ALBANY — New York’s governor is asking state lawmakers to approve spending $40 million to respond to the threat of the Coronavirus, while New York City has set plans that include making as many as 1,200 hospital beds available.
The state hasn’t had any confirmed cases of the new virus, but officials are waiting for test results regarding one person in Long Island’s Nassau County, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters Wednesday.
In separate news conferences, he and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio stressed efforts to get ready for a potential outbreak of the fast-spreading virus.
“Yes, we’re preparing, but this situation is not a situation that should cause undue fear among people,” Cuomo said.
Since emerging in China in December, it has sickened more than 81,000 people and killed 2,700 around the world. U.S. cases total more than 50 so far, and the White House has requested $2.5 billion for vaccine development, treatment and protective equipment.
In New York, Cuomo’s proposed $40 million would go toward hiring additional state health staffers and buying supplies including protective masks and gloves.
The Democratic governor said he also plans to propose legislation to help the state make sure hospitals and health departments are prepared for a possible outbreak.
He said he also plans soon to convene state and local health officials to develop uniform steps for handling quarantines and other methods of stopping the virus from spreading.
New York City has already coordinated a plan to devote 1,200 public and private hospital beds, if needed, to COVID-19 patients or people undergoing testing, de Blasio said.
“There is not a single reason for panic,” the Democrat said. “There’s a reason for people to focus and follow through on the basics. If we do that, we will all be safe.”
The city had previously quarantined three people for observation in hospitals and a hotel, but all have since gone home, said the city’s deputy mayor for health, Dr. Raul Perea-Henze.
The city also is seeking at least 300,000 more protective masks to add to the 1.5 million masks it has already given to health care workers and first responders, officials said. Police Chief of Department Terence Monahan said the force has distributed “thousands upon thousands” of gloves, masks and wipes to patrol, transit and housing officers.
With masks in high demand, de Blasio called on the federal government to step in to get more produced and to “help us and all other localities to get masks we need.”
New York City and state have been asking federal health officials for permission to do their own testing for the virus. Tests are now performed only at federal labs, and getting results can take a day or more.
In a conference call with media conference Tuesday, Dr. Nancy Messonier of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said officials hoped to be able to send test kits to more state and local government labs soon, after resolving some hitches.
“We are rapidly moving towards getting those kits more available in the U.S.,” she said.