(Reuters) – Hospitalizations of people with the novel coronavirus fell for a second day in New York and the state would send ventilators to Michigan and Maryland, further signs some control is being gained on the outbreak, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday.
Cuomo also disclosed an outline of his plan to reopen New York’s shuttered economy, starting with the most essential businesses, and said he would order people to wear masks in public when a safe distance from others could not be maintained.
Speaking at separate media briefings on Wednesday, both Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy talked about achieving a “new normal” as opposed to returning to life as it was before the outbreak. Cuomo stressed that the crisis would not be over until a vaccine was developed some 12 to 18 months from now.
New York and New Jersey are neighbors and account for more than half of the 30,000-plus deaths across the United States.
Cuomo, who on Monday declared that New York had passed the worst stage of the pandemic, said he would look to open up first those businesses that were most essential and where spread of the virus could be minimized. Both Cuomo and Murphy said rapid, mass-scale testing were critical to getting people back to work.
“We need to build a bridge toward a reopening of the economy,” Cuomo said. “We are going to a different place – a new normal.”
Cuomo said that a total of 18,335 people were hospitalized across New York because of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, down from 18,697 a day earlier, which had marked the first decline since the crisis began.
However, patients newly admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 came to 2,253 on Tuesday, up from 1,649 a day earlier, while 752 deaths were recorded, hovering around the same high level they have been at for the past week.
Murphy has said that New Jersey was at an earlier stage of the crisis than New York, and unlike Cuomo, has not called a peak for his state.
Contrary to the trend in New York, hospitalizations in New Jersey rose slightly to 8,270, with an additional 2,625 coronavirus cases recorded on Wednesday for a total of 71,030. The number of people who died rose by 351 to 3,156.
Cuomo repeated a call for the federal government to help roll out rapid testing on a mass scale, a process that he believes is critical to reopening the economy but one that states alone are ill-equipped to handle on their own.
“We cannot do the testing and tracing without federal assistance,” Cuomo said.
Murphy said a “robust” contact tracing program and widely-used testing gauges that give quick results, such as the saliva-based test developed at Rutgers University in his state, were pre-conditions to restarting the economy. The test was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulator.
“You’ve got to have both of those elements in place, or I don’t think you can reopen.”
On Monday, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island agreed to work together to devise strategies for easing stay-at-home orders and getting people back to work.
Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut and Maria Caspani, Jessica Resnick-Ault, and Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Chris Reese and Grant McCool