“You want to use New York state as a laboratory? We are ready, willing and able,”
Cuomo gushed on Wednesday during his daily coronavirus press conference, addressing the Food and Drug Administration, which is conducting early-stage vaccine trials on a number of experimental coronavirus vaccine compounds.
New York was not only “energized, and creative, and ambitious” about turning its population into pharmaceutical guinea pigs, Cuomo suggested, it was only natural given its status as the global epicenter of the epidemic.
“You need a place to test [a vaccine] in large numbers, think of New York.”
Anything we can do to accelerate that vaccine, we will do.
Cuomo seemed to have confidence that the state’s economy would reopen soon, however. “We have the infection spread down to a manageable number,” he said, even while acknowledging that the state would be “going to a different place, which is a new normal” rather than reverting to status quo.
New Yorkers “MUST wear a mask or face covering in public in situations where social distancing is not possible,” Cuomo declared in an executive order also posted to Twitter on Wednesday. As examples, he mentioned public transportation and busy sidewalks.
The governor shied away from the possibility of criminal charges for not wearing masks, but hinted at “civil penalties” if people refused to follow the order and suggested neighborly surveillance would suffice for now.
By the way, people will enforce it, they’ll say to you, if they’re standing next to you on a street corner, ‘Where’s your mask, buddy?’ in a nice New York kind of way.
Calling for aid from the Trump administration, Cuomo claimed “large-scaling testing” was “the single best tool to safely reopen society” but insisted “we can’t get either diagnostic or antibody testing to scale without federal support.”
New York recorded 752 deaths with the coronavirus in the last 24 hours – a slight drop from the previous day – but Cuomo cautioned that “we are not out of the woods yet” and pledged to conduct 2,000 or more finger-prick antibody tests per day, focusing on first responders and healthcare workers.
The state is currently the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, with over 202,000 confirmed cases and 10,834 deaths with the virus, according to New York statistics.
However, casualty numbers released on Tuesday by New York City include close to 3,800 people who were never tested for coronavirus but merely assumed to have the disease.
The US has 614,482 cases as of Wednesday and some 132,276 fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Header: An empty Times Square is seen on the street following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New York City, U.S. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon