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Cuomo Announces NYC Will Close Some Streets Due to Coronavirus

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Cuomo Announces NYC Will Close Some Streets Due to Coronavirus

2020-03-25 22:36:04

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Andrew Cuomo (Image source: Screenshot)

New York state keeps taking more and more drastic measures to control the coronavirus. When the area around New Rochelle was contained after it became a cluster, the state was one of the first to close down an area, and now entire states are doing it. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he may take the step of closing down some of the streets, as well as some parks and playgrounds, in New York City.

State and local officials want to force people to follow the requirements and practice social distancing. Cuomo explained that the city's residents aren't following the recommendation of maintaining a distance of six feet between each other. He said that guideline is "effective and necessary" to slow the progression of the disease.

"The plan is going to pilot closing streets in New York City because we have much less traffic in New York City. We have many fewer vehicles in New York City," the governor said at a press conference in Albany. By opening up the streets to foot traffic, he added, fewer people will be congregating in parks. "People want to walk. They want to go out and get some air. You want a less dense area, so pilot closing streets to cars, opening streets to pedestrians."

Cuomo explained the state's hospitalization rate is "moving faster than initial estimates," as now health officials are predicting that 140,000 coronavirus patients will be hospitalized over the next two to three weeks in the state. Previously, the estimate was only 110,000 beds by early to mid-May.

Currently, 3,800 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19 throughout the state, according to Cuomo, and 888 are in the ICU.

The Army Corps of Engineers is building temporary hospitals throughout the state to hold 4,000 of the expected COVID-19 patients. The state currently only has 53,000 hospital beds, which definitely won't be enough. When the peak of the pandemic hits, Cuomo said the state will need 40,000 ICU beds, though it only has 3,000 currently.

Along with discussing the closure of streets and the need for hospital beds, Cuomo also urged residents of the state to take advantage of the state's more than 6,000 mental health professionals if they are feeling anxious. He is setting up a mental health hotline as well. He noted that people shouldn't "underestimate" the impact of "emotional trauma."

While neither the city nor the state was home to the country's first few coronavirus patients, the city has become the epicenter of a major outbreak in the state, and the state has half the coronavirus cases in the country. The city has more than half the state's total. $1 billion has already been spent in the state fighting the coronavirus, and the governor suggests it may reach $15 billion total.

While the Senate passed the $2 trillion stimulus deal and $3.8 billion has been cleared for New York state, Cuomo said it won't be enough. "The hole is as high as $15 billion. How do you plug a $15 billion hole with $3.8 billion? You don't," he complained.

On Tuesday White House officials urged anyone leaving the New York City metropolitan area to self-isolate and monitor themselves for 14 days. Trump referred to the area as a "hot spot" for the virus.

"We remain deeply concerned about New York City and the New York metro area," said the White House's coronavirus response coordinator, Deborah Birx.

On Tuesday Cuomo used that news to again express his need for hospital beds, noting that the "troubling and astronomical" number of cases has increased the urgency for more beds, as the pandemic spreads "unabated."           

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