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Cuomo wishes Trumps well, puts local governments on notice over COVID-19 enforcement

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, seen here in March,

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, seen here in March, sent well-wishes to President Trump and the First Lady on Friday. Credit: Office of the Governor

This story was reported by John Asbury, Alfonso A. Castillo, Matthew Chayes, Bart Jones, Joie Tyrrell and David Reich-Hale. It was written by Jones.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday offered his wishes for a quick recovery to President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump after they tested positive for COVID-19, and during a briefing called again for stepped-up enforcement to curtail spread in hot spots in New York City and several counties.

He said the state is putting local governments in areas with clusters of coronavirus cases on notice — either they enforce the laws to reduce spread or they will be deemed in violation, which an aide said could lead to fines of up to $10,000 a day.

Cuomo started the day with a statement on Trump.

"My thoughts are with President Trump and the First Lady and I wish them a full and speedy recovery. This virus is vicious and spreads easily," Cuomo said. "Wear a mask. Let's all look out for each other."

Trump had tweeted early Friday that he and his wife have tested positive for the virus. On Thursday, his close aide Hope Hicks tested positive for the virus, Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity.

Cuomo repeated again at his briefing that he hopes the Trumps recover and that, putting aside politics, "on a human level" he wishes them to feel better. "I hope the symptoms they get are mild."

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The governor, who has often jousted with Trump on coronavirus policies, said he is sending the First Family a get-well "New York Cares" package, including "fresh apples from Upstate farms, bagels from New York City, cheesecake from Junior's, chicken wings from Dinosaur BBQ and apple cider."

The developments have injected a new sense of uncertainty into the presidential election campaign, as Trump first said he would be quarantining in the White House for at least two weeks and departed later in the day to a military hospital. His next debate with Joe Biden had been scheduled for Oct. 15.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio, during his weekly segment on WNYC radio, said that there's a lesson to be learned from the Trumps testing positive: "Look, I think it's another reminder of why what so many of us have been saying is right, wear masks, practice social distancing, take it seriously, and of course this president didn't do that, unfortunately, and we've all paid the price. But look, I wish him a speedy recovery, obviously, for the good of all."

New York 'hot spots' remain a priority

Cuomo said the state continues to track hot spots, including "a small cluster in Nassau" though most of the cases that have driven up the positivity rate are in Orange and Rockland counties in the Mid-Hudson region and, he said today, in parts of Brooklyn and Queens in New York City.

States/regions in red are included on New York's travel advisory list as of Oct. 27, 2020. Guam and Puerto Rico, not pictured, are also on the list.

The overall positivity rate for the state, as measured by Thursday's test results, is tracking at 1.03% but the hot spots are at about 6.4%, Cuomo said. Long Island's percent positives are at 1.3% and New York City is at 1.4%, he said. Seven New Yorkers died of coronavirus-related causes on Thursday and 648 people remained hospitalized in the state.

Cuomo again declared that local governments are not doing enough to curb the spread.

"The local governments' responsibility is to enforce the law. I don’t need them to do a public education campaign," he said, noting New York State has already run dozens of public service announcements and spent millions of dollars spreading the word about to prevent spread of the virus. "You can't find a New Yorker who doesn’t know they are supposed to wear a mask."

County Executive Laura Curran said Friday that local compliance efforts continue. "This virus is serious and Nassau County will continue to take our enforcement of protocols very seriously. We cannot afford to go backwards and risk the tremendous success we’ve had reopening while keeping the virus at bay."

Valley Stream Mayor Edwin Fare said his village has been watchful. The ZIP code including Valley Stream and North Valley Stream was included among hot spots listed by the state this week for their higher positivity levels.

"In this time of heightened sensitivity to the COVID-19 illness, Valley Stream has never let our guard down" he said, adding that the village is "taking all precautions necessary to protect our residents and visitors to our community."

He said that "any positive test results are alarming, even when it is 4 out of 138" for the greater Valley Stream area including the village, with a population of about 38,000, and unincorporated parts.

Cuomo and other officials have noted that some hot spots in the state have large Orthodox Jewish populations, and he said this week he met with religious leaders from those areas, who pledged to help get people to adhere to preventive measures.

The governor said that with another Jewish holiday starting Friday night — Sukkot, or the Festival of Booths — he did not expect many problems because it is celebrated mainly outdoors under temporary, semi-open structures.

COVID-19 school closures continued

On Long Island, schools continued to be affected by students and staff testing positive.

Officials at Sachem High School North in Lake Ronkonkoma closed the building Thursday and Friday due to confirmed cases of COVID-19 among more than one student, read a letter dated Wednesday from Superintendent Christopher Pellettieri. Classes are expected to resume at the school on Monday.

The state’s COVID Report Card showed two positive cases — a teacher and a student — at Sachem High School East in Farmingville in the last week.

Bayport Blue-Point High School in Bayport was also closed Friday after a student tested positive for the virus, according to a letter to parents from Superintendent Timothy Hearney.

Patchogue-Medford school officials notified parents at both the high school and Tremont Elementary School that a student at each of the schools has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a letter dated Thursday from Superintendent Donna Jones. Tremont was open for classes on Friday.

The Long Island Rail Road announced Friday the second death of an employee to the coronavirus. Kyle Fulcher, 45, of Brooklyn, had worked for the LIRR since 2003 — most recently as a training specialist at the Hillside Support Facility.

Northwell Health on Friday said it has 102 COVID-19 patients at the 19 hospitals it owns and operates. It's the first time Northwell has had more than 100 coronavirus patients since July 20.

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