Health and Science

Gov. Cuomo says New York has most coronavirus cases in US as new cases jump 30% overnight to 421

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New York state now has more cases than any other state in the U.S. as the number of newly confirmed infections surged by 30% overnight to 421, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.

"This is not going to be a quick situation. This is going to be weeks, months," Cuomo said at a press conference in Albany, N.Y. "My guess is there are thousands and thousands of cases walking around the state of New York."

On Friday, the cluster of cases in New York surpassed Washington state for the first time, Cuomo said, adding that there are 420 confirmed infections in Washington.

The fast-moving virus is rapidly spreading throughout the U.S., and the number of cases changes by the hour. It wasn't clear whether Cuomo's information was out of date; Washington state's health department updated its case count to reflect 457 total confirmed infections and 31 deaths. The nation's first COVID-19 patient flew into the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Jan. 15 from Wuhan, China.

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New York's "numbers are spiking because our testing capacity is going up," Cuomo said, adding New Yorkers will see 1,000 more cases next week.

Cuomo said New York was ramping up its testing, having just received federal approval to allow 28 labs across the state that can process complex tests to begin running coronavirus tests. He said the state should be able to process 6,000 tests a day starting next week. So far, the state has been able to run a total of just 3,000 tests so far, he said. 

"At some point, you can't control the situation. And that is where we are," he said.

Cuomo said his own daughter is under "precautionary" quarantine after she was possibly exposed to the virus.

"How could I protect my daughter? Why didn't I protect my daughter? Because it's impossible. It's impossible," he said.

Earlier in the day, Cuomo's office confirmed that New York will begin its first "drive-through" testing center for COVID-19 in New Rochelle, where cases have surged in recent weeks. 

The state's confirmed cases reached 325 as of Thursday afternoon, according to the state's official website. At least 148 of those cases are in Westchester County, where the city of New Rochelle is located.

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On Thursday, Cuomo said the state is likely to see a spread of COVID-19 similar to that of China, South Korea and Italy, where the new coronavirus has millions of people under lockdown and has shuttered commerce.

"What makes you think that the virus in China, the virus in South Korea, the virus in Italy wasn't going to react any differently than the virus here?" he said. "You are going to see the same trajectory that you saw in China, South Korea and Italy, and it is going to happen here as the virus spreads, because of the way it is actually contagious."

Cuomo announced a ban on gatherings of 500 or more people across the state "for the foreseeable future" as public officials try to contain the fast-moving coronavirus outbreak. He said the state was trying to limit the contagion by reducing "density," or events where a large number of people gather in a close environment.