State may need an army to trace COVID-19 cases and keep numbers down

Governor Andrew Cuomo delivers his daily press briefing on COVID-19, Coronavirus (Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

By Mark Hallum

Governor Andrew Cuomo not only reviewed the numerical qualifications of keeping the spread of coronavirus under control but said there would need to be at least 30 tracing personnel for every 100,000 New Yorkers.

Moreover, the state will need to maintain a hospitalization rate of less than 70% of capacity and an infection rate below 1.1 in order to keep the number of COVID-19 cases below the “outbreak” level.

“When we talk about reopening, this should not be a political discussion… It is a factual discussion on reopening,” Cuomo said. “In this environment, it’s becoming rhetorical rather than factual. We want to reopen, but we want to do it without infecting more people or overwhelming the hospital system.”

In a discussion between President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Cuomo’s Republican counterpart said he gained more from federal briefings on COVID-19 in January and February, taking a dig at the other side of the aisle. Trump asked what DeSantis had learned to which he responded, “a lot more than the Democrats.”

Florida, which issued stay-at-home orders much later than other states which became hotbeds for coronavirus early on, is preparing to reopen next week. DeSantis was criticized earlier in the month for opening beaches despite cases still being on the rise in the Sunshine State as of three days ago.

As of Tuesday’s COVID-19 briefing, there were about 900 hospitalizations in the last 24 hours with 335 deaths across the state in the same time period.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, regions can begin reopening if their hospitalization rate is on the decline for up to 14 days, to which Cuomo said upstate New York would begin this process sooner than downstate and New York City. But New York’s reopening plan is the most data-driven in the United States, he said.

Cuomo explained that he was dealing with a situation that usually belongs to federal and international authorities to control the spread of, yet he said New York had no warning of COVID-19 prior to December or January. Health officials at the international level trace the genesis of the novel strain of coronavirus to mid-November.

“Governors don’t handle international pandemics,” Cuomo said of the international health organizations before turning to the media. “Where was the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, all the bugle-blowers who should have warned us?”

U.S. Intelligence agencies began sounding the alarm around this time, ABC has reported.

Cuomo additionally said he does not believe schools will reopen before summer break, but opening businesses before schools could be problematic.

“I really don’t know how you reopen businesses statewide without opening schools,” Cuomo said. “Because then you have a childcare problem.”

This story first appeared on amNY.com

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