ALBANY – Gov. Andrew Cuomo Sunday asked all businesses in New York State to voluntarily close to fight coronavirus transmission and have people work from home.
“I’m asking them to aggressively consider work at home strategies, I’m asking them to aggressively consider voluntarily closings to help reduce density.”
Depending on the results, he could consider mandatory actions later on, Cuomo said.
Cuomo made the request as he announced a third death in the state and that total cases have jumped to 729. The three who died all had underlying medical conditions.
Of those 729, 137 were hospitalized, 65 were in the ICU and 46 patients were intubated. He also indicated more than 5,200 tests have been administered. The 729 total marked a 69 case increase from the day before.
The governor’s office reported eight total cases in Albany County, three of them new. (Albany County earlier Sunday reported 11). Montgomery County had one, a new case. Saratoga County remained at 3 (though Shenendehowa schools reported Sunday a staff member confirmed positive) and the governor’s office had two for Schenectady County.
Cuomo also wanted to work toward adding to the hospital capacity by converting buildings like dorms to hospital spaces. To do that, he said, he would need the help of the U.S. military, the Army Corps of Engineers.
He said he expected the numbers to rise to the level that the ICUs in the state will be overwhelmed, and the state will be short thousands of ICU beds and ventilators.
“A decision is easy when you have no options and here this nation has no options,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo asked President Trump in an open letter to use the Army Corps of Engineers’ expertise, equipment and people to retrofit and equip existing facilities, like military bases or college dormatories, to serve as temporary medical centers.
The governor also called for the federal government to authorize states to certify a wider array of testing labs and methods in an effort to maximize testing capacity to identify and isolate positive cases faster. And he wanted a uniform standard for when cities and states should shut down commerce and schools.
The state DMV is also moving to appointment only, to limit person-to-person contact, and revert to regular hours, rather than extended hours implemented in recent weeks to reduce lines.
Cuomo also ordered non-essential state personnel who work in Rockland County and areas south to stay home, Cuomo said. Cuomo has also asked the court system to postpone non-essential services.
Those areas were chosen as they have the highest density of cases and the numbers vary widely across the state, Cuomo said.
Cuomo also asked Chief Judge Janet DiFiore to develop a plan to reduce density in the court system, including limiting nonessential proceedings without disrupting the criminal justice system.
“Our goal is to slow the spread of the virus to a rate that the healthcare system can manage, and we’re doing that through aggressive testing and strong social distancing protocols,” Cuomo said in a statement later. “ut the anticipated wave of new cases theratens to crash our healthcare system, and we need national action from the federal government to address the quickly-evolving situation now.”