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Second Coronavirus Case Confirmed in New York as Lawmakers Brace for Outbreak

Second Coronavirus Case Confirmed in New York as Lawmakers Brace for Outbreak
by Dan Clark • Published on March 3, 2020 • 0 Comments
Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to reporters March 3, 2020
Credit: Dan Clark
A second person in New York state has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, but officials said Tuesday that the 50-year-old Westchester man has no known connection to individuals with the disease, or areas of the world considered to be at risk.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters Tuesday morning that the man lives in Westchester, but commuted to Manhattan for work. He’s an attorney, Cuomo said.
“We are now going through possible connections to track down possible connections to find people,” Cuomo said.
It’s unclear how the man usually traveled into Manhattan for work — whether he drove or took public transportation. Cuomo said they’re looking into that now. He also traveled to Miami recently, but officials said Tuesday that likely wasn’t where he contracted the disease.
He had an underlying respiratory illness, Cuomo said, which made him more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19. He was initially treated at Lawrence Hospital in Bronxville in Westchester County, but has since been transferred to Columbia Presbyterian in Manhattan.
One of the man’s children attends SAR Academy, which closed in Riverdale Tuesday due to concerns about the positive diagnosis.
Temple Young Israel in New Rochelle has also been directed by state and local health officials to halt all services in response to the new case. Individuals who attended services on Feb. 22, or attended a funeral or a bat mitzvah at the facility on Feb. 23 were directed by county officials to self-quarantine until March 8 at the earliest.
Two families in Buffalo are also being tested for the disease, but those results haven’t come back yet, Cuomo said. They traveled to an area of Italy where the disease has spread in recent weeks.
“We also have two families in Buffalo who traveled to Italy and the part of Italy that has had an outbreak,” Cuomo said. “Those two families are now being tested and are isolated in their homes.”
The State University of New York is also considering bringing students home who are currently studying abroad. Cuomo said a final decision on whether to bring those students back would be made by the end of the day Tuesday.
“There’s a practical reason why you might want students to come home before travel from that country is stopped,” Cuomo said.
Those developments come after Democrats in the state Legislature approved emergency legislation overnight to allocate $40 million to the state Department of Health to prepare for a potential outbreak of COVID-19.
The legislation will also grant Cuomo additional power to issue directives in the event of a public disaster or emergency, like an outbreak. Cuomo would be able to bypass legal obstacles to issue directives “necessary to cope” with such a disaster, according to the legislation.
The powers wouldn’t be limited to the outbreak of a disease. Cuomo would be able to use them in the event of any public emergency, like an earthquake, a major bridge collapse, a cyber attack, and more.
Cuomo signed the bill during an appearance with the leaders of the state Legislature Tuesday morning.
“Those emergency measures were critical, and the amount of money was critical, and if you need any proof about how urgent that bill was, look where we were this morning,” Cuomo said.
The legislation had a slight hiccup overnight after Democrats in the state Assembly initially expressed concerns about how much Cuomo’s powers would be expanded under the measure. They ultimately agreed to approve it.
Cuomo’s new powers wouldn’t be permanent under the legislation. They’re set to expire in April 2021, according to the bill.
When asked Tuesday if he wanted the powers made permanent, Cuomo said they’ll cross that bridge when they come to it.
“Let’s see where it is in April,” Cuomo said.
That may not sit well with some lawmakers, who were partly satisfied that that powers for Cuomo would be temporary. There’s also a mechanism for the Legislature to revoke those powers by a majority vote in both chambers.
In the context of COVID-19, Cuomo has said he would use the powers to move quickly in the event that the disease continues to spread in New York.
“You have to be able to move,” Cuomo said. “Every day matters here and we have to have the funds to do that, and the resources to do that, and that’s what the bill was about yesterday.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Democrats Speak About Second Coronavir
Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a press conference with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins Tuesday morning to confirm a second positive case of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, in New York.