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Coronavirus prompts regional Tri-state coalition response to pandemic

Governor Andrew Cuomo at a March 15 press conference regarding coronavirus. (Photo: Governor Cuomo's office via Flickr)

Governors from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are following agreed-upon procedures going forward to combat the spread of coronavirus and it means shutting down as much of the region as possible.

In a Monday news conference governors Andrew Cuomo, Phil Murphy and Ned Lamont said business such as bars, gyms and theaters would now face tight restrictions to prevent further spread of COVID-19 in each state as a coordinated, uniformed approach to containment.

But Cuomo was equally resolute that the transit systems in New York would remain available to the public.

Cuomo referenced the situation in China having calming down once the government placed similar restrictions and said the sooner, the better for Northeasterners.

“You look at the history, the faster and better societies close down the sooner they reopened, so that’s a word to the wise,” Cuomo said. “Everybody wants ventilators, everybody is looking for oxygen tanks, the federal government has a stockpile of emergency medical equipment. But, suffices to say, if the federal government doesn’t step up and doesn’t step up quickly, states are going to be forced to do whatever they can do on their own.”

This goes back to Sunday’s call from Cuomo that the federal government needs to flex the military might of the Army Corp of Engineers to set up makeshift hospitals and bring in the gear necessary to expand intensive care capacities.

Limitations on gatherings has been tightened down to 50.

According to Cuomo, as of Monday there had been 7,066 tests performed so far in New York with 950 confirmed cases. There are 158 hospitalized or about 17% of those currently effected.

“We had New Rochelle and Westchester and a lot of the infection that started there come right through Fairfield County, and that is a region. This is a virus that knows no borders,” Lamont said. “You look oversees at Singapore, Hong Kong in Asia where they really had strong social distancing measures and how they were able to flatten that curve and save hundreds of thousands of lives.”

Lamont then turned toward Italy and France in stating that “freer” countries had less success in dealing with coronavirus.

“Even if we’re able to flatten the curve in the most optimistic way, we’re badly out-gunned [in terms of hospital bed capacity] and that’s where we need the feds help step up,” Murphy said. “You saw what happened in China and other places where they were able to build new hospitals and add new capacity in very short order; we have some catching up to do.”

When asked whether the three governors would consider cutting off public transit, Cuomo simply said “not here.”

Murphy gave a more nuanced response.

“We’re looking at capacity on an inter-route basis… We’re trying to right-size the equipment to the ridership,” Murphy said. “Huge focus – as it is in New York and Connecticut – on hygiene, cleanliness, making sure all our equipment is as clean and germ free as possible, that’s been our big focus.”

Lamont said ridership on the rail systems is “way down” but internet companies were working to increase capacity to allow people to work from home.

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