NY Coronavirus Cases Hit 142, Including Official, EMS Worker

Photo: CDC

ALBANY — Coronavirus case numbers swelled in New York on Monday, with a New York City airport agency official and an emergency medical services worker among those infected. School closings, college class cancellations and other fallout from the virus continued to grow. Some key developments around the state:

New Cases

New York state’s coronavirus caseload rose Monday to 142 and now includes a key figure in managing busy New York City-area airports: Rick Cotton, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

He tested positive but has no symptoms and is working from home quarantine, the port authority said in a statement Monday. The agency runs Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports, among other facilities and transit services.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo noted that Cotton had been at the airports while travelers were returning from countries that have become hotspots for the virus.

Most coronavirus cases in the state are linked to a cluster in suburban Westchester County, north of New York City. But patients are spread from Long Island to the Capital Region, with at least 19 in New York City. A city Fire Department EMS worker in Brooklyn is among them, the worker’s union president said. Other local health care workers also have gotten the virus: A staffer at a Brooklyn nursing home was diagnosed last week in New Jersey, where he lives part-time.

For most people, the new virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and can be fatal.

The vast majority of people recover. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

Some 6% of the New York patients are hospitalized, Cuomo said, adding that most of them have underlying medical problems. Some have needed intensive care.

Meanwhile, the governor unveiled the state’s own line of hand sanitizer, to be provided to government agencies. Sanitizer has been running short in commercial markets; New York’s version is being made by prison inmates.

School Closures

Confirmed and suspected cases of coronavirus have led to a growing number of colleges and schools shutting their doors — and Cuomo said more closures will come.

He announced Monday that any school where a student tests positive will be closed for at least 24 hours for assessment, and schools in the Westchester County hotspot of New Rochelle will likely remain closed for weeks.

New York University said it would move to online-only classes starting Wednesday and continue them through at least March 27 after students return from a scheduled spring break next week.

Columbia University cancelled classes for Monday and Tuesday, then also planned to go to online instruction. Fordham University said it also planned to begin teaching online Wednesday. Hofstra University cancelled classes for the rest of the week.

Pharmacy Customers Contacted

CVS Pharmacy officials said they were helping state and local health officials contact patients who received prescription medication March 2 and March 4 from a northern New York pharmacist who has tested positive for the virus.

The Queensbury pharmacist was not displaying symptoms.

A hospital in nearby Glens Falls on Sunday canceled a planned public forum on the virus, saying it would instead post a video presentation.

Court Order

People showing up to federal court in Manhattan and some northern suburbs were greeted Monday with notices bearing a judge’s order: Don’t come in if you have had contact with anyone who has tested positive for the virus, or certain other criteria for possible exposure.

State courts aren’t considering similar measures for now, Cuomo said.

NYC St. Pat’s Parade Still On

Although Ireland canceled all St. Patrick’s Day parades nationwide, New York City doesn’t plan — at this point — to call off the massive March 17 parade on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday. But he said officials would watch the virus’ spread, with “all options on the table. … it’ll be a day-to-day thing.”


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