New York is still struggling to contain the coronavirus outbreak across the state with 2,000 new hospitalizations a day, even as public officials make plans to gradually reopen parts of the economy for business, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.
Cuomo and other governors across the nation are desperate to loosen restrictions and reopen businesses that were shuttered to help curb the outbreak that's already killed more than 33,300 people in the U.S. since emerging from Wuhan, China, less than four months ago.
"The situation we have now is unsustainable. People can't stay in their homes for this length of time, they can't stay out of work. You can't keep the economy closed forever. You just can't," Cuomo said. "Society can't handle it personally or economically. So now we're moving into another phase, which is this reopening phase."
On Thursday, Cuomo announced that he was extending the state's shutdown of nonessential businesses to May 15 as officials try to strike a delicate balance of getting people back to work without causing cases to spike again.
Cuomo said people have had a "nice break" but they are anxious to get out of the house and get back to work without getting sick and dying. "Death is bad and even though staying at the home and not getting a paycheck is bad, it's not as bad as death. That's the yin and the yang here."
While hospitals in New York aren't as overwhelmed with coronavirus cases as originally predicted, Cuomo said the state is far from claiming victory.
The number of new Covid-19 cases admitted to the hospital "is still about 2,000 per day and that is still very high," he said. "And if you notice it's hovered about the same rate for several weeks. It peaked, but 2,000, that's a very high number."
Cuomo added that 630 people died on Thursday from the coronavirus, another daily figure that "refuses to come down dramatically." The number of deaths have been between 600 and 800 people per day for nearly a week.
Greater testing will be the "next frontier" in the state's battle against the outbreak, but it doesn't have a system that can handle the volume required to begin easing restrictions. New York has 301 labs and hospitals that are licensed to performed virology testing, but the challenge will be coordinating each facilities' efforts to perform testing across the state, he said.
The Democratic governor called on the federal government to help the state obtain the supplies required to conduct greater testing. Cuomo said that even if the state's labs are able to purchase the coronavirus tests, they're still struggling to obtain all the chemical reagents necessary to perform them. He said the major supplier of the chemical reagents is China.
"The federal government cannot wipe their hands of this and say, 'Oh, the states are responsible for testing,'" Cuomo said. "We cannot do it without federal help. I'm willing to do what I can do and more, but I'm telling you I don't do China relations, I don't do international supply chain."
Cuomo announced that he plans to sign an executive order directing all public and private labs, which are licensed by the state, in New York to coordinate with the Department of Health to ramp up diagnostic testing.
"The system does not do large-scale Covid testing," Cuomo said. "This test in and of itself is complicated and expensive, and you don't have the network that does that. It does not exist."
During the Cuomo's news conference, President Donald Trump tweeted that the federal government has "built you thousands of hospital beds that you didn't need or use, gave large numbers of Ventilators that you should have had, and helped you with testing that you should be doing."
When asked about the president's remarks, Cuomo said he's already applauded Trump for his previous assistance with hospital beds but doesn't need the "president of the United States to tell me that I'm governor."