As the trend of slowing COVID-19 hospitalizations in New York continues, state officials are turning their attention to how and when to restart the state's economy.
There were 777 more COVID-19 deaths in the state by Friday, bringing its total coronavirus fatalities to 7,844. There were 159,937 confirmed coronavirus cases statewide by Friday.
Governor Andrew Cuomo noted at a news conference that the extraordinary death toll has all come in just 40 days since the state's first confirmed coronavirus case.
In what he called a "hopeful sign," there has been a dramatic decline in hospitalizations, and for the first time in weeks intensive care admissions were negative statewide.
With New Yorkers itching to get back to work, Cuomo has cautioned that the state will reopen gradually in phases and only once testing for the novel coronavirus has been brought to scale.
A second wave of infections is currently devastating Asian cities that seemingly declared victory over the virus too soon. The governor said continuing to observe social distancing is imperative to a true recovery.
Although New York continues to be a worldwide leader in testing, having administered more tests per capita than any country in the world, Cuomo says the state cannot bring testing to scale without federal help.
The private industry does not have the capacity to bring testing to scale and materials for the tests are scarce as nearly every country in the world competes for them, he added.
Cuomo recommended the federal government evoke the Defense Production Act to bring testing to scale as quickly as possible.
"We need an unprecedented mobilization where government can produce these tests in the millions," he said. "The New York State Department of Health is doing several thousand [tests]. We have 9 million people we want to get back to work."
Renewing his criticism of the Congressional aid bill, Cuomo said New York cannot reopen without a stimulus bill that proportionately addresses the virus's impact on the state.
"You need a fair federal stimulus bill," he said. "This is about helping the country come back."
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to draw comparisons to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in terms of its death toll and economic impact, the governor also called for the establishment of a COVID-19 Heroes Compensation Fund.
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