Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that to date 40,000 healthcare workers, including retirees and students, have signed up to volunteer to work as part of the state’s surge healthcare force during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with more expected to sign up in the coming weeks. Additionally, more than 6,000 mental health professionals have signed up to provide free online mental health services. New Yorkers can call the state’s hotline at 1-844-863-9314 to schedule a free appointment.
Governor Cuomo also announced New York City will pilot closing streets to vehicles and opening them to pedestrians as part of the city’s plan to address the lack of adherence to social distancing protocols. As part of the plan, the Governor is also enacting a voluntary playground social density protocol that prohibits close contact sports such as basketball.
The Governor also urged the federal government to implement a “rolling deployment” of equipment and personnel to address the critical needs of hotspot areas with high numbers of positive COVID-19 cases instead of providing limited quantities to the entire country at once. As part of the plan, the Governor has pledged to personally manage the deployment of supplies and equipment and technical assistance to the next hotspots around the country once New York State’s number of hospitalizations begins to decrease.
The Governor also announced that the Four Seasons Hotel on 57th street in Manhattan is the first of several hotels that are providing their facility to serve as housing for nurses, doctors, and medical personnel during this crisis. The 350 room hotel will provide medical personnel currently working to respond to the coronavirus outbreak lodging free of charge.
“New York is the canary in the coal mine – we have the most positive cases in the nation and the most critical need for equipment and personnel,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are doing everything we can to flatten the curve and slow the infection rate so the influx of hospitalizations doesn’t overwhelm our healthcare system. Thousands of New Yorkers have selflessly volunteered to be part of our surge healthcare force and support the hospital surge capacity, but we need more ventilators and more hospital beds now, and we need the help of the federal government to get them. Different regions have different curves at different times, but New York is first, and once we get through this we can use our experience and supplies to help other states to get through this pandemic.”
At Governor Cuomo’s direction, the Public Service Commission today approved orders postponing rate increases for nearly 2 million customers of New York American Water and National Grid upstate that were scheduled to go into effect on April 1st. This will provide relief to families and businesses affected by COVID-19. NYAW’s increase will now go into effect in September and National Grid upstate’s will go into effect in July. These are the only major utilities in New York State that were due to increase their rates on April 1. The Department of Public Service is asking other utilities to consider postponing rate increases, depending on continued movement reductions due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Finally, the Governor confirmed 5,146 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 30,811 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 30,811 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the State is reporting 5 in Herkimer County.