N.Y.P.D. Has 500 Coronavirus Cases and 2nd Civilian Death: Live Updates

“I don’t know how that could be legally enforceable,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said shortly after the president suggested sealing off the U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

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Mr. Cuomo said that New York’s death toll from the virus had risen to 728, and that the state had recorded more than 52,000 confirmed cases of infection.

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New York Delays Presidential Primary

Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York announced on Saturday that the state’s presidential primary would be postponed until June because of the coronavirus outbreak.

We’re supposed to have a presidential primary election that’s coming up on April 28. I don’t think it’s wise to be bringing a lot of people to one location to vote. A lot of people touching one doorknob, a lot of people touching one pen — whatever you call the device — on the ballots. So we are going to delay that and link it to an election that was previously scheduled on June 23. The June 23 date is for state legislative races and congressional races. We’ll move the presidential election to that date. Projections change, but the models say you’re 14 to 21 days away from that apex, we call it, when that curve hits the highest point. We’re planning for that apex. We’re planning for the critical need and making sure we have the equipment, the staff, the beds for that critical need.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York announced on Saturday that the state’s presidential primary would be postponed until June because of the coronavirus outbreak.CreditCredit…Peter Foley/EPA, via Shutterstock

Minutes after President Trump floated the possibility of a quarantine for the New York region, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Saturday dismissed the idea, calling it “unworkable.”

“I spoke to the president about the ship coming up and the four sites, I didn’t speak to him about any quarantine,” Mr. Cuomo said at an afternoon briefing, referring to a hospital ship and four emergency hospitals being installed in New York.

“I don’t even know what that means,” the governor said of a potential quarantine of New York. “I don’t know how that could be legally enforceable. From a medical point of view, I don’t know what you would be accomplishing. I don’t even like the sound of it.”

Mr. Trump, speaking to reporters on the White House lawn, had said earlier in the day that he was considering imposing what he called, without elaborating, an “enforceable” quarantine that would restrict travel in and out of New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut.

“Some people would like to see New York quarantined because it’s a hot spot — New York, New Jersey, one or two other places, certain parts of Connecticut, quarantined,” Mr. Trump told reporters on the White House lawn. “I’m thinking about that right now. We might not have to do it, but there is a possibility that sometime today we’ll do a quarantine, short term, two weeks, on New York, probably New Jersey, certain parts of Connecticut,” adding that he would “restrict travel.”

“They’re having problems down in Florida,” Mr. Trump said in explaining his reasoning for potentially sealing off the metropolitan region. “A lot of New Yorkers going down, we don’t want that, heavily infected.”

“I’d rather not do it,” he added. “But we may need it.

Like Mr. Cuomo, Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey said he was unfamiliar with what Mr. Trump had suggested, and that it had not come up when the two men spoke on Friday.

Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut also responded, saying the state was already taking the appropriate measures, like telling residents to stay home and directing travelers to self-quarantine. “Confusion leads to panic,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City said that his office also had no information on a potential quarantine for the region.

“We don’t have any details and aren’t sure what the president means by his comment,” the spokeswoman, Freddi Goldstein, said. “What we know is that while New York City is the epicenter of this crisis right now, it’s in all 50 states. What we need is more supplies for our hospitals — that’s how we can save lives.”

Among the other highlights from Mr. Cuomo’s briefing:

  • The statewide death toll has reached 728, and the total number of cases stands at more than 52,000. More than 7,300 people are currently hospitalized. New York City alone has more than 29,000 cases, the governor said.

  • New York City officials reported separately that 517 people in the city had died as of Saturday morning after becoming infected with the virus.

  • Four new emergency medical sites have been approved — in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens and on Staten Island — that would add another 4,000 hospital beds. Some city hospitals will also soon be reserved for treating coronavirus patients exclusively.

  • New York’s presidential primary was postponed to June 23, and the state tax deadline extended to July 15.

  • The governor said that the state Department of Health had received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to start an antibody test to determine whether people have been infected with the virus and whether “they have an immunity to the antibodies.” Mr. Cuomo said it would be a “big breakthrough if that happens.”

  • The U.S.N.S. Comfort, a Navy ship with medical personnel and 1,000 beds, is on its way to New York from Virginia and is set to arrive on Monday. “We’ll use this to backfill and take pressure off a hospital,” Mr. Cuomo said.

  • There was some promising news: I.C.U. admissions dropped to 172 on Friday, from 374 the day before. “I wouldn’t put too much stock in any one number. But you could argue that the trend is slowing,” Mr. Cuomo said.

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Credit…Gareth Smit for The New York Times

A veteran detective with the New York City Police Department has died of complications from the coronavirus, the department said Saturday.

Detective Cedric Dixon worked in the 32nd Precinct, in Harlem, and had worked for the department for 23 years, officials said. He is the first officer from the Police Department to die from the virus.

Two civilian employees of the police department also died this week after becoming infected with the virus. Dennis Dixon, 62, died Thursday. Mr. Dixon was a custodian who worked at Police Headquarters in downtown Manhattan. Later Thursday, Giacomina Barr-Brown, 61, died from complications of the virus. Ms. Barr-Brown worked in the roll call office in the 49th precinct.

“We have lost three members of our family in a little over 48 hours,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said at a news conference on Saturday. “As I stand here I cannot begin to describe what we are feeling.”

According to data released by the department on Friday, 442 officers and 70 civilian employees of the police department had tested positive for the virus. A total of 4,111 uniformed employees were out sick, which is about 11 percent of the department’s police force.

The department has faced criticism in recent weeks for not properly outfitting officers with protective equipment, like gloves and masks. Earlier this month, as the coronavirus crisis worsened in the city, the city’s largest police union filed a lawsuit against the department accusing it of failing to provide necessary equipment to protect officers from the virus.

“We try to minimize risks, but it is impossible to eliminate risks,” Commissioner Shea said Saturday. “For first responders, you just don’t often have the opportunity to isolate.”

Governor Murphy reported 2,289 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing New Jersey’s total to 11,124, and 32 additional deaths, bringing the number to 140.

Mr. Murphy urged New Jersey residents to take the state’s rules against large gatherings more seriously, saying that those who flouted the restrictions would be arrested.

As an example, he cited a Ewing Township resident who was accused on Friday of hosting a party for 47 people in a 550-square-foot apartment with a D.J.

“This is a pass-fail test,” Mr. Murphy said. “This is life or death.”

The governor also said that major banks in New Jersey had agreed to a 90-day grace period on late mortgage payments for borrowers who had lost their jobs or were working less because of the pandemic.

On a different front, the colonel of the State Police, Patrick Callahan, said police dispatchers in New Jersey could now identify households with people who had tested positive for the virus, allowing officers to take extra precautions when answering emergency calls at those locations.

The information was obtained after the attorney general, Gurbir S. Grewal, obtained a legal waiver for the release of the addresses.

At least 700 police officers and troopers in the state have tested positive for the virus, the colonel said.

Several governors this week ordered people traveling from New York to self-quarantine for two weeks upon arriving, hoping to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus in their states.

Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island has gone further.

Ms. Raimondo, a Democrat, said on Friday that state troopers would begin stopping drivers with New York license plates so that National Guard officials could collect contact information and inform anyone coming from New York that they were subject to a mandatory, 14-day quarantine.

Ms. Raimondo also said the National Guard would begin going door-to-door in coastal communities this weekend to find anyone who had recently arrived from New York and tell them of the quarantine order.

The National Guard had already been deployed to bus stations, train stations and the airport to enforce Ms. Raimondo’s order, which also applies to anyone who has been to New York in the past 14 days.

“I know it’s unusual. I know it’s extreme, and I know some people disagree with it,” Ms. Raimondo said at a news conference on Friday.

She added: “Right now we have a pinpointed risk. That risk is called New York City.”

Ms. Raimondo insisted that her emergency powers gave her the authority to impose the measures, but the American Civil Liberties Union called her move an “ill-advised and unconstitutional plan.”

About 10 percent of the shelters in New York City’s main shelter system have now been affected by the spread of the coronavirus, and the number of people living in shelters and infected with the virus has climbed to 70, officials said.

Out of about 450 traditional shelters, commercial hotels and private apartment buildings used to house homeless people, 45 shelters have had individuals who have stayed there test positive for the virus, according to the Department of Social Services.

Two of the people, a man in his 60s and a man in his 70s, died this week after being hospitalized. As of Friday, 26 remained hospitalized, the social services agency reported.

The nature of single-adult shelters, where people sleep in dormitory-style quarters and share bathrooms, has posed a unique challenge to those trying to comply with rules for social distancing meant to help contain the spread of the virus.

But more homeless people outside of the shelters are contracting the virus. The social services agency reported that four people who were living unsheltered had been confirmed as having been infected.

To try to reduce the virus’s spread, the agency has set up special isolation units at three locations for people who have either tested positive themselves or have been exposed to people who did. As of Friday, 122 people were staying in the units.

Women preparing to give birth at some hospitals in New York City will no longer have to labor alone, nor will they need to remain isolated from their partner or family while recovering in the hospital after delivery, state officials said.

Melissa DeRosa, a top aide to Governor Cuomo, said that an executive order would be issued on Saturday requiring all New York hospitals, both public and private, to comply.

“Women will not be forced to be alone when they are giving birth,” Ms. DeRosa said on Twitter. “Not now, not ever.”

The move came after a decision this week by two major New York City hospital systems, NewYork-Presbyterian and Mount Sinai, to ban support people — such as spouses, family members and doulas — from labor and delivery rooms because of the coronavirus pandemic.

NewYork-Presbyterian said in a statement on Saturday that it would comply with the requirement. The Department of Health had notified hospitals on Friday that they were required to allow one person to accompany a woman through labor and delivery.

“I’m days away from my due date, and I’m trying to mentally prepare for both scenarios,” said Kate Dinota, 32, who plans to give birth at Weill Cornell Medical Center.

NewYork-Presbyterian changed its policies after pregnant women who were positive for Covid-19 but asymptomatic exposed more than 30 hospital workers to the virus.

Reporting was contributed by Christina Caron, Melina Delkic, Nicole Hong, Alyson Krueger, Jeffery C. Mays, Sharon Otterman, Nate Schweber, Ed Shanahan, Liam Stack, Nikita Stewart, Katie Van Syckle, Tracey Tully and Ali Watkins.

  • Updated March 24, 2020

    • How does coronavirus spread?

      It seems to spread very easily from person to person, especially in homes, hospitals and other confined spaces. The pathogen can be carried on tiny respiratory droplets that fall as they are coughed or sneezed out. It may also be transmitted when we touch a contaminated surface and then touch our face.

    • What makes this outbreak so different?

      Unlike the flu, there is no known treatment or vaccine, and little is known about this particular virus so far. It seems to be more lethal than the flu, but the numbers are still uncertain. And it hits the elderly and those with underlying conditions — not just those with respiratory diseases — particularly hard.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

    • What if somebody in my family gets sick?

      If the family member doesn’t need hospitalization and can be cared for at home, you should help him or her with basic needs and monitor the symptoms, while also keeping as much distance as possible, according to guidelines issued by the C.D.C. If there’s space, the sick family member should stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom. If masks are available, both the sick person and the caregiver should wear them when the caregiver enters the room. Make sure not to share any dishes or other household items and to regularly clean surfaces like counters, doorknobs, toilets and tables. Don’t forget to wash your hands frequently.

    • Should I wear a mask?

      Experts are divided on how much protection a regular surgical mask, or even a scarf, can provide for people who aren’t yet sick. The W.H.O. and C.D.C. say that unless you’re already sick, or caring for someone who is, wearing a face mask isn’t necessary. And stockpiling high-grade N95 masks will make it harder for nurses and other workers to access the resources they need. But researchers are also finding that there are more cases of asymptomatic transmission than were known early on in the pandemic. And a few experts say that masks could offer some protection in crowded places where it is not possible to stay 6 feet away from other people. Masks don’t replace hand-washing and social distancing.

    • Should I stock up on groceries?

      Plan two weeks of meals if possible. But people should not hoard food or supplies. Despite the empty shelves, the supply chain remains strong. And remember to wipe the handle of the grocery cart with a disinfecting wipe and wash your hands as soon as you get home.

    • Should I pull my money from the markets?

      That’s not a good idea. Even if you’re retired, having a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds so that your money keeps up with inflation, or even grows, makes sense. But retirees may want to think about having enough cash set aside for a year’s worth of living expenses and big payments needed over the next five years.


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