CORONAVIRUS IN NEW YORK: Statewide cases jump from 33 to 44, Cuomo announces

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March 06, 2020 - 1:15 pm
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NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- There are now 44 confirmed statewide cases of coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in an update late Friday afternoon.

Previously, there were 33 cases as the statewide number of cases trippled in 48 hours.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday afternoon that the number of cases statewide was 33, including 11 new cases confirmed since Thursday and 22 since Wednesday. Among those cases are two people in Rockland County connected to the case of a lawyer in Westchester, the governor said.

Some 4,000 people are under "precautionary quarantine" statewide, including 2,700 in New York City, 1,000 in Westchester, 70 in Nassau and 15 in Suffolk, Cuomo said.

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Another 44 people are under "mandatory quarantine" statewide, including nine in New York City and 33 in Westchester, the governor said, adding that he expects the number of cases to go up.

“The number has to go up. The number can’t go down, because we are testing people. Because we want to find people who are testing positive,” Cuomo said.

No deaths have been reported so far in the city or state.

The updated numbers from Cuomo came shortly after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city's latest case on WNYC's "Brian Lehrer Show" Friday morning.

The mayor said the man is in his 50s and lives somewhere in Manhattan.

"We’re testing his family and the disease detectives are following up on his contacts," de Blasio said. "We’ll know more shortly on his family and any close contacts."

He has "very mild symptoms" and is "associated with" a Westchester lawyer who has been connected to a number of confirmed cases in the state, the mayor said. 

Of potential new cases in the city, De Blasio predicted "the numbers are going to jump up meaningfully."

And although several private schools have closed this week as a precaution, de Blasio said no students in the city school system have contracted the virus so far.

WESTCHESTER RABBI TESTS POSITIVE

News of the latest case in the city Friday came hours after a Westchester rabbi who teaches at Yeshiva University in Manhattan said he tested positive for the coronavirus.

Rabbi Reuven Fink is connected to a 50-year-old lawyer from Westchester who came down with the virus earlier this week. Several of the lawyer’s friends and family members also contracted the virus, including his son, who attends Yeshiva University.

Fink, who is the rabbi of the Young Israel of New Rochelle, has been in self-quarantine after “being in contact with his congregant who has tested positive,” the university said in a statement. That congregant is believed to be the lawyer, who is a worshipper at the synagogue.

At least 19 of the state's 33 cases (including the one announced Friday morning) are connected to the Westchester lawyer.

Health officials had said earlier that people who attended services at Young Israel of New Rochelle on Feb. 22, and a funeral and a bat mitzvah on Feb. 23, must self-quarantine until at least Sunday. 

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

Fink teaches two undergraduate classes at Yeshiva's Washington Heights campus, the university said.

"We have reached out to his students and recommended as a precautionary measure to self-quarantine until further notice,” a university official wrote.

“I have the virus and am doing reasonably well,” Fink wrote to congregants Thursday night, according to the New York Times. “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.”

Just days ago, before he was diagnosed, Fink wrote a Facebook post in which he told congregants "this is a very emotionally trying time for us all."

"When we first heard of the Coronavirus it seemed so remote," the rabbi wrote. "It has now come not only to our doorstep, but has pierced our lives."

SCHOOLS CLOSE OVER VIRUS

Meanwhile, classes are canceled at Yeshiva University’s Washington Heights and Midtown campuses until at least March 10.

Two prestigious Manhattan private schools were also closed Friday due to coronavirus concerns.

The Spence School, an all-girls school on the Upper East Side on East 91st Street, announced on its website Thursday: "The Spence School is closed on Friday, March 6, for a comprehensive sanitization of the entire campus."

The Collegiate School, an all-boys school on the Upper West Side near West End Avenue and West 61st Street, also announced on its website the school will be shuttered on Friday. 

The Collegiate School, a member of the Ivy Preparatory School League, said the family of a middle school student is being monitored because a parent was exposed to coronavirus during a recent overseas trip.

CASES RISING IN NY

New York state’s coronavirus caseload doubled overnight to nearly three dozen, as de Blasio implored the federal government to send more test kits for the new virus.

The newly diagnosed cases include two critically ill, hospitalized patients in New York City and a hospitalized man in Nassau County, officials said.

The other positive tests were in people with mild symptoms — or none at all — in Westchester County, where the cluster of cases emerged earlier in the week and the 50-year-old lawyer at the center of it has been hospitalized since last week. Officials said Thursday that he was improving.

“The number will continue to go up” as testing increases, Cuomo warned Thursday, adding that he expected “significant” spread through the public.

De Blasio said Thursday that two patients in New York City, a man in his 40s and a woman in her 80s, both have underlying medical problems that may have intensified their symptoms.

Neither had traveled to virus hotspots or had ties to known cases in the area, adding to indications the virus is spreading locally.

“Our level of concern is rising, for sure,” de Blasio said. “You have to assume it could be anywhere in the city, so we’re going to work on an assumption of intense vigilance.”

Cuomo said the Long Island patient, a 42-year-old man, also has underlying medical problems. He’s not in intensive care, and his condition is improving, officials said.

Meanwhile, officials in neighboring New Jersey announced the state’s first two coronavirus cases, with both patients hospitalized. One is a health care worker in his 30s who works in New York City and splits time between homes there and in New Jersey, officials said. It’s not clear where he works or in what capacity. Officials said he was faring well in a northern New Jersey hospital.

THOUSANDS QUARANTINED AS TESTS CONTINUE

Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 100,000 people and killed over 3,300 as of Thursday.

New York officials have sought to emphasize that most cases are mild enough not to require hospitalization.

Still, cases of the new virus — and concerns about potential ones — have already prompted officials to ask thousands of people in recent weeks to quarantine themselves. A few schools and college campuses outside of the city have also closed for cleaning; suburban Rockland County canceled a youth event planned for Sunday.

De Blasio, a Democrat, urged the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to supply New York with more test kits and to speed the approval of tests that private companies may be developing.

“Our single greatest challenge is the lack of fast federal action to increase testing capacity,” he said. “Without that, we cannot beat this epidemic back.”

After an initial batch of test kits that the CDC sent to state and big city public health labs proved largely faulty last month, New York City and state officials pressed for permission to run their own tests.

The state got approval Saturday to run its own version of the test. Cuomo, a Democrat, said Thursday the state is now able to run about 100 to 200 tests a day and is now working with other laboratories to boost testing capacity.

New York City, meanwhile, got a new batch of CDC test kits. De Blasio said Thursday that the city ultimately wants the capacity to do hundreds of tests per day or more and needs federal help to get there.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.