Here is What's Happening Now in New York's Coronavirus Fight

NY Post - March 21, 2020

by Bernadette Hogan, Julia Marsh and Aaron Feis

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The coronavirus’ jarring impact on New York is comparable to the hell of the 9/11 terror attacks, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday, as the patient totals rose to a staggering 5,645 statewide and 3,954 in the five boroughs.

It “reminds me of 9/11, where one moment, which was inconceivable, just changed everything,” said Cuomo in his now-daily press briefing.

Cuomo said the two crises are of an “obviously totally different magnitude” but alike in the extent to which they upended New Yorkers’ lives — 26 of which have now been lost statewide.

“The stress, the emotion, is just incredible, and rightly so,” he said. “It will change almost everything going forward.”

These are the latest updates in the fight against the coronavirus from across the state and city:

Cuomo has now mandated that private businesses shift 75 percent of their staffs to working remotely in an effort to stem the spread. That’s a ramp-up from the 50 percent level he mandated in an executive order Wednesday. Separately, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that by Sunday, all non-essential municipal employees will either be telecommuting or awaiting a new assignment.

With thousands laid off ­owing to forced business closures, Cuomo announced a 90-day reprieve from mortgage payments for those out of work or on reduced hours. Homeowners will have to make good on the payments on the back end of their agreements, without late fees, he said, noting the break could be extended beyond 90 days.

The city’s first drive-through coronavirus testing center opened Thursday at the parking lot of the South Beach Psychiatric Center on Staten Island. It’s open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., by appointment only, by calling the state Health Department at (888) 364-3065. The facility has the capacity to process hundreds of people daily.

 De Blasio sent federal Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar a list of supplies needed by early April to keep the city’s first responders and hospitals equipped. The wish list includes 3 million N95 masks, 50 million surgical masks, 15,000 ventilators and 25 million each of surgical gowns, coveralls, pairs of gloves and face masks.

Four more people in the Big Apple have died from the coronavirus and 339 more are confirmed to be infected as testing increases across the five boroughs. The new figures bring the city’s total number of coronavirus cases to 3,954. A total of 26 city residents have now died from the illness.

 The corona­virus pandemic could be more devastating to the Big Apple’s hotel business than the 1987 stock market crash, the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the 2008 recession combined, the Hotel and Motel Trades Council said Thursday. “This is worse than all of those put together — 9/11 was insignificant compared to this,” council chief Peter Ward told NY1. The NYPD has 20 confirmed cases of coronavirus, while 14 members of the FDNY have been infected with the virus, The Post learned Thursday night. Twenty-three MTA employees have also tested positive for the coronavirus.

 Seven homeless people living in city shelters have tested positive for the coronavirus. “As cases rise across the country and the city, we anticipate cases will rise among the New Yorkers experiencing homelessness whom we serve,” said Department of Homeless Services spokesman Isaac McGinn.

As the number of people infected with the virus continued to soar in the Orthodox Jewish community Thursday, Hatzola leaders warned that things must change before it’s too late. Borough Park’s Hatzola, an emergency ambulance service catering to the Jewish community, sent an emergency robocall across the neighborhood Thursday afternoon, a day after two urgent cares in the area reported an alarming spike in coronavirus cases.