Divulging Brother’s Diagnosis, Cuomo Says Virus Fight Will Endure

ALBANY, N.Y. (CN) — Governor Andrew Cuomo warned New Yorkers in his daily press briefing Tuesday to buckle up for a long fight in the coronavirus pandemic. Nobody knows when things will go back to normal, he said.

“But I can say this: It is not going to be soon … So calibrate yourself and your expectations,” Cuomo said. “So you’re not disappointed every morning you get up.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tours a Covid-19 infection testing facility at Glen Island Park in New Rochelle, N.Y., on March 13, 2020. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

New York state has tested 200,000 people — more testing per capita, Cuomo noted, than achieved in China and South Korea. Against this statistic, however, testing nationwide lags far behind what experts say is necessary to curb the spread of the virus.

Cuomo also said his brother, Chris Cuomo, who hosts “Cuomo Prime Time” on CNN, has tested positive for Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Chris Cuomo is self-isolating in the basement of his New York home, where he recorded Monday’s episode, and plans to continue working.

New York has 75,000 cases of Covid-19, far more than any other state in the U.S. There are 2,700 patients in intensive care units, nearly 5,000 have been discharged, and 1,500 have died.

Cuomo said he’s watching five different models that predict the apex of the crisis in his state, and that the range suggests it could come between seven and 21 days.

“The main battle is on the top of the mountain,” Cuomo said. “That’s where the battle is — the apex of the curve. And then we come down the other side of the mountain. We are planning now for the battle at the top of the mountain.”

Cuomo on Monday announced a partnership between public and private hospitals in New York, in which overwhelmed institutions can transfer patients to hospitals that are not as full.

“We have to get those two systems, the private system, and the public system in New York City, working together in a way they never did before,” he said. “The distinction of private-public, that has to go out the window. We are one health care system.”

Cuomo also said New York has ordered 17,000 ventilators from China at $25,000 apiece. He said he thinks the state will need every single one, but has only a firm expectation of receiving 2,500 because worldwide demand is so high.

“We are paying $25,000 for ventilators, and we are broke, and the last thing I want to do is buy a single ventilator that I don’t need,” Cuomo said.

The governor expressed frustration with having to compete with other U.S. states, as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, for the equipment, which he said is driving up prices. Cuomo said FEMA should have been the purchaser and distributed the products to the states.

Neighboring New Jersey has the second-highest number of cases with 16,000, while California has 7,000.

“And we’ve been behind it from day one, since it got here,” Cuomo said. “And we’ve been playing catch up. You don’t win, playing catch up. You have to get ahead of it.”

New data from thermometer company Kinsa Health, backed by multiple public health departments, suggest that social distancing is working in the U.S. — but the restrictions must remain in place, experts warn.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke Tuesday afternoon at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, which will soon be transformed into a pop-up hospital, with 350 hospital beds for coronavirus patients who do not need intensive care. It’s meant as a relief valve for overwhelmed Elmhurst Hospital, he said.

Before the Covid-19 crisis, the city had 20,000 hospital beds, de Blasio said. Now it needs to triple that number, and fast.

“We have to find a way to mourn but never be paralyzed,” he said. He added that no facility the city approached with a hospital request had said no.

“Everyone understands what time it is,” he said.

This coming Sunday, April 5, is a pivotal date, said de Blasio, by which time the city must be prepared for what’s expected to be a huge increase in cases next week. FEMA is sending 250 more ambulances to the city to help with demand, he added, as well as 500 EMTs and paramedics.

Meanwhile, the city is shutting down all nonemergency, nonessential construction, with fines for violators.

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