • The change in total hospitalizations continued to decline
  • 1,862 patients were discharged from hospitals yesterday
  • 758 lives were lost yesterday bringing the state total to 9,385
  • 562 deaths in Westchester

 

Cuomo COVID-19
The governor helps unload 35 ventilators to a nursing home in Niskayuna that had donated them to help downstate hospitals.

New York is being seriously shortchanged in federal COVID-19 funding compared with other states according to a Kaiser Health report cited at an Albany news conference today by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

“Nebraska, Montana, for example, Minnesota, are getting approximately $300,000 per COVID-19 case. New York state gets approximately $12,000. How can that be?” Cuomo asked rhetorically. “It can be because in the Senate it became a game of political pork and ‘I want my share’ as opposed to ‘where is the need genuinely.’”

Kaiser reported that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been distributing funds from the CARES Act, the emergency funding bill passed in March, based on past Medicare reimbursements rather than present coronavirus cases. HHS under Secretary Alex Azar is given wide latitude to distribute $100 billion as it sees fit.

Cuomo, a Democrat who is vice-chair of the National Governors Association and the Republican chair of the NSA, Larry Hogan of Maryland, have issued a joint statement calling on Congress to allocate an additional $500 billion to help the states.

“The recently passed federal CARES Act contained zero funding to offset these drastic state revenue shortfalls. To stabilize state budgets and to make sure states have the resources to battle the virus and provide the services the American people rely on, Congress must provide immediate fiscal assistance directly to all states,” the statement said.

“We must be allowed to use any state stabilization funds for replacement of lost revenue, and these funds should not be tied to only COVID-19 related expenses. Congress must amend the CARES Act to allow this flexibility for existing federal funding. Moreover, Congress must appropriate an additional $500 billion specifically for all states and territories to meet the states’ budgetary shortfalls that have resulted from this unprecedented public health crisis,” the statement by Cuomo and Hogan said.

Cuomo announced that he will sign an executive order requiring employers to provide cloth face masks to their employees who interact with the public. He said this will apply to essential employees and includes state workers. The state will supply masks to its employees in the same way the private sector will have to. The executive order will mandate that the masks be free to the employees.

Cuomo reported the death toll in New York state from the virus has risen to 9,385. He cited figures indicating a leveling off of the death rate over the past few days, with the number of daily deaths averaging 771 since April 6.

He reported that yesterday only 53 people were admitted to hospitals, although the number of people who were moved into intensive care units went up 189 from the 101 recorded on April 10. There were 110 patients who needed to be intubated yesterday. Cuomo saw good news in the fact that 1,862 patients were discharged from hospitals yesterday.

Cuomo reported that testing of the drug hydroxychloroquine both with and without the drug azithromycin continues on about 2,000 patients in various hospitals. He said there are no study results yet, but there have been additional reports of some patients being helped. Cuomo said he thinks there will be enough data by April 20 for some judgments to be made about the drugs’ safety and effectiveness against COVID-19.

Cuomo said that although the number of cases upstate has remained light compared with New York City and other downstate areas, additional cases should be expected in rural areas even as the statewide numbers seem to indicate a plateau effect.

A reporter asked why drive-in movie theaters are on the list of businesses that need to be closed since when people go to them they are isolated with either family members or people they know in their cars. Cuomo said that he would initiate a discussion about that with Empire State Development, which has been responsible for maintaining the list that  separates essential from nonessential businesses.

Last season, there were 27 drive-in theaters operating in New York state, including four in the Lower Hudson Valley in Hyde Park, town of Poughkeepsie, Warwick and Middletown.

Cuomo said that nothing has changed regarding the reopening of schools in the state since yesterday when Cuomo said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was just expressing an opinion when he said city schools would remain closed for the rest of the school year.

Cuomo reiterated today that the decision on whether schools reopen or remain closed is a state decision that he intended to coordinate the decision making with other levels of government within New York and the neighboring states of New Jersey and Connecticut.

Cuomo recounted a visit he had made earlier in the day to the Pathways Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Niskayuna, near Albany. Cuomo returned to the nursing home 35 ventilators that it had volunteered to lend to the state for use in hospitals needing them for COVID-19 patients. Cuomo said the call offering use of the ventilators came “out of the blue” and was “an incredibly beautiful, generous gesture.” While visiting Pathways, Cuomo remained outside of the building but chatted with staff and some patients through windows.

Statistics obtained this afternoon from the state Department of Health reveal that Westchester now has 19,313 identified cases of COVID-19. Rockland has 7,721 cases, while 497 have been positively identified in Putnam. There are 5,027 cases attributed to Orange County and 1,838 to Dutchess.

There have been 562 deaths in Westchester from the virus, with 511 of the fatalities being Westchester residents. There have been 179 Rockland residents killed by the virus, 29 Putnam residents, 112 deaths in Orange County and 30 deaths in Dutchess.

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