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Coronavirus Update: Number Of Cases Continues To Climb Across Tri-State; New Jersey's 1st Patient Speaks Out

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York has grown to 143, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday. That makes it the state with largest number of confirmed cases in the country.

In New York, most cases are in Westchester County, with New York City and Nassau County having the second and third most cases.

In New Jersey, there are now 11 cases, with six additional ones identified Monday. New Jersey declared a state of emergency Monday night.

Connecticut has two cases.

As a result, there are more school closures in the area and the financial markets are taking a big hit.

Cuomo also said New York state is implementing a policy where if a person at any school tests positive, that school will be closed for at least 24 hours for an assessment and make a determination about longer closures.

CORONAVIRUS: CDC Latest | NY Health Dept. | NYC Health Dept. | NY Hotline: 1-888-364-3065 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Hotline: 1-800-222-1222 | CT Hotline: 211

Officials continue to try to find where positive cases are, isolate and contain them.

One way to do that is by keeping our hands clean, and Cuomo has the answer for that.

Cuomo introduced "New York State Clean Hand Sanitizer," ceremoniously unveiled at the start of his Monday morning coronavirus briefing to address shortages and price gouging. It is made by prisoners through the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

Watch: Gov. Andrew Cuomo Gives Coronavirus Update

About 100,000 gallons of free alcohol-based hand sanitizer will be produced each week to help combat price gouging.

"We'll be providing this to governmental agencies, schools, MTA prisons because you can't get it on the market," Cuomo said. "It's much cheaper to make it ourselves than to buy it on the open market."

Cuomo also made a surprise announcement. One of the latest cases is a top transportation official in charge of the airports: Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority. Cotton is in his mid-70s and is asymptomatic.

"He'll be working from home and the senior team that work with Rick will also be tested," Cuomo said.

Watch: MTA Officials Discuss Coronavirus Response

The governor has been calling on the federal government to increase testing capacity at more labs so thousands of test can be done a day. Northwell Health labs on Long Island just got federal approval to begin manual testing as Suffolk County deals with its first confirmed case. Nassau county has 17 confirmed cases, including a cluster in Hempstead.

"We're going to be doing investigations into the new cases. We go through their contacts, where they go to school, where they go to work, how they get to work if they've traveled, been to a family gathering," said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.


In New York City, Mayor de Blasio said the good news is that more testing is getting done.

"We now have 205 tests that came out negative, which is great - 59 new since yesterday. So the rate of testing is really increasing rapidly. We have 86 pending tests right now," de Blasio said.

Nineteen New York City residents now have the coronavirus.

Watch: Mayor Bill de Blasio Gives Coronavirus Update

Officials are warning particularly vulnerable people - senior citizens and those with underlying health conditions - about large group gatherings. Large crowds include the subway.

"If there are alternatives to subways, that would work. If you can telecommute and that works with your company, do that. If you can, bike or walk to work," said MTA chairman Pat Foye.

Officials say if a train looks too crowded, wait for the next one, and the MTA's full fleet is being disinfected every 72 hours.

Officials have said time and time again the more they test, the more cases there will be. Identifying them, isolating them and treating them is key.

Over in New Jersey, 11 cases have now been identified. Monday night, Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency.

"Right now, the overall risk to individuals from the coronavirus remains low," Gov. Phil Murphy said. "But we are taking this step out of an abundance or precaution and prudence."

Murphy said the emergency declaration "responsibly removes bureaucratic barriers to make sure we have the resources and supplies our front line public health and safety professionals need to do their jobs."

"The fact that we are continuing to see additional cases is concerning but it is not unexpected. It follows the trend we're seeing around the country and world," said Judith Persichilli of the New Jersey Health Department.

James Cai, a 32-year-old physician's assistant, was the first patient who tested positive for the coronavirus in Fort Lee, New Jersey. (Credit: CBS2)

"People have to take coronavirus seriously. It's very serious," said James Cai, New Jersey's first coronavirus case. He spoke first to CBS2.

Cai works and lives in both Manhattan and Fort Lee. He went to an urgent care clinic and then the emergency room at Hackensack University Medical Center, where he's been hospitalized since Tuesday.

The 32-year-old physician's assistant, a non-smoker with no underlying health conditions, believes he contracted it while attending a medical conference in Times Square last weekend, saying the coronavirus spread quickly to both his lungs.

"The virus is everything. Dirarrhea, watery eyes, shortness of breath, chest pain, you name it. High fever," he said. "Every day is getting worse."

"It happened so quick," he said.

Cai said he has hope because his doctors are communicating with doctors in China on a daily basis to talk about his treatment.

Watch: New Jersey Officials Give Update On Coronavirus Outbreak

Cuomo says, as the number rise, he's urging calm.

"People are reacting like this is the ebola virus. This is not the ebola virus. This hysteria that you see, the fear you see, the panic, is unwarranted... . This spreads like the flu, but most people who have it will get on with their lives," Cuomo said.

School districts are closed in parts of the Tri-State Area and some universities are canceling in-person classes over fears people on campus may have been exposed.

The outbreak is also setting up the markets for another rough week on Wall Street.

Cuomo declared a state of emergency Saturday.

In New York City, where more than a dozen cases have been confirmed, school trips abroad and non-essential international travel for city workers have been canceled. The city is also offering financial relief packages for small businesses struggling due to the outbreak, expecting more to come.

"I think we could be well at 100 cases or hundreds of cases over the next two or three weeks," said de Blasio. "We have to be prepared for that reality."

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