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Coronavirus Update: NY State Of Emergency Declared As Number Of Cases Soars

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency Saturday as the number of coronavirus cases in the state soared.

As of Saturday night, there were a total of 89 cases in New York State.

Eleven of those confirmed cases were in New York City. The majority of the cases are in Westchester County.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said seven new cases in the city were confirmed Saturday morning.

"We are seeing more community transmission between people who have no direct connection to travel to one of the affected countries," de Blasio said in a statement. "I urge New Yorkers to remain vigilant—not alarmed—and take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones. As we continue to see more cases of COVID-19, we will be providing as much guidance to New Yorkers as possible to keep our city safe."

The seven new cases include the wife and 11-year-old daughter of an Upper West Side man who had previously tested positive, a man who is currently hospitalized in Queens, two Brooklyn women who were recently on a cruise from Egypt, a Brooklyn man who recently returned from Italy and a Manhattan man who spent time with someone who tested positive for coronavirus in Chile.

The two Brooklyn women are at home in mandatory quarantine, as are the wife and daughter of the Upper West Side man.

The Manhattan man was discharged from a local hospital Saturday morning and is under mandatory quarantine.

The Brooklyn man who recently returned from Italy is in a local hospital in serious condition. Officials say the man is in his 30s.

Officials say the man who is currently hospitalized in Queens is in his 30s and is an Uber driver who drives on Long Island. He is not a Taxi and Limousine Commission licensed driver.

CBS2's Kevin Rincon reports State Sen. James Sanders Jr. says the case in Far Rockaway, Queens, is at St. John's Episcopal Hospital and as a result 40 workers have been quarantined.

In a release, de Blasio said, "There is no impact to hospital operations. The Department of Health is monitoring carefully at the direction of the mayor."


Officials also said that three New York City Public Schools teachers who had recently traveled to Italy all tested negative for the coronavirus.

When asked about risks to people coming into New York City for conventions, sporting events or concerts, Cuomo urged caution about large gatherings, especially for the elderly.

"If you are a senior citizen, I would think seriously about attending a large gathering now," said Cuomo. "I've said that to my mother."

Cuomo also noted 73 CUNY students flying back to New York after being recalled from overseas studies in Rome would be rerouted to land at JFK Airport where they had better facilities to process them.

Those students are expected to be in quarantine for 14 days, and those who could not self-quarantine at home would be placed in dormitory lodging in New York.

Long Island's first case was confirmed Thursday in Nassau County.

In a message to students, Uniondale Superintendent Dr. William Lloyd identified the patient as a 42-year-old man from Uniondale. The man is undergoing treatment at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola.

The majority of the New York cases are connected to a 50-year-old attorney from New Rochelle who works in Manhattan.

"One becomes two, becomes four, becomes 10, becomes 12," Cuomo said. "Then 12 people go out and touch 200, and 200 touch 400, and 400 touch 800, and that's what we're now dealing with."

Cuomo said that in Westchester County, all the new cases there were related to the New Rochelle cluster.

"If you had said day 1, everyone in New Rochelle must stay in their home, it could have reduced the rate," he said. "'Mandatory quarantine for everyone.' That's easier to do in China, but it would be tremendously disruptive to the economy, but there is no doubt massive quarantine is the best way to slow the spread."

Cuomo also announced outside visitors will be temporarily banned from New Rochelle nursing homes and senior centers.

Residents in the area have been receiving that information in robocalls from the mayor. In addition to the nursing home protocol, Mayor Noam Bramson also says the state will be setting up a local command center in New Rochelle.

Officials with Westchester Day School -- a private independent school in the Village of Mamaroneck -- say that a student tested positive for the coronavirus. They learned about the test results Thursday. The school will be closed until March 17.

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

Precautions are being taken throughout the area in Westchester County.

In White Plains, the Maple Medical Group at 30 Davis Avenue is closed and being cleaned and disinfected after a doctor there tested positive for the coronavirus. His wife and four children have also tested positive, and are under self-quarantine. Workers have been tested and they're determining which patients need to be contacted.

The Mastercard office building in Purchase closed after being visited by an employee from Brazil diagnosed with the virus.

Rabbi Reuven Fink, the rabbi of Young Israel of New Rochelle where the attorney at the center of most cases worships, is also among the more than a dozen patients connected to the lawyer. Rabbi Fink also teaches at Yeshiva University.

"Rabbi Reuven Fink, the Rabbi of the Young Israel of New Rochelle, who has been in self-quarantine for being in contact with his congregant who has tested positive has announced to his congregation that he also tested positive with the coronavirus," the school posted overnight. "Rabbi Fink teaches two undergraduate classes at our Washington Heights campus. We have reached out to his students and recommended as a precautionary measure to self-quarantine until further notice.

Yeshiva University's Washington Heights and Midtown campuses have been closed for cleaning. They're expected to reopen Tuesday.

Friday night, Connecticut's governor announced that a Westchester County resident who tested positive for coronavirus works at Danbury Hospital in Danbury, Connecticut, and Norwalk Hospital in Norwalk, Connecticut. Hospital officials say before she self-quarantined in her home, she came in contact with a limited number of patients and some employees between the two hospitals.

"We have one of the great hospital systems in the country and if anybody's ready to handle this, it's Danbury Hospital," Gov. Ned Lamont said.

Watch: Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, Health Officials Address Hospital Employee Who Tested Positive For Coronavirus --

Rockland County announced its first cases of the virus earlier this week.

"We're here to inform you that we have two cases of coronavirus here in Rockland County. This is no surprise. This is what we were expecting for a while now," said Rockland County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Ruppert.

Dr. Ruppert said they're doing well at home.

Watch: Rockland County Officials On Coronavirus

Despite the rise in cases Saturday, Cuomo said the overall health risk to the state remained low.

Leaders say the state of emergency is actually a good thing in this case because it means more federal resources will be coming our way, CBS2's John Dias reports.

"This is not to make you panic. It basically means that the state is allowing us to get federal and state resources," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said. "It will also allow our EMS personnel to transports patients to quarantine locations other than hospitals should the need arise."

She says a state of emergency also means qualified professionals other than doctors and nurses will be able to administer coronavirus testing kits.

In the tri-state area and across the country, however, the actual tests are still hard to come by.

"We know that we have to be careful about who we test. They have to have criteria and symptoms that match or you're just wasting a limited supply," said Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein, Nassau County health commissioner.

On Long Island, Northwell Health is now getting the green light to test people as infected patients are quarantined at both Mercy Medical Center and NYU Winthrop Hospital. The commissioner of the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management says they plan to start a soft activation Sunday, which they do when there are terrorist threats or major weather events.

"It's a central location for everybody to meet to get the help and resources that they need," said Steven Morelli, emergency management office commissioner. "We'll also be fielding information from the local hospitals, so they can let us know should their census begin to increase, that their emergency rooms are starting to fill up with people saying they're not feeling well."

Cuomo again reiterated 80% of those infected will self-resolve, 20% may get ill and may require hospitalization, and it is most problematic for senior citizens, people with underlying conditions or compromised immune systems.

Health officials emphasized the illness was airborne and could only be transmitted through fluids. City officials also said they believe the virus can only live on most household surfaces for a few minutes.

The governor added New York health officials are looking at responses in China since the outbreak began there, including the use of telemedicine to diagnose and help patients without them leaving their homes.

According to CBS Baltimore, health officials in Washington, D.C., say two people from New York who tested positive for the coronavirus attended the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference there. Health officials say neither patient reported any symptoms while they were at the conference and there was no risk to other conference attendees.

Meanwhile, Amtrak is taking measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Starting Tuesday, Acela non-stop service trains between New York and D.C. will be suspended until May 26. The change does not affect Amtrak's other high-speed Acela service. The railroad will waive change fees on reservations made through April 30. Amtrak says it's also increasing the frequency of cleaning service on trains and at stations to multiple times a day.

As coronavirus concerns build, many worries now center around testing to determine how many are infected. There are questions as to how many test kits are currently available in New York and across the country.

This is especially important since not everyone shows symptoms.

This week Cuomo had outlined testing priorities in New York going forward:

  1. Those who have been in close proximity to a person who has already tested positive
  2. People who have traveled to a country with level 2 or 3 health notice from the CDC and are experiencing symptoms
  3. People in quarantine and develop symptoms while in quarantine
  4. A seriously ill individual who has not tested positive for other viruses

Cuomo also said violating voluntary quarantine rules is disrespectful to members of the community because it puts others at risk. He also says if you don't comply with it, there are other measures leaders are willing to take, but he did not go into specifics.

New Jersey had confirmed four cases, reported CBS2's Tara Jakeway on Saturday morning. Three were residents from Bergen County and one from Camden County.

According to New Jersey Department of Health Acting Commissioner Judith Persichilli, an additional four patients have tests pending while another 15 people are under investigation with testing expected to come late Saturday or Sunday.

Friday morning, President Donald Trump signed a sweeping spending bill to combat the spread of coronavirus, pumping $8.3 billion into prevention efforts.

"I asked for 2.5 and I got 8.3. I'll take it," Trump said.

Money from the bill will also go towards research to produce a vaccine.

It comes a day after Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the administration's admitted a shortfall in the number of coronavirus testing kits that are available.

"We don't have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward," Pence said.

Congress is investigating the slow rollout of the kits, which are just now reaching labs across the country. There are only 400,000 tests available nationally.

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