WATERTOWN — Northern New York will be cleared to reopen by the end of the week, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Wednesday at Jefferson Community College.
New York’s COVID-19 fatalities reached at least 21,279 on Wednesday — up from 21,113 Tuesday. Johns Hopkins University & Medicine’s online COVID-19 tracker, which includes probable virus deaths in its tally, listed the state’s virus death toll as 27,409 on Thursday.
The state saw 166 virus-related deaths Tuesday, including 122 in hospitals and 44 in nursing homes. The death rate is fluctuating slightly, but remains flat after 195 fatalities Monday, 161 on Sunday and 207 on Saturday.
The state tested 1,258,907 people as of Wednesday, revealing 340,661 total positive cases of COVID-19. New York’s hospitalization rates continued a downward trend to 6,946 patients Wednesday, down 117, according to the governor’s office.
“We have hopefully come through the worst,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Wednesday from Jefferson Community College in Watertown.
He also announced that elective surgeries will resume in 12 more counties across the state. Elective surgeries are set to resume statewide except in New York City, Long Island, and Rockland, Westchester and Erie county hospitals.
About 3.1 percent of the state troopers and 7.5 percent of state corrections officers have COVID-19 antibodies, or were exposed to and recovered from the illness, according to a preliminary survey. The state surveyed 2,750 state troopers and more than 3,000 state corrections officers.
The study showed downstate frontline workers were infected with the virus less than New York City’s general population of 19.9 percent. The survey of more than 20,000 frontline workers showed 14.2 percent of transit workers, 12.2 percent of healthcare employees, 10.5 percent of the New York Police Department and 17.1 percent of New York City firefighters have COVID-19 antibodies.
Healthcare workers having a lower infection rate than the general population proves correctly wearing and using personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face masks, gloves or gowns, reduces the virus spread, Gov. Cuomo said.
“You know what that means? That means PPE works,” the governor said. “Masks work.”
The state is prioritizing COVID-19 testing children as dozens of medical officials continue to study virus complications in children that cause inflammation of blood vessels and extremities, mimicking symptoms similar to severe illnesses such as Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome. Fourteen other states, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington and Washington, D.C., and five European countries — Spain France, England, Italy and Switzerland — have reported similar cases.
New York hospitals have 102 reported cases of virus-related illnesses in children — up from 100 cases Tuesday. Sixty percent of children with these symptoms tested positive for the virus with 40 percent testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies. About 14 percent were positive for both.
Of the state’s cases, 43 percent were hospitalized and 71 percent were admitted to intensive care.
“It does not present as a normal COVID case,” Gov. Cuomo said. “...Parents have to be aware of this. It’s a wide array of symptoms as you can see, which makes it even harder for a parent to know exactly what they’re dealing with.”
Medical attention should be sought immediately when a 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.
The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on its fifth coronavirus package, named the Heroes Act, on Friday. As it stands, the bill is expected to give $34.4 billion to New York, including $17.2 billion for New York City and $15.1 billion for other municipalities, according to a statement from U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.’s, office.
The act proposes to repeal the controversial State and Local Tax deduction, which allowed taxpayers of high-tax states to deduct local tax payments on their federal tax returns. Gov. Cuomo praised the proposed SALT repeal, saying it costs the state $29 billion.
The legislation will ensure support for state and local governments to fund essential services and lost revenues in the wake of the pandemic. The legislation includes U.S. Rep. Antonio R. Delgado, D-19’s, bipartisan Direct Support for Communities Act, introduced with Schumer, U.S. Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and U.S. Rep. Lee M. Zeldin, R-01.
“Our local governments here at home have managed our COVID-19 response and have done so while confronted with a shrinking tax base,” Mr. Delgado said in a statement Wednesday. “I am pleased to see the formula devised in my Direct Support for Communities Act included in the Heroes Act. The formula, which has both bipartisan and bicameral support, will ensure that every county, city, town and village in the country receives federal funding, regardless of size. These needed funds will support those providing essential services, from public health, to law enforcement, to firefighters, to teachers and beyond.”
Under the Direct Support for Communities Act, local relief funding would be split 50/50, with half committed to cities, towns and villages, and half committed to counties. The portion of emergency fiscal assistance for counties would be allocated across all counties based on population.
Gov. Cuomo continued his plea for the fourth day in a row Wednesday for federal funding for state and local governments, saying the state needs $61 billion in federal support to fund things like school districts, hospitals, police, firefighters and other essential services.
“The Washington bill should provide real, economic stimulus to help our nation rebuild,” Gov. Cuomo said of potential to improve national infrastructure. “...Need to stimulate the economy and create jobs — what every president has said, but none has done, Democrat and Republican.
“The future of the state budget is purely a function of what we get from Washington. I can’t make up $61 billion... That’s a larger budget hole than this state has ever faced.”