“We’ve Controlled the Beast,” But New York PAUSE Extended to May 15

Canal Street is deserted as the coronavirus crisis in New York continues.
Mark Hallum

Although three-day averages of hospitalizations and intubations are continuing on a downward trend and Governor Andrew Cuomo is confident New York has surmounted the peak of the current coronavirus outbreak, the PAUSE he announced late last month has been extended to May 15.

Governor speaks of phased reopenings, but cautions perspective is needed in assessing improved numbers

The governor reported 606 deaths since his previous briefing on Wednesday, the lowest level of fatalities in 10 days. The official death count in New York State now stands at 12,192. Though Cuomo said Wednesday that the state would be adjusting the death toll figures to reflect people presumed to have died from COVID-19 in accordance with federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, the state figures do not include 3,778 presumed fatalities announced earlier this week by New York City.

Cuomo cautioned that perspective was needed in assessing what the improved numbers mean.

“We’re talking about a reduction in increases,” he said. “You still have 2,000 people every day who are walking into a hospital for the first time or being diagnosed with COVID for the first time. Now we know we can control this disease. The worst news is over 600 people died yesterday from the disease. That is still continuing at a tragic, tragic rate.”

Of the 606 fatalities, 28 were in nursing homes, the Cuomo administration said.

Cuomo said the extension of PAUSE will be done in coordination with the six other northeastern states who have struck a pact. Elsewhere, Britain announced Thursday that it has extended its lockdown measures for an additional three weeks.

“You do it in phases of priority and then you phase it up the way we phased it down which is by percentages,” Cuomo explained. “And this is going to be an ongoing process that we’re going to be going through with the other states. This is going to be a moment of transformation for society and we paid a very high price for it. But how do we learn the lessons so that this new normal is a better normal.”

On Wednesday, Cuomo said he and other governors would decide which businesses can slowly reopen, as they are redefined as essential, while incurring minimal risk of reigniting the spread of the disease. To accomplish this, Cuomo once again called on the federal government to step in to provide lab testing resources across the state of nearly 20 million people.

“I’m very much looking forward to the federal government’s willingness to tackle this knowing that it’ll be imperfect at best,” Cuomo said.

The feds would also be needed to track cases to further isolate the virus which would take considerable resources, the governor added.