- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 25, 2020

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday said there is evidence that “density control” measures and restrictions could be having a positive effect on hospitalization rates, but that need is still outpacing projected supply amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr. Cuomo said New York City would launch a pilot program to close some city streets to cars and open them up for pedestrians.

“The evidence suggests that the density control measures may be working,” Mr. Cuomo said at his daily briefing on the COVID-19 outbreak in his state.

SEE ALSO: Cuomo: $2 trillion congressional deal would be ‘terrible’ for New York

He said on Sunday that projected hospitalizations were doubling every two days, compared to every 3.4 days on Monday and every 4.7 days on Tuesday.

“I don’t place a great deal of stock in any one projection …but this is a very good sign and a positive sign,” he said.

Mr. Cuomo has ordered all nonessential employees in the state to work from home and closed bars and restaurants, except for takeout or carryout orders.

He said that projections still put the expected need for hospital bed space at 140,000 and that the current capacity is about 53,000.

But coupled with his order that hospitals expand capacity by 50%, plus additional makeshift hospitals being set up with FEMA assistance and other measures, the total supply could end up somewhere around 119,000 beds.

Mr. Cuomo said New York City would “pilot” closing some streets to cars and opening them to pedestrians as part of density mitigation efforts.

He also said he’s asking the public not to play “close contact sports” such as basketball in playgrounds.

“If there is noncompliance with that, we will then make it mandatory, and we will actually close the playgrounds,” the governor said. “We don’t want to do that.”

New York is far and away the hardest-hit U.S. state in the coronavirus outbreak. As of Wednesday morning, there were more than 30,800 positive coronavirus cases in New York state and at least 285 coronavirus-related deaths.

The total number of U.S. cases is above 59,000, with more than 790 deaths.

Members of the White House coronavirus task force had said on Tuesday that people who recently left New York City should self-quarantine for two weeks.

Mr. Cuomo said the state is going to need 30,000 ventilators. There are 4,000 in the current system, the state has procured an additional 7,000, and 4,000 were coming from the federal government, he said.

He said the state was exploring a scheme where one ventilator could be used on multiple patients, noting that Italy was forced into a similar situation.

Mr. Cuomo also said an emerging $2 trillion financial rescue package in the U.S. Senate would be a terrible deal for New York and that he would like to see something closer to what House Democrats offered. The Senate could vote on the package as early as Wednesday.

He had ripped the federal government on Tuesday for offering what he described as a paltry supply of ventilators, but struck a more conciliatory tone on Wednesday.

After urging President Trump to more aggressively use the Defense Production Act to prod private companies on boosting production of medical supplies, Mr. Cuomo said the president and his team are using the Korean War-era law “well” as a leverage tool to spur on the private sector.

The DPA gives the president broad latitude on ordering certain procurement levels from private companies.

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump reported that he had a “good conversation” with Mr. Cuomo.

“The four hospitals that we (FEMA) are building in NYC at the Javits Convention Center are moving along very well, ahead of schedule. Many additional ventilators also delivered. Good conversation with Governor Cuomo!” the president said on Twitter.

The governor also said he talked to the president about the idea of a “rolling deployment” of supplies, where particularly hard-hit places like New York would get priority and then redistribute things across the country based on need.

“I personally guarantee that we will bring that equipment, we will bring that personnel, we’ll bring that technical assistance to the next hot spot,” he said. “I said to the president, I’ll be part of going to the next hot spot with our team. We’re asking the country to help us. We will return the favor.”

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