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City goes into ‘wartime dynamic’ against coronavirus after woman’s death: de Blasio

Mayor Bill de Blasio at a recent press conference on the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo via Flickr/NYC Mayor's Office)

Hours after Governor Andrew Cuomo confirmed the first death linked to coronavirus in New York City and state, Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed New Yorkers Saturday on the latest figures and a broader explanation of the current conditions.

The victim, according to the mayor, was one of the first confirmed cases in the city. She was identified as an 82-year-old woman with advanced emphysema who was being treated at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center.

It was a morbid reminder of the challenges awaiting the city, which de Blasio said is now in combat mode against coronavirus.

“As of 10 a.m. today [Saturday], we are at 183 cases,” de Blasio said. “We’re going into a full crisis footing, this is a wartime dynamic. We have to think about helping each other in different ways and it will take the people to solve this crisis, not just the government so we have to look out for each other.”

Approximately 80% of hospitalized cases in the are people above the age of 50, and 30% of them are being treated in intensive care units.

De Blasio’s address came following an announcement from Vice President Mike Pence that the travel ban between the United States and Europe would be expanded to the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, effective after the stroke of midnight on Monday.

Senator Charles Schumer, who attended Saturday’s press conference with de Blasio, said legislation for free coronavirus testing and paid sick leave would be expanded under a package of bills passed by the House of Representatives Friday. This, he believes, would cushion the economic blow for people affected by coronavirus.

However, before the Senate could receive the motion, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for recess. That news left de Blasio fuming at McConnell.

“I think we’ve directed a lot of ire at the president and federal agencies, but let’s be fair, how on earth did the Senate go out of session during a national crisis?” de Blasio charged.

The state would get $5.2 billion under the bill to provide medical care through FMAP, Federal Medical Assistance Percentages. This was something utilized to help Americans with medical care expenses during the 2008 financial crisis.

Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, added that the city would get $1 billion in relief, and the other counties of New York would get $400 million distributed from the $5.2 billion.

Three months of sick leave at two-thirds pay would be available for families effected by the coronavirus, the senator said.

“There’s a lot of money there and it will be used to help our states and localities that are on the front line with all of their other expenses. It’ll probably help the state solve some of their medicaid problems that we’ve talked about previously as well,” Schumer said at press conference with de Blasio at City Hall.

According to Schumer, President Donald Trump has said he would sign the bill once it’s passed.

City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot told New Yorkers to change their behavior about sickness and to self-quarantine if they are not feeling well until they are better.

“Frequent, thorough, consistent” hand-washing is recommended as the current conditions are expected to continue for “the long-haul,” she added.

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