In his April 22 press conference, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo described his visit yesterday with President Donald Trump at the White House as “productive,” saying that the two politicians put their differences aside to get down to business on how to tackle the COVID-19 crisis, federally, and in New York State. “To me, a productive visit means we spoke truth, we spoke facts, we made decisions and we have a plan going forward,” said Cuomo.
So, what, exactly, does that plan look like? Cuomo spoke of a state and federal partnership, which included three key ingredients: COVID-19 testing, which the state will be taking an aggressive handle of in the coming weeks (more on that in a second); federal funding for the state, which Cuomo said the president understood needed to happen and would work with Congress to pass legislation on; and the president’s waiving of the state’s FEMA relief cost (normally, a state has to foot FEMA 25 percent of the bill for disaster relief in the state; given that New York has the most COVID-19 cases in the country, that would’ve been a “cruel” conclusion, so the president waived it).
In the realm of testing, Cuomo said he’d agreed to double the testing capacity for the state from 20,000 tests to 40,000, which basically amounts to testing seven days a week, 24 hours a day (this doesn’t include the antibody testing underway in the state right now). Possibly the bigger task at hand, though, is the “tracing” once people are tested for COVID-19 and test positive. In other words, if someone tests positive for the virus, someone would need to trace all of the people that person came into contact with and then test and quarantine those people. In order to get the tracing done, Cuomo said the state would be bringing in an “army” to do so, including former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Johns Hopkins University; global health organization Vital Strategies; and both SUNY and CUNY, who would be offering up 35,000 medical students as would-be tracers.
From a macro perspective, Cuomo noted that New York is continuing to see a dramatic dip in the total number of hospitalizations, and the number of new COVID-19 cases entering hospitals has flattened. On April 21, a total number of 474 COVID-19-related deaths were reported, as opposed to the previous day, when there were 481. New York State still leads all states in the union with more than 250,000 COVID-19 cases and a little over 20,000 deaths.