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Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Governor Cuomo Signs $40 Million for Coronavirus Response Law; Second Positive Case in NY Confirmed

March 3, 2020 - Albany, NY - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signs coronavirus legislation during a ceremony in the Red Room at the State Capitol. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

During a novel coronavirus briefing, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed into law a $40 million emergency management authorization for New York State's novel coronavirus response. This appropriation will allow the State to hire additional staff and procure equipment and any other resources necessary to respond to the evolving situation.

The Governor also announced he will amend his Paid Sick Leave budget proposal to specifically protect from termination people who are required to stay home from work because they are being isolated or quarantined as a result of the novel coronavirus.

The Governor also announced SUNY institutions will have students who are in study abroad programs in countries with high prevalence of novel coronavirus come home and will review all study abroad programs ahead of potential expanded travel restrictions by the federal government. SUNY is expected to release guidance later today.

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

"As the situation with the novel coronavirus continues to evolve, I want the people of New York State to know that their government is doing everything possible to confront and contain it," Governor Cuomo said. "Last week I proposed a $40 million emergency management authorization to ensure New York State has the resources necessary to most effectively respond. Last night, the Legislature voted to pass this measure, and I applaud them for their swift action that demonstrates their appreciation of the complexity of this situation and their commitment to responsive measures. While New York's overall risk level remains low, these actions will provide our doctors, hospitals and first responders with the tools they need to ensure the health and safety of all New Yorkers, and to prepare for any possible scenario."

This morning, Governor Cuomo also said there is a second confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in New York - a 50-year old man in Westchester who is hospitalized and in serious condition.

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo announced the world-renowned Wadsworth Center — the research-intensive public health laboratory housed within the State Department of Health — is partnering with hospitals to expand surge testing capacity to 1,000 tests per day statewide for the novel coronavirus. The Wadsworth Center will provide these hospitals with instructions on how to replicate the State's test, as well as help them purchase some of the equipment necessary to develop and validate the test.

The Governor also announced the state will institute a new cleaning protocol at schools and in the public transportation system to help stop any potential spread of the virus.

These announcements follow the Food and Drug Administration's approval over the weekend for the Wadsworth Center to begin tests for the novel Coronavirus — the first non-CDC test that has been given approval by the FDA. The first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in New York, a woman in her thirties, was done through the State's Wadsworth testing lab.

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

On Saturday, New York State received notification that the FDA approved Wadsworth lab's Emergency Use Application — EUA — request to begin novel coronavirus testing using the test that the State developed and validated at the Wadsworth Center. This test will allow the State to perform testing more rapidly than sending to the CDC and to respond expeditiously when and if there is a positive case to better protect the public health of New Yorkers. Upon receipt of lab specimens, the Wadsworth Center can complete testing within three to five hours.

The Wadsworth Center began testing on Saturday evening. Wadsworth's current testing capacity is as many as 200 tests per day, and the State Department of Health will work to expand capacity through expanded lab hours and the hiring additional staff.

The approval comes at a critical time as the CDC and the DOH have expanded testing criteria to include travel from other countries - specifically Italy, South Korea and Iran - and others without travel history where individuals are hospitalized with respiratory symptoms with no other explanation.

March 3, 2020 - Albany, NY - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signs coronavirus legislation during a ceremony in the Red Room at the State Capitol. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

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.

New Yorkers can call the State hotline at 1-888-364-3065, where experts 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 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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