CORONAVIRUS: Cuomo declares state of emergency as NY cases hit 89; Uber driver among 7 new cases in NYC

1010 WINS Newsroom
March 07, 2020 - 6:40 pm
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NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday that the number of coronavirus cases in New York had reached 89—double Friday's number—as he declared a state of emergency to combat the virus.

The state of emergency means New York will be able to get more help fighting the outbreak in terms of supplies and workers.

Cuomo said Saturday morning there were 76 new cases in the state, including seven new cases in New York City. On Saturday evening, he announced number had risen to 89, with 13 new cases in Westchester.

Here's the current breakdown: Westchester: 70; New York City: 11; Nassau: 4; Rockland: 2; Saratoga: 2.

At least 10 of the patientst are hospitalized, Cuomo said.

There are also four cases in New Jersey and two cases in Connecticut, though the cases in Connecticut are New York residents working in the state.

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Cuomo said five of the New York City cases appear to have been from community spread.

Mayor Bill de Blasio broke down the seven new cases in the city:

  • Two additional family members of an Upper West Side man in his 50s tested positive — his wife and 11-year-old daughter. They are currently in mandatory quarantine and are mildly symptomatic.

  • A male Uber driver in his 30s is currently hospitalized in Queens. He is not a TLC licensed driver, and primarily drives on Long Island.

  • Two women in Brooklyn in their 60s and 70s became symptomatic after returning from a cruise from Egypt with a known confirmed case of COVID-19. They are both at home in mandatory quarantine.

  • A male in his 30s from Brooklyn is currently in the hospital in serious condition after returning from a trip to Italy.

  • A Manhattan man in his late 50s tested positive after spending time with a COVID-19 positive person on a recent trip to Chile. He is symptomatic and under mandatory quarantine.

The Uber driver is apparently one of the community spread patients and has been hospitalized at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway, Queens, New York State Sen. James Sanders Jr. said.

Sanders initially said 40 workers at the hospital had quarantined, but later said that wasn't the case.

Uber responded to the case in a statement: “We have a dedicated team working closely with public health authorities and stand ready to help in any way.”

The ride-hailing app company said it removed the driver's access to the app once it was notified. It also said the driver was not an NYC-licensed driver and did not pick up passengers in the five boroughs. De Blasio said he worked mainly on Long Island.

The 36 new cases in Westchester all appear to be related to an infected lawyer in New Rochelle.

"Westchester is obviously a problem for us," Cuomo said Saturday afternoon. "They talk about contagion in clusters, and then the clusters tend to infect more and more people."

Cuomo said the state is instructing nursing homes and senior home living facilities in the immediate area of New Rochelle to suspend outside visitors.

Additionally, the governor said two S.A.R school locations in Westchester and the Bronx, as well as the Westchester Day School may be closed beyond the initial March 14 date.

He also said the quarantine period may need to be "reset."

Cuomo said one of the cases in Saratoga County is a 57-year-old pharmacist. The second case in that county is a 52-year-old woman who had contact with a "positive person from Pennsylvania at a conference in Miami."

The governor also said 73 SUNY students returning from countries with coronavirus cases—including China, Italy and Iran—will land at JFK Airport instead of Stewart International Airport. He said they will be quarantined for at least 14 days before returning to school.

Cuomo said the state is continuing to test people "aggressively, especially along suspected populations by following the infection tree." He said the state is now able to perform about 500 tests a day.

"We want to identify people, because we want to put them in a position where they're not going to infect anybody else. We want to find positives," he said. "The more tests the better, the more positives you find, the better, because then you can isolate them and you slow the spread."

Cuomo urged senior citizens and people with compromised immune systems to be cautious.

"My message would be if you are a senior citizen or immune compromised I would think seriously about attending a large gathering now," the governor said.

WESTCHESTER CLUSTER

Rabbi Reuven Fink, of the Young Israel of New Rochelle temple, is among a cluster of cases in Westchester, according to a statement posted Friday on the website of Yeshiva University, where Fink teaches two courses. 

“I can now reassure you that it is possible, Thank G-d, to get through this virus without a special vaccine. I have the virus and am doing reasonably well,” Fink wrote in an email to synagogue members, according to a letter posted online. “But I must caution all of you who have had personal contact with me to seek counsel from your health practitioner as to how to proceed.”

Many members of Fink’s congregation were asked to self-quarantine earlier in the week after the hospitalization of a person in the synagogue’s community, a 50-year-old lawyer who works in Manhattan. Since then, a growing number of friends and relatives of the lawyer have tested positive.

Most of the new cases announced Friday and Saturday were connected to the Westchester case or were suspected of being related to it, according to Cuomo. The governor said the cases from that suburban county included a 7-year-old boy and an 82-year-old man.

The list of new cases connected to the Westchester case includes a person in New York City, several members of the congregation, two friends, two people in nearby Rockland County who worked at a bat mitzvah at the synagogue and three cases related to the lawyer’s initial hospitalization in Westchester County, according to Cuomo.

Officials in Rockland County said the man and woman there were at home and doing well.

Coronavirus
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The upper Manhattan campus of Yeshiva University was already closed through Friday because the stricken lawyer’s son is a student there and has also tested positive for the virus. The university said it was advising Fink’s students to self-quarantine until further notice.

The synagogue’s website says it is closed through Sunday.

Cuomo said about 4,000 people across the state are in a precautionary quarantine, all but 300 in New York City and Westchester County. At least 44 people were in mandatory quarantine.

Cuomo said the lesson from the suburban outbreak is how easily the virus can spread when people gather.

“You can have one large gathering — 400, 500 people in a gathering — and you can infect a number of people,” Cuomo said.

Health officials had said earlier that people who attended services at the suburban synagogue on Feb. 22, and a funeral and a bat mitzvah on Feb. 23, must self-quarantine until at least Sunday.

There were scattered school closings in the region amid fears of a wider spread of the virus. Two elite private schools in Manhattan, the all-girls Spence and the all-boys Collegiate, closed Friday because a family associated with the schools was being monitored for the coronavirus.

NEW JERSEY CASES

Two northern New Jersey residents who have tested positive for the new coronavirus went to the same health care facility before they were eventually hospitalized this week, officials said Friday.

Bergen County Executive James Tedesco declined to identify the facility, which is in Bergen County, except to say that it is not an urgent care facility. Tedesco said the names of workers and patients who were at the facility when the two patients visited have been given to the state health department.

The facility remains open, Tedesco said.

Through a spokeswoman, the state health department said Friday it is “in the process of identifying healthcare, household, and other close contacts of these cases” to assess their risk of exposure and determine next steps, including self-quarantining.

Two cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Bergen County this week. One, a man in his early 30s, is hospitalized in at Hackensack University Medical Center. Officials said the man, who lives with family in New York City but has an apartment in Fort Lee, New Jersey, felt ill Monday night and visited the facility before being hospitalized.

The second patient, a woman from Englewood, was released from Englewood Hospital Thursday and is in isolation at home, Tedesco said. She also had visited the unnamed facility Monday.

State officials identified a third and fourth case on Friday: a man in his 60s who is hospitalized at Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital in Camden County, and a man in his 50s hospitalized at Englewood Hospital in Bergen County. No other details on these cases has been released.

On Saturday, Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver said the man's case is connected to a cluster of cases in New Rochelle.

Oliver also said 15 more people are under investigation for the virus in New Jersey.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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