As more coronavirus cases surfaces, Cuomo keeps message the same

Coronavirus Bill Signing
March 3, 2020 – Albany, NY – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signs coronavirus legislation during a ceremony in the Red Room at the State Capitol. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

There are now six confirmed coronavirus cases in New York State, but even as the number of infected patients grows, Governor Andrew Cuomo continues to attempt to assuage fears about the outbreak.

The newest cases involve the wife, son and daughter of the second coronavirus victim, a 50-year-old Manhattan attorney and Westchester County resident now under hospitalization and in serious condition. A friend of the patient who drove him to the hospital has also been diagnosed with the illness.

While the man continues to recover in intensive care at a Manhattan hospital because of a pre-existing respiratory condition, the situation for the newly diagnosed patients is not as severe, Cuomo noted. 

At a Wednesday morning press conference, Cuomo reiterated that the risk to healthy individuals from certain age groups is considerably low, but those with underlying conditions may find themselves in danger if they contract the virus.

“The people we are most concerned about, who are most vulnerable, are senior citizens and people with immune compromised situations… We’re worried about nursing home setting, senior care setting,” Cuomo said. “If you look at what’s even happening here in New York, it confirms that.”

The 39-year-old healthcare worker who returned from Iran and was confirmed to have the virus is recovering, Cuomo said, alongside her spouse who tested negative. Cuomo asserted that while the situation in China was grim, New York has a much better healthcare system overall.

“If you understand the facts there is no reason for undue anxiety,” Cuomo continued. “We’re now in this loop where ‘well, we’re testing one person, two persons, three…’ There are going to be dozens and dozens and dozens of people, and the more people you test the more people you’re going to find.”

The Westchester patient’s son attends Yeshiva University’s campus in Washington Heights, which has since closed to contain any possible spread. Certain services for those living on campus will stay open, according to the school.

“We are taking every precaution by canceling all classes on Wilf Campus in Washington Heights for Wednesday March 4, 2020. This includes all in-person graduate courses on that campus as well as at the boys’ high school,” a statement from the university said. “This precautionary step will allow us to work with city agencies and other professionals to best prepare our campus and ensure the uncompromised safety of our students, faculty and staff.”

Cuomo said the fatality rate for the disease in China was considered to be 2% as the country was unprepared for the epidemic, and since more measures have been put in place, that figure has now dropped. But 3.4% is the global average, according to Cuomo.

To put it into perspective, the governor added that there are 15,000 people in hospitals being treated with flu currently, though whether that is an estimate for the state or across the country was not expounded upon.

“So we have six cases in New York, only one is hospitalized,” Cuomo said. “That’s the context that is appropriate and truthful and determinative here.”

“Three family members of the Westchester resident who was diagnosed yesterday with the Coronavirus have tested positive for the Coronavirus,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement. “A female child attends SAR Academy and High School in the Bronx. A male child attends Yeshiva University in Manhattan and has not been on campus since Feb. 27. Both children and their mother, who also tested positive, remain in home isolation in Westchester.”

This story was updated at 12:25 p.m. Todd Maisel contributed to this report.