New York is now the hardest hit state with cases of novel coronavirus. Ten days ago, Washington state had the highest recorded numbers across the country with 568 cases and 37 deaths, but as of today the Empire State has surpassed Washington with 15,168 reported cases and 114 deaths. Nationwide, the death toll climbs towards 400.
Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) held a press conference yesterday afternoon to address his state, layout his plan to combat the virus, and detail how he will work interdependently with the federal government to aid the state’s health care system, which has been overwhelmed for the past week with new critical cases of patients who require ICU beds with ventilators.
Cuomo was calm, articulate, and able to outline his goals without inserting his democratic political views or criticizing the president, which he is known for. The reporters in the room were few and literally far between, practicing the CDC’s social distancing guidelines. Cuomo began the press conference by first describing the distinction between the federal and state’s roles in this pandemic, which places an exponentially heavier burden on each state to resolve its own needs as sovereignly as possible.
Outside of this crisis, state sovereignty benefits both the state and its people, but due to the difficulty of obtaining critical medial supplies, Cuomo has asked the federal government to step in and support his efforts to meet the demand. The medical supply industry has resorted to price gouging and Cuomo was transparent about the fact that his state cannot compete. Masks that normally cost 85¢ are now being sold for $7, which makes buying them in mass quantities unaffordable. Every ICU bed is useless without a ventilator, and NY state doesn’t have enough of either. Handling the required costs is impossible without immediate federal assistance.
The list of direct aid that Cuomo has requested from the federal government includes the Army Corps erecting temporary hospitals at Stony Brook, Westbury, Westchester, and the Javits Center, in an effort to repurpose these sites for medical care. As an extension of this, the Army Corps would also provide medical supplies and staff, which NY state is in dire shortage of.
Cuomo has secured 70k Hydroxychloroquine, 10k Zithromax, and 750k Chloroquine, pharmaceutical drugs believed to help those infected with novel coronavirus to recover more quickly. Drug trials will start this Tuesday, which is excellent news for those who have a higher risk of contracting the virus and experiencing fatal outcomes.
While these drugs could help at-risk patients—those older than 70 years and those with compromised immune systems—fight the virus and recover, drug therapy is no substitute for a vaccine or cure.
The governor wrapped up the press conference by offering his personal advice to residents of NY state. Unlike other state governors, Cuomo addressed the psychological aspects of this pandemic and the mental strains that the shelter in place order could cause. He urged citizens to refrain from being reactive, hoarding, and panicking. He encouraged them to think the situation through, anticipate and plan for both the negatives and positives of the order, and to anticipate the emotional hardships they might face such as cabin fever and isolation.
It’s clear that Gov. Cuomo cares very deeply about ensuring the mental health and emotional morale of NY’s residents while we, as a state and nation, battle the novel coronavirus.