Governor Announces Goal for State to Be Able to Test Up to 1,000 Tests Per Day Statewide
State Will Institute New Cleaning Protocols at Schools and in Public Transportation Systems to Help Stop Any Potential Spread of the Virus
Follows FDA Approval of the New York State Wadsworth Center's Test for COVID-19 - the First Non-CDC Test Approved by the FDA
Governor Cuomo: "We are coordinating with private hospitals, private labs, around the state. We want to get testing capacity as high as possible. I said to the people around this table that I would like to have a goal of 1,000 tests per day capacity within one week. Because again the more testing the better. Once you can test and find a person that is positive, then you can isolate that person so they do not infect additional people. We will be moving a piece of emergency legislation on the state side that will authorize an additional $40 million for additional staff and equipment. I want to make sure that the healthcare system has everything that it needs."
Governor Cuomo: "Late last night my daughter called me, and I could hear in her voice that she was anxious. She had seen on the news that a person tested positive. And my daughter said, you know, what's this? And I could hear in her voice she was nervous. And my daughter said, don't tell me to relax. Tell me why I should be relaxed. Which is a very big difference there. So I want to make sure I tell the people of New York what I told my daughter. In this situation, the facts defeat fear. Because the reality is reassuring. It is deep breath time...This is not our first rodeo with this type of situation in New York."
Earlier today, during a briefing on the novel Coronavirus at his office in midtown Manhattan, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the world-renowned Wadsworth Center — the research-intensive public health laboratory housed within the State Department of Health — is partnering with hospitals to expand surge testing capacity to 1,000 tests per day statewide for the novel coronavirus. The Wadsworth Center will provide these hospitals with instructions on how to replicate the State's test, as well as help them purchase some of the equipment necessary to develop and validate the test.
The Governor also announced the state will institute a new cleaning protocol at schools and in the public transportation system to help stop any potential spread of the virus.
AUDIO of today's announcement is available here.
PHOTOS of today's announcement will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is below:
Good morning. Thank you all for being here. Let me first introduce who's here, then I'll make some opening comments, then I'll turn it over to Mayor deBlasio. To my far right Doctor Ken Davis, President & CEO of Mount Sinai Health Systems. Doctor David Reich from Mount Sinai Hospital Systems also. Ken Raske who is the President & CEO of the Greater New York Hospital Association. I want to thank him for all his good work. Our State Health Commissioner Doctor Zucker. This good gentlemen you know. Bea Grause who is the President of the Health Association of New York State - HANYS. Doctor Steve Corwin who is the President of New York Presbyterian Hospital. Joe Lhota Executive Vice President from NYU-Langone Medical Center, but at one time he had a really important job. And we have Doctor Barbot, Commissioner of New York City Health Department.
I wanted to speak about the situation that was reported last night with the person who tested positive for the Coronavirus. That woman is a health care worker. She's 39-years-old. She had been working in Iran and came back on Tuesday to New York. She did not take any public transportation, as she was a health care worker she was very aware of this situation and the potential for this situation. We don't believe that she was contagious when she was on the plane or when she took a private car from the airport to her residence. But out of an abundance of caution, we'll be contacting the people who were on the flight with her from Iran to New York and the driver of that car service. And we'll be contacting them and following up with them as the facts dictate.
The health care worker also was with her spouse. He was also a health care worker. So they were both aware of the situation. Her husband is being tested also, but we are assuming that he would be positive, given the circumstances. And he has been following the same protocols that she has been following. The testing was done at Mount Sinai. Again, healthcare workers, they have contacted Mount Sinai before that they were coming in and they took all precautions necessary. They are at home, at their home. She, the healthcare worker, has manifested some respiratory illnesses, but her condition is mild. So she is at home and she is not hospitalized even though she has tested positive for the virus. Her spouse is with her.
In general, there is no doubt that there will be more cases where we find people who test positive. We said early on, it was not a question of if but when. This is New York. We are a gateway to the world. You see all these cases around the world, around the country, of course are going to have it here. And that is where the whole challenge is about containment of the number of people who become exposed and who become infected.
Our challenge now is to test as many people as you can. You are not going to eliminate the spread, but you can limit the spread - testing is very important. That is why the CDC, the federal government now allowing us to test is a very big deal. And it will have a dramatic effect on how quickly we can mobilize and respond. We are coordinating with private hospitals, private labs, around the state. We want to get testing capacity as high as possible. I said to the people around this table that I would like to have a goal of 1,000 tests per day capacity within one week. Because again the more testing the better. Once you can test and find a person that is positive, then you can isolate that person so they do not infect additional people.
We will be moving a piece of emergency legislation on the state side that will authorize an additional $40 million for additional staff and equipment. I want to make sure that the healthcare system has everything that it needs. We are going to be instituting new cleaning protocols in our schools, on public transportation, et cetera, where they will use a disinfectant. Many will use bleach, which is a good protocol in the flu season anyway. So, if people smell - it smells like bleach - when you get on a bus or when a child goes to school, it's not bad cologne or perfume. It is bleach. And again, we're going to be focusing on our facilities that treat our senior citizens, debilitated people, or immune-compromised people. Because those are the people who are most likely most affected by this virus.
My last point is this: late last night my daughter called me, and I could hear in her voice that she was anxious. She had seen on the news that a person tested positive. And my daughter said, you know, what's this? And I could hear in her voice she was nervous. And my daughter said, don't tell me to relax. Tell me why I should be relaxed. Which is a very big difference there. So I want to make sure I tell the people of New York what I told my daughter. In this situation, the facts defeat fear. Because the reality is reassuring. It is deep breath time.
First of all, this is not our first rodeo with this type of situation in New York. 1968 we had the Hong Kong flu. 2009 we had the swine flu where we actually closed like 100 schools in New York State. Avian flu, Ebola, SARS, MRSA, measles, right. So we have gone through this before. When you look at the reality here, about 80 percent of the people who are infected with the coronavirus self-resolve. They have symptoms. The symptoms are similar to what you would have with the normal flu. And for most people, they treat themselves, over 80 percent, and the virus resolves that way. About 20 percent get ill.
The mortality rate is estimated to be about 1.4 percent, 1.4 percent. What does that mean? The normal flu mortality rate is about .6 percent. And the CDC says 1.4 but they're extrapolating from what we know from countries around the world. First, even on the 1.4 percent, again that tends to be people who are debilitated, senior citizens, many of whom have an underlying illness. That tends to be the people who are vulnerable to this. Good news, children do not appear as vulnerable to this virus. Less vulnerable than to the normal flu. So that is good news. But, 1.4 percent, that's extrapolating from China and other countries, 80 percent it will resolve on their own. The woman who has now tested positive, she's at home, she's not even at a hospital.
So the perspective here is important. And the facts, once you know the facts, once you know the reality, it is reassuring and we should relax because that's what dictated by the reality of the situation. I get the emotion, I understand it, I understand the anxiety. I'm a native born New Yorker, we live with anxiety. But, the facts don't back it up here.
Also, we're extrapolating from what happened in China and other countries. We have the best healthcare system in the world here. And excuse our arrogance as New Yorkers, I speak for the Mayor also on this one, we think we have the best healthcare system on the planet right here in New York. So, when you're saying what happened in other countries vs. what happened here, we don't even think it's going to be as bad as it was in other countries. We are fully coordinated, we are fully mobilized, this is all about mobilization of a public health system. Getting the testing done, getting the information out and then having the healthcare resources to treat people who are going to need help. Again, that is going to be primarily senior citizens, people who are debilitated. And we're going to have a special effort for our nursing homes, et cetera, congregate facilities where senior citizens are being treated.
And I can't thank our partners enough. Everybody is doing exactly what we need to do. We have been ahead of this from day one. From day one. It was a big break when the federal government allowed us to do our own testing because now we are actually in control of the systems ourselves. And as New Yorkers we like control.