Two more people have tested positive for the coronavirus on Long Island, including the first patient in Suffolk County, bringing the local total to six, New York State officials announced Sunday.
Officials have previously said they suspect that three women may have contracted the virus from a 42-year-old Uniondale man and Mercy Medical Center staffer being treated at NYU Winthrop University Hospital. But it was not immediately clear how the new fifth Nassau County patient or the Suffolk patient may have picked it up. The new LI total does no include an Uber driver from Queens who New York City officials said had driven around LI.
“If you get this virus, you will get sick, you will recover, you will most likely not even go to the hospital,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who declared a state of emergency Saturday, told reporters Sunday during a news conference in New Hyde Park, where he tried again to allay fears. “The facts do not justify the frenzy. The fear is just unwarranted.”
The new statewide total is 105 cases, with the bulk in Westchester County. There have been more than 400 cases reported nationwide and 19 deaths as of Sunday. The most vulnerable are those with compromised immune systems.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said the first patient in his county is a man in his early 40 who is currently hospitalized and in isolation.
“Suffolk County communicable disease professionals have begun a thorough investigation into the patient’s contacts as it is believed that this case was contracted via community transmission,” Bellone said. “We are continuing to work closely with the New York State Department of Health to ensure a swift and effective investigation. While we continue to do all that we can to avoid a wide-spread outbreak, we are asking the public to do the same. If you are sick, stay home and contact your primary care physician to avoid spreading any illness to others.”
The governor called on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to authorize automated and private labs to test for coronavirus. He held the news conference at the Northwell Health Imaging at the Center for Advanced Medicine, which he said is equipped to process the tests.
“Get this lab to work,” he said. “Why you wouldn’t make absolutely no sense.”
Cuomo also blasted President Donald Trump for saying “anyone who wants to get tested can get tested” despite the fact that testing capacity is limited. The governor said increasing capacity for testing is essential to containment.
“We don’t have the testing capacity that we need,” Cuomo said. “Not everybody who wants a test can have a test. We have to prioritize … Once we increase our testing capacity we can have more tests.”
The governor also warned businesses not to price gouge customers seeking cleaning products such as bleach and hand sanitizer.
“Any store owner who is doing this should really think twice,” he said.
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