Gov. Cuomo declared a state of emergency Saturday to deal with the worsening coronavirus crisis, as the number of cases jumped to 11 in the Big Apple — including a Queens cab driver — and 76 across New York.
Saturday’s numbers more than doubled the cases in the city, which stood at five on Friday, the governor said at a noon press conference. There were 21 new cases outside the city, from 44 the day before, he said.
“We are testing aggressively, said Cuomo. “The more positives you find, the better.”
Identifying people who have the virus is good, because they can be isolated and they won’t continue to infect people, the governor said.
He couldn’t say how many tests are being conducted, but said thousands have results still outstanding.
A state of emergency frees up $30 million that will be used to expand testing and purchase items such as masks and protective gear for healthcare workers, the governor said.
The Queens case — a man who is believed to drive for a ride-hailing service on Long Island, showed up at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway on Tuesday.
Other new cases include two people who were previously on a cruise, while the other five new cases were spread within the community, the governor said.
There are four cases in Nassau County, and two in upstate Saratoga County. One woman in Saratoga county had been in contact with a person from Pennsylvania who has tested positive at a conference in Miami, Cuomo said.
There are now 57 cases in Westchester County and two in Rockland County that can be traced to a cluster tied to attorney Lawrence Garbuz, 50, believed to be connected to the majority of the state’s cases so far, officials have said.
“Westchester is an obvious problem for us,” the governor said. “They talk about the contagion in clusters and the clusters tend to infect more and more people.”
Garbuz, a New Rochelle lawyer, commuted to work in Midtown by Metro-North before he fell ill and became the state’s second case earlier this week.
Since then, his wife, Adina, and two of his children, a 14-year-old girl and 20-year-old son, have tested positive, as did a neighbor who drove him to the hospital.
Garbuz is believed to have contracted the virus in Westchester and not through travel. Multiple members of The Young Israel of New Rochelle synagogue, where Garbuz worships, have also tested positive.
Cuomo said the state is reconsidering how to address the quarantine period for people in Westchester who are quarantined after coming in contact with people who have tested positive, to apply to their last contact with other people. The quarantine period is typically 14 days after last contact.
There is no need to cancel large gatherings across the board at this point, Cuomo said, although that may have to happen in Rockland and Westchester counties.
Cuomo said the state has a protocol in place to test people who are known to have contact with someone who has tested positive. As private labs ramp up their capacity, more tests will be available and the protocol will be expanded.
“You know what’s worse than the virus? The anxiety and the fear and the confusion,” he said.