|March 29, 2020- Albany, NY- Governor Andrew Cuomo delivering daily press briefing on coronavirus in the Red Room of Capitol (Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday announced all NYS On Pause functions will be extended for the next two weeks. The Governor also directed the state nonessential workforce to continue to work from home for an additional two weeks through April 15th. The state will re-evaluate after this additional two-week period.
In-person workforce restrictions, which have been implemented through various Executive Orders —202.3 (restaurants and bars, gyms, fitness centers, movie theaters and casinos); 202.4 (local government workforces, school districts; village elections); 202.5 (malls, public amusement facilities); 202.6 (all non-essential reduce 50%); 202.7 (barber shops, salons, other personal care); 202.8 (DMV); 202.10 (non-essential gatherings of any size); 202.11 (extension of school district closure until April 15, 2020) — are also extended until April 15, 2020 to enable uniform extension and review of such restrictions, and any such restrictions may be extended by future executive orders.
Governor Cuomo also announced that New York State's Wadsworth Lab has developed a new, less intrusive test for COVID-19. The new test is done through a saliva sample and a self-administered short nasal swab in the presence of a health care professional. Additionally, health care professionals can self-administer the test without another health care professional present. This new test will help conserve personal protective equipment, or PPE, for healthcare workers, reduce potential exposure of the virus to health care workers and will allow the state to continue to test as many individuals as possible in New York amid the national shortage of the more intrusive nasopharyngeal, or NP, swabs. Self-collection of nasal swabs has been done before for other respiratory viruses such as flu and it has been shown to be effective and safe, and collection of a saliva sample is simple and non-invasive. This new testing will begin within a week.
The Governor also issued an executive order to allow schools to host day care free of charge.
After speaking with the state's major pharmacy chains, the Governor announced that pharmacies have agreed to offer free home delivery to help reduce long lines for prescriptions at their facilities.
"There is no state in the nation that is better prepared or better mobilized to combat this virus than New York," Governor Cuomo said. "The number of cases is still going up towards the apex, and the development of new, faster tests will be critical in flattening this curve, getting people back to work and returning to normalcy. The state's Wadsworth lab has developed a new, less intrusive test that will allow us to increase our testing capacity, as well as save valuable PPE for our healthcare workers. We will get through this because we are New Yorkers - we are strong, we have endurance and we have stability. We have a plan, we're executing that plan and we will manage any obstacle that we come across."
Governor Cuomo also announced, in partnership with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senator Jamaal Bailey, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., that the State is launching a new mobile testing site in Co-Op City, the largest public housing development (Mitchell Lama) in the country. This new mobile testing site located at the Bay Plaza Mall Parking Lot, AMC Cinema entrance in the Bronx will provide tests by appointment only and will prioritize symptomatic individuals who had close exposure to a positive COVID-19 case, health care workers and first responders displaying symptoms, and those working in or having recently visited a nursing home who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms. To get an appointment, New Yorkers can call the Coronavirus hotline at 1-888-364-3065.