September 23, 2020

Cuomo Says Stimulus Bill Provides ‘Drop in the Bucket’ for N.Y.

(Bloomberg) — The stimulus package working its way through Congress is “terrible” for New York state, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., Governor Andrew Cuomo said.The $2 trillion in aid approved by the U.S. Senate includes $3.8 billion for New York state and $1.3 billion for New York City, Cuomo said, which he called a “drop in the bucket.” Lost tax revenue will cost Albany as much as $15 billion, he said.Cuomo has been the chief outside-the-Beltway critic of the Trump administration’s response to the outbreak, demanding that Trump invoke his national-security authority to speed production of ventilators and other medical equipment.He has also said that helping New York would also help other regions where the outbreak probably will flare up next.“The apex highpoint will be sequential across the country,” Cuomo said. “We’re asking the country to help us, we will return the favor.”Cuomo made his remarks at a news conference on Wednesday as he reported 5,146 new confirmed cases of the virus, for a total of almost 31,000. There were nearly 3,000 new cases in New York City, for a total of almost 18,000.Some news was hopeful. In spite of the skyrocketing numbers of new cases, Cuomo offered data showing that the health system has been able to handle the crisis so far.Only 3% of infections, fewer than 900, have required intensive care hospitalization with ventilator support, below the state’s current capacity of 3,000 beds — with the ability to quickly add as many as 14,000 ventilators from a stockpile.Slowing DownAlso, the restrictions on daily life in New York have slowed the rate at which hospitalizations were increasing. About 12% of confirmed coronavirus patients need hospitalization, he said, compared with 23% on March 18. The decrease could be attributed partly to expanded testing that has detected mild infections not requiring in-patient care.“This is a very good sign and a positive sign. Again, I’m not 100% sure it holds or it’s accurate, but the arrows are headed in the right direction,” Cuomo said.The state has not yet had to call on volunteer medical staff. For now and the near future, medical workers have enough masks, gloves, gowns and other equipment to protect them, Cuomo said. And at the current rate, the governor said he doesn’t anticipate having to make the grim choice of prioritizing ventilator assignments among patients.Still, the governor said the state ultimately expects to be slammed with 140,000 infections, with as many as 40,000 requiring intensive care. The peak of infections is coming in about three weeks, potentially overrunning the state’s ability to treat them, he said.Cuomo has repeatedly complained that too many New Yorkers aren’t taking social distancing seriously, particularly on streets and in parks.Hoops OutAuthorities are experimenting with street closures in New York City so that pedestrians can keep their distance from one another, Cuomo said. They’re also mandating social distancing in playgrounds, which means no close-contact sports like basketball.He said that law enforcement officers will be watching. “If it doesn’t happen, we will actually close down playgrounds,” Cuomo said.The state is racing to add hospital capacity to meet a projected need of 140,000 beds. In addition to the existing 53,000 or so hospital beds in the state, another almost 30,000 will be added by retrofitting dormitories at downstate public colleges, Cuomo said.(Updates with ventilator stockpile)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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