Coronavirus

The new coronavirus reality in New York

Cuomo has plans to boost testing capacity as cases exceed 300.

Governor Cuomo delivers an update on coronavirus in New York State on March 12th.

Governor Cuomo delivers an update on coronavirus in New York State on March 12th. Darren McGee/Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

Confirmed coronavirus cases in New York exceeded 300 as of Thursday afternoon (no updated total was available this morning) and state government efforts are increasingly focused on addressing what is called “community spread” through measures like the restriction on large public gatherings announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo yesterday.

The Cuomo administration has had to address information over the past day as to what type of venues are subject to the new 500-person limit (all venues have to be below 50% capacity) that goes into effect this evening. Mass transit does not count, and public schools are only being closed on a case-by-case basis, contrary to rumors.

Isolation and digital communication are increasingly the norms in the public and political spheres alike. State lawmakers are closing their district offices and assisting constituents by email or phone. More and more political candidates are suspending their petition drives to get enough signatures on the ballot while demanding that the governor delay the deadline. For now, state lawmakers are sticking to the regular session schedule.

The opening of the state’s first drive-through center for coronavirus testing in New Rochelle today shows just how fast things can change. Cuomo brushed off the idea of creating such a facility when asked about it by a reporter at a press conference last week. The state needs to increase its testing capacity as quickly as possible, and doing so from the confines of an automobile would limit the chance of spreading the virus. About 200 cars per day could be tested at the new facility, the governor told reporters this morning. 

Efforts remain ongoing to expand the state’s testing capacity through private labs. The state is partnering with BioReference Laboratories to reach a capacity of about 5,000 tests per day, which Cuomo said is a “huge step forward” in understanding just how far the virus has spread. What additional measures the state will take remain to be determined, but it could be at least several more months before the state is in the clear, Cuomo added. “People should start to recognize this,” he said. “It’s not going to be over in a matter of weeks.”

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