NEW YORK — New York’s state of emergency was extended through next month as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Saturday that officials will study COVID-19’s impact on children after three died from virus-related complications this week.
Gov. Cuomo declared an executive order late Thursday extending New York’s state of emergency to June 6. Originally issued March 7, the state of emergency extends Gov. Cuomo’s legal authority during the coronavirus pandemic.
The governor’s New York State on PAUSE executive order, which closed schools and nonessential businesses and enforced social distancing measures, is set to expire May 15. Thursday’s executive order, which created some confusion and was mistaken for an extenstion of the PAUSE order, did not affect the PAUSE mandate.
“Yesterday’s executive order extended the underlying legal authority for the emergency order, but did not change the text of any of the directives in NY ON PAUSE and so the expiration date of May 15 still stands until further notice,” Secretary to the Governor Melissa De Rosa said in a statement Saturday. “At that time, new guidance will be issued for regions based on the metrics outlined by Governor Cuomo earlier this week.”
The governor did not address the order at his coronavirus press briefings Friday or Saturday. He is expected to make an announcement Sunday about the order’s expiration date.
Officials are investigating evidence COVID-19 can cause severe illness in children — mimicking symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease and Toxic Shock Syndrome. Three New York children have died since Thursday from similar complications to date, including a 5-year-old boy.
“We thought young people were not affected by COVID-19,” Gov. Cuomo said Saturday afternoon during a pandemic briefing in Manhattan. “We’re not so sure of that fact anymore.”
New York hospitals have 73 reported cases of virus-related illnesses in children, predominantly from toddler to elementary school ages, Gov. Cuomo said.
The state Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are identifying national criteria to respond to this syndrome. State health officials will conduct a genome and RNA sequencing study to understand the disease and genetics of the illness in a partnership with the state Department of Health, the New York Genome Center and Rockefeller University. Results and recommendations will be shared with other states.
“It’s an inflammation of the blood vessels, which can cause heart problems,” the governor explained. “This is new and it’s developing.
“We still have a lot to learn with this virus and every day is an eye-opening situation.”
Seek medical attention immediately if your child has a fever lasting more than five days, severe abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting, a change in skin color such as turning pale or blue, trouble breathing, decreased amount or frequency of urination, racing heart rate or infants having difficulty feeding or drinking fluids, according to the governor’s office.
New York’s COVID-19 fatalities reached at least 20,550 on Saturday — up from 20,324 on Friday. The state saw 226 virus-related deaths Friday, including 173 in hospitals and 53 in nursing homes. The death rate remains flat after 216 fatalities Thursday and 231 fatalities Wednesday.
The state tested 1,153,768 people as of Saturday, revealing 333,122 total positive cases of COVID-19. New York’s hospitalization rates continued a downward trend to 7,776 patients Saturday, down 420, according to the governor’s office.
The governor noted the state had 572 new COVID-19 patients enter New York hospitals Friday — a new low.
“It hasn’t been that level since we started,” Gov. Cuomo said. “That is welcome news.”
A preliminary COVID-19 antibody survey showed downstate frontline workers were infected with the virus the same amount or less than New York City’s general population. The survey of 15,000 frontline workers showed 11 percent of conductors, 14 percent of bus operators, 14.2 percent of transit workers and 17 percent of station workers have COVID-19 antibodies, or were exposed to and recovered from the illness.
A recent preliminary state study showed 19.9 percent of New York City’s population has COVID-19 antibodies.
“That’s actually good news,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Fourteen percent is below the average infection rate for New Yorkers. All categories are below the NYC norm.”
Gov. Cuomo continued his weeks-long plea for federal lawmakers to pass COVID-19 legislation to fund state governments as legislators negotiate a fifth coronavirus relief bill on Capitol Hill. The state has a minimum $13.3 billion budget gap, and does not know how much it has to fund schools, hospitals or services like substance abuse programs, the governor said. The need for such programs have increased as drug, alcohol and domestic abuse have skyrocketed in the wake of the pandemic.
“It’s purely a function of what the federal government does,” Gov. Cuomo said. “This week, I hope, finally, the federal government passes a piece of legislation to help the states...How about (funding) the working people of this country...not just the corporations? ...As bizarre as the federal government is at times, I cannot believe they would turn their back on working Americans at this time.”
Of frontline workers, the governor added, “You want to say thank you? Provide the funding, not just the applause.”
The story has been updated to reflect clarifications on the executive orders issued by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.