New York has 142 coronavirus cases, none in WNY

Mar 9, 2020

There are now 142 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in New York, more than any other state in the nation.

All of the cases are downstate. There are still no positive tests in Western New York and no New Yorker has died from COVID-19.

There are 98 cases in Westchester County, 19 in New York City, 17 in Nassau County, four in Rockland County, two in Saratoga, and one each in Suffolk and Ulster.

Cuomo said of the 142 affected people, only eight are hospitalized, most of whom had underlying illnesses. The others are recovering at home. The governor said people should not panic over the growing number.

"This hysteria that you see, this fear that you see, the panic that you see is unwarranted. We have dealt with worse viruses. This spreads like the flu, but most people will have it and they get on with their lives," Cuomo said, at an Albany news conference Monday morning.

The Erie County Department of Health, on Monday, announced its Public Health Lab now has the capability to test for novel coronavirus. The lab has received supplies and materials from the CDC and healthcare providers can now order COVID-19 tests from Erie County. Previous tests had to be shipped to Albany.

“Depending on volume, we expect that results will be available to physicians and our department within 24 hours or less, as opposed to the longer turn-around times with commercial labs, the NYSDOH Wadsworth Center and the CDC,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein, in a statement. “These kits are FDA-approved under the current Emergency Use Authorization.”

Cuomo said nursing homes should take "preemptive" and "hypercautious" measures, but state officials are not recommending closing homes to visitors. The governor also announced new protocols for schools.

"For all schools, we're going to set a policy that if a student tests positive in a school, that school is closed for an initial 24-hour period so that we can do an assessment of the situation and the facts and then make a determination going forward," Cuomo said.

Cuomo said the state has been consulting with the CDC over how to handle hotspots like New Rochelle, which is in Westchester Couty, and whether to close schools.

SUNY students who were studying abroad in countries where coronavirus is prevalent returned home this past weekend. There are three quarantine facilities on SUNY campuses, but the majority of students have chosen to quarantine at home, state officials said.

Cuomo also unveiled a new state-made hand sanitizer called NYS Clean. The 75% alcohol sanitizer, which is being made by prisoners, will be distributed at no cost to government agencies, schools and prisons, among other agencies. Cuomo said 100,000 gallons will be produced per week.

One government official who has tested positive for COVID-19 is New York Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. He is in quarantine at his home.

A public informational session will be held at 5 p.m. Monday at the Moot Community Center on High Street in downtown Buffalo. Officials from the city and county, including Burstein, will be there to answer any questions about risk factors, testing, quarantine, or travel.