ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed off on the $40 million emergency funding legislation to combat the novel coronavirus. The money will go toward equipment and staffing.
The Senate Majority Leader and Speaker of the Assembly were seated next to the Governor as he made the bill a law. In addition to the funding, it allows the Governor to “issue any directive” during a declared state disaster emergency, including a disease outbreak.
“I think, first, as a piece of legislation it was critical,” Cuomo said. “These quarantines, when we say someone has to be quarantined, or we have to set up a congregate quarantine facility, you need the legal authority to do that.”
On Monday, the Governor said the state’s goal was to be able to conduct 1,000 tests per day within a week. Those tests are being conducted at the state’s Wadsworth Lab in Albany.
“Getting our testing capacity up is critical,” he said. “We’re working with private laboratories where the Department of Health will share their testing protocol with those laboratories. But increasing the capacity of testing by bringing on those proven labs.”
The Governor is also amending the paid sick leave bill to include protections for people isolated or quarantined from work due to the virus.
“Their employer should pay them for the period of quarantine, and their job should be protected,” he said.
There are two confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York.
The first case was a 39-year-old healthcare worker in Manhattan, who recently traveled to Iran. She is at home with her husband, who is also being tested.
The second case is a 50-year-old man from Westchester County, who works in Manhattan and is now in the hospital. Cuomo said the man has not traveled to China or any of the other countries on the virus watch list. He also has an underlying respiratory illness, which makes the symptoms worse.
The Governor said more cases are expected as the outbreak spreads and testing increases. He said two families in Buffalo, who traveled to the area in Italy that had an outbreak, are being tested. They are isolated at home.
Washington State reported its ninth death from the virus on Tuesday, but health officials continue to report that the risk is very low.
So who gets tested and who does the testing? The New York State Department of Health said only people under investigation for having the virus are currently being tested.
Who makes that determination? Local doctors. They take into account travel history and medical condition.
All testing is being done at the Wadsworth Lab.
Despite the virus spreading, there is no mandate to test more people. Only people suspected of having coronavirus get tested.
If you have flu-like symptoms, see your healthcare provider. The state coronavirus hotline is 1-888-364-3065.
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