Virus Sparks  NY State of Emergency

Virus Sparks NY State of Emergency

Photo Courtesy of Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor de Blasio and City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot take questions Friday at a coronavirus briefing in Brooklyn.

By Michael V. Cusenza

During a Saturday briefing on the novel coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency to help New York more quickly and effectively contain the spread of the pathogen.

As of Wednesday afternoon, at least 173 people in New York have tested positive for the virus.

According to Cuomo, the state of emergency allows, among other things:

Expedited procurement of cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer and other essential resources

Allowing qualified professionals other than doctors and nurses to conduct testing

Expedited procurement of testing supplies and equipment

Expedited personnel onboarding

Expedited leasing of lab space

Allowing EMS personnel to transport patients to quarantine locations other than just hospitals

Providing clear basis for price gouging and enforcement investigation

“What are we doing? We are testing aggressively especially along suspected populations by following the infection tree because we want to identify people, because want to put them in a position where they’re not going to infect anybody else,” Cuomo added.

Of the 173 Empire State cases of the coronavirus, 36 are in the five boroughs, including at least two in Queens.

“As New York City continues to see more cases of community transmission, I am reminding New Yorkers to remain vigilant and take the necessary steps to protect themselves,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We are continuing to do everything in our power to keep New Yorkers safe and healthy, and are asking our federal partners to help us increase testing capacity so we can get the job done faster.”

The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection has declared facemasks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes temporarily in short supply to prevent stores from overcharging New Yorkers, de Blasio noted. The declaration makes it temporarily illegal to drastically increase prices. Stores found to be overcharging consumers will be issued a violation with a fine up to $500 per item. DCWP encourages consumers who feel they were overcharged to file a complaint at, or by contacting 311.

According to Hizzoner, New Yorkers should continue to exercise basic precautions while going about their lives: wash your hands, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. If you have any questions on finding medical care call 311. To get regular updates on the latest developments with coronavirus in New York City text COVID to 692-692; you will receive regular SMS texts with the latest news and developments. As of Tuesday, more than 20,000 New Yorkers have signed up for COVID, de Blasio reported.

Currently, 24 NYC residents are under mandatory quarantine and 2,019 are under voluntary home isolation, the mayor said. Those under mandatory quarantine receive daily calls and twice weekly unannounced visits by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Upon identification, all individuals under voluntary home isolation will receive calls and texts with information and reminders to call a doctor or DOHMH if they feel sick or develop symptoms, such as fever and cough or shortness of breath.


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