Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Governor Cuomo Announces $40 Million Emergency Appropriation to Support DOH Staffing and Equipment to Respond to Potential Novel Coronavirus Pandemic

February 26, 2020 - Albany, NY - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo speaks during a press conference on Coronavirus in the Red Room at the State Capitol. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a $40 million appropriation for the New York State Department of Health to hire additional staff, procure equipment and any other resources necessary to respond to the potential novel coronavirus pandemic. The Governor will also propose legislation to grant authority to DOH Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to ensure local health departments and public and private hospitals statewide take certain actions and measures in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak as needed. DOH will convene local health departments and hospitals statewide to review protocols, best practices and procedures to help ensure they are prepared to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Governor is also calling on the federal government to authorize the Wadsworth Center and NYC Public Health Lab to test for the virus, allowing for expanded testing capacity and expedited test results. New York State has independently worked to develop and validate a test using the CDC protocol. Upon FDA approval, Wadsworth can immediately begin testing to support New York State and other states in the northeast region if necessary. 

  (Photo by Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

Additionally, DOH will work with the MTA, Port Authority and its airport operators, and the authorities' respective workforces to ensure workers have the necessary training and access to supplies, including cleaning and protective equipment, they need to continue to operate mass transit systems and airports. The State is also coordinating with all state agencies to help ensure they are prepared to respond to the potential novel coronavirus pandemic.

"As we are seeing the novel coronavirus spread to new countries around the world, in New York we are continuing to take all necessary precautions to protect New Yorkers from this dangerous virus," Governor Cuomo said. "While there are still no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in New York, these aggressive actions including $40 million in emergency funding will help ensure our healthcare system is equipped with the necessary staff, supplies and equipment needed to respond to any emergency situation that may arise in the future." 

(Photo by Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

As of today, samples from 27 New Yorkers have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing, 26 have come back negative with one result still pending. There are still no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in New York State.

While there is currently no vaccine for the novel coronavirus, everyday preventative actions can help stop the spread of this and other respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Individuals who are experiencing symptoms and may have traveled to areas of concern or have been in contact with somebody who has traveled to these areas should call ahead to their healthcare provider before presenting for treatment.

(Photo by Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

New Yorkers can call the State hotline at 1-888-364-3065, where experts from the Department of Health can answer questions regarding the novel coronavirus. In addition, the Department has a dedicated website which was created as a resource with updated information for New Yorkers. The Department has also launched two public service announcements (PSAs) on the novel coronavirus, one featuring State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker and another with general information, that are running statewide in multiple languages.

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