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Cuomo: New York keeping coronavirus under control, but needs federal aid

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo during a coronavirus briefing

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo during a coronavirus briefing at John F. Kennedy International Airport earlier this week. Credit: Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuo/Kevin P. Coughlin

This story was reported by Scott Eidler, Bart Jones, David Reich-Hale. It was written by Jones.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo renewed pleas Wednesday for federal help to states and cities affected by the coronavirus, while continuing to tout New York's performance in keeping the spread under control through its reopening phases.

He repeated assertions about New York and other northeastern states being net contributors to the federal budget and needing more of those funds back to avoid deep cuts to needed services and ease the impact of the fiscal crisis caused by COVID-19.

"We are very concerned about what we hear from Washington" about a recovery bill package that would refuse "to include assistance to state and local governments," Cuomo said during a telephone briefing.

"There have been numerous experts who have pointed out … that there will be no national economic recovery if you starve state and local governments," he added.

Cuomo later issued a joint statement with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, calling on Congress, and particularly the U.S. Senate, to include a $500 billion "state stabilization fund" in their next COVID-19 relief package.

"States are ground zero in this fight," the statement said. "We provide the critical services Americans depend on including public safety, education, health care, food assistance, local aid and transportation. We also employ over 20 million people across the country. And yet, of the $3 trillion in aid from four relief packages, no unrestricted federal support to stabilize state budgets and account for the economic loss states face as a direct result to fight COVID-19 has ever been included."

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New York State reported overall good numbers on the metrics tracking the virus' spread.

Out of 67,659 tests returned Tuesday, 705 people were positive for the virus, for an infection level of 1.04%. The level on Long Island was 1% and in New York City 1.2%.

“New York is doing very, very well," Cuomo said. "We expected the infection rate to go up after we reopened. We thought we could control it, but we thought it would go up. Actually, it hasn’t even gone up. It has gone down.” 

The number of new confirmed cases of coronavirus was 36 in Nassau County, 46 in Suffolk County, and 350 in New York City, according to state data released Wednesday. Nine people died of COVID-19-related causes Tuesday.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said that county's positive testing level was 0.9% — "where we’ve been hovering for about seven weeks."

After a few consecutive days of record low hospitalizations, Nassau reported seven new COVID-19-related hospitalizations, for a total of 43. There was also an increase of two ICU patients for a total of 10. 

Cuomo welcomed President Donald Trump's support for mask wearing to prevent spread as "a positive step forward," but criticized him for not going further and issuing a mandate requiring face coverings.

“Just by signing a piece of paper, the president could save 40,000 lives. Why wouldn’t you do that?” Cuomo asked.

Nationally, the United States reported 1,047 new deaths from the virus on Tuesday, and was nearing 4 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Trump on Tuesday changed his message, acknowledging the threat represented by the virus. On Wednesday, he discussed providing supplies and testing support for nursing homes and expressed concern about the pandemic's impact: “To every senior citizen who has been struggling to cope, we send our love.”

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