New York Moves Presidential Primary to June as COVID-19 Prep Continues
by Dan Clark • Published on March 28, 2020 • 0 Comments
Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to reporters on Saturday, March 28, 2020.
Credit: Dan Clark
New York will move its presidential primary to June 23, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday, to avoid people flocking to polling places in late April, when COVID-19 is expected to still have a strong presence in the state.
A special election for the 27th Congressional District in Western New York, which was scheduled for the same day, will also be moved to June 23, he said.
“I don’t think it’s wise to be bringing a lot of people to one location to vote. A lot of people touching one door knob, a lot of people touching one pen,” Cuomo said. “So, we’re going to delay that and link it to an election that was previously scheduled on June 23.”
New Yorkers, as Cuomo said, were already scheduled to go to the polls on June 23. That’s the primary election for state legislative and congressional races.
The hope, Cuomo said, is that delaying the election for two months will reduce the risk of going to the polls, with the COVID-19 crisis projected to accelerate exponentially in New York in two to three weeks.
Cuomo said the state is still projecting that, around mid-April, hospitals will be overwhelmed in New York by the number of patients requiring care because of the disease. That could change if enough beds, medical supplies, and ventilators are made available in that time.
Four new temporary hospitals were approved by President Donald Trump early Saturday, Cuomo said. Each facility is expected to create 1,000 beds for COVID-19 patients.
They’ll be created at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, CUNY Staten Island, the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, and the New York Expo Center in the Bronx. That’ll give each borough of New York City a temporary hospital, with the Javits Center already chosen in Manhattan.
The state will also open three new sites to make nearly 700 beds available between them. Those will be at the South Beach Psychiatric Center on Staten Island, Westchester Square in the Bronx, and Health Alliance in Ulster County.
The South Beach Psychiatric Center and Westchester Square will only house patients diagnosed with COVID-19, Cuomo said. The same approach will be taken with SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn, which will provide another 250 beds.
The USNS Comfort, a naval medical ship, will also arrive in New York Harbor early next week, Cuomo said. The ship is expected to make an additional 1,000 beds available. The Javits Center facility will also open Monday, Cuomo said.
Since the disease was first diagnosed, 7,328 people have been hospitalized, Cuomo said. Of those, 1,755 have required treatment in the intensive care unit.
As of Saturday morning, 52,318 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in New York. The state has tested 155,934 people in the past month, Cuomo said.
The state Department of Health has also been given permission to start testing people for antibodies to the disease, Cuomo said, which could be a way of allowing individuals to go back to work. If antibodies are detected, that means the person has already had COVID-19.
The state has also started testing a combination of drugs that could be used to treat COVID-19. The cocktail — a combination of hydroxychloroquine and zithromax — has been met with skepticism by some scientists, who say it may not make a difference in treatment.