Coronavirus: New York governor declares state of emergency as 400 now infected nationwide

21 new cases in the state were confirmed on Saturday as the total number of infected across the country hits 400

Danielle Zoellner
New York
Saturday 07 March 2020 18:30
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Andrew Cuomo announced that there are now 33 confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York state

Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency in New York following the coronavirus outbreak as the total number of infected nationwide hit 400 and two deaths in Florida became the first fatalities on the East Coast.

Mr Cuomo made the announcement on Saturday when speaking at a press conference in Albany, New York. Twenty one new cases of the coronavirus were confirmed by the governor, bringing the total number in New York state to 76.

Of the 76 confirmed cases, 57 of them come from Westchester, which is posing a problem for the state. "Westchester is an obvious problem for us," Mr Cuomo said. “They talk about the contagion in clusters and the clusters tend to infect more and more people.”

In New York City, there are currently 11 cases of the virus, with seven new cases confirmed on Saturday. Ten people have been hospitalised over the illness.

An issue areas across the US are experiencing is the lack of tests available. New York has commissioned for "hundreds" of coronavirus tests and intends to request many more, Mr Cuomo said.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention gave New York permission to develop its own coronavirus test in commissioned labs. But Mr Cuomo also implored the agency to now allow automatic testing because it would "exponentially increase the number of tests you can do."

Officials in the state are also being "hyper-cautious" about nursing homes and other senior facilities because of elderly people's vulnerability to contract the virus.

But despite the growing number of cases, Mr Cuomo encouraged people to remain calm. He referenced numbers from Johns Hopkins showing that of the more than 105,000 positive cases, over 58,000 people have recovered from the virus.

New York joined other states like California, Maryland, and Utah to declare a state of emergency over the coronavirus. Declaring a state of emergency can help expedite funding.

Amtrak has also suspended its nonstop train service between New York City and Washington DC after the US East Coast confirmed its first two deaths from the coronavirus in Florida.

"The safety of Amtrak's customers and employees is our top priority," the company said in a release on Saturday. "We are closely monitoring the coronavirus and are taking action based on guidance from public health experts."

The Acela service will stop starting on 10 March until 26 May.

Amtrak said it would be removing train cars or cancelling services all together when there are convenient alternatives for customers. Reasoning behind cancelling trains comes as the company's experienced reduced demand for its services.

Like other public transport services in the US, the company said it was improving its cleaning protocol by sanitising stations and trains multiple times per day. New York City's subways and buses enhanced its own cleaning protocols this week.

More than 400 cases of the coronavirus in the US are confirmed as of Saturday. Washington state revealed two more people died, making it a total of 19 people in the US to have passed away from the virus.

Vice president Mike Pence later said that Americans should not be overly concerned, reiterating that it was the elderly with underlying conditions who were most at risk.

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