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Cuomo says more drastic measures could be coming if businesses do not heed closure requests

Cuomo: “I’m asking them to aggressively consider voluntary closings”

Editor’s Note: Click here for full-coverage of the novel coronavirus in the Finger Lakes.

Governor Andrew Cuomo asked private businesses across New York to consider shutting down amid the growing coronavirus outbreak.

He asked for voluntary closures, but hinted that more rigid action could be taken by the state.

“I’ve been talking to private businesses all across the state,” Cuomo continued. “I am asking them to aggressively to consider work from home strategies. I’m asking them to aggressively consider voluntary closings to help reduce density as a social responsibility to protect their workforce but I want private businesses to aggressively consider work from home and voluntary closings.”

“Depending on what businesses do, we could consider mandatory actions later on,” Cuomo continued. “Rather than 50 percent of occupancy it could be 40 percent of occupancy, 30 percent of occupancy, etcetera. I’m not doing that at this point but I am asking businesses to aggressively consider these measures. If the private sector does not respond voluntarily, if the spread does not slow, then I would increase the mandatory guidelines.”

He also called on President Trump to take comprehensive federal action to combat the virus. That request included developing an aggressive national strategy for testing, school closures and hospital surge capacity.

In an open letter to President Trump, the Governor urged Trump to deploy the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to leverage its expertise, equipment and people power to retrofit and equip existing facilities – such as military bases or college dormitories – to serve as temporary medical centers. “You’re going to need more hospital capacity. You’re going to need more facilities. You’re going to need ways to free up those 53,000 beds,” Cuomo said. “You’re going to need to construct or retrofit physical buildings. Acquire thousands of pieces of equipment like this. A state can’t do that. I don’t have that workforce. I don’t have the resources, but even if I had the resources, I don’t have the physical capacity to turn SUNY dorms into hospitals in 3 weeks. I can’t. There’s only one workforce that can do that. It’s the Army Corps of Engineers.”

The Governor called on the President, through the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to authorize states to certify a wider array of testing labs and methods in an effort to maximize testing capacity to identify and isolate positive cases faster. The Governor also called for a uniform federal standard for when cities and states should shut down commerce and schools, or cancel events.

Cuomo also confirmed 69 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 729 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 729 total individuals who tested positive for the virus.