New York is in a state of emergency as coronavirus cases surge over 160. Here’s what the state is doing to address the outbreak.

New York is in a state of emergency as coronavirus cases surge over 160. Here’s what the state is doing to address the outbreak.

A Metropolitan Transportation Authority worker sanitizes surfaces.
A Metropolitan Transportation Authority worker sanitizes surfaces.

AP Photo/Kevin Hagen

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in New York as the number of coronavirus cases surged.

  • As of Tuesday, there were at least 160 confirmed cases statewide, with 25 in New York City. 

  • Ninety-eight of those cases were reported in Westchester County, which is north of the city.

  • Cuomo has accused the CDC of responding to the outbreak too slowly and is making efforts to ramp up testing statewide. 

  • Thousands of people are self-quarantining, schools are shutting down, and more and more people are working from home.

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At least 160 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in New York state, with 25 cases confirmed in New York City. 

On Saturday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency to speed up the government’s ability to purchase supplies and hire healthcare workers to aid in the monitoring of thousands of self-quarantined patients. 

As cases surged over the weekend, Cuomo accused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of responding too slowly to the outbreak and not approving of enough testing centers.

“CDC, wake up. Let the states test. Let private labs test. Let’s increase as quickly as possible our testing capacity so we can identify the positive people,” he said. “Not to be using this laboratory, not to be using the other private labs around the state makes no sense whatsoever.”

A growing number of schools are shutting down throughout the city, thousands are self-quarantining, and people are increasingly being encouraged to work from home.

Here’s how New York is responding to the coronavirus outbreak.

There are at least 160 cases in New York state, with 25 confirmed in New York City.

wuhan coronavirus new york city
wuhan coronavirus new york city

Reuters/Bryan R. Smith

The majority of cases in New York state have been confirmed in Westchester County.

As of Tuesday, there were 98 confirmed cases in Westchester County, 25 in New York City, five in Nassau County, two in Rockland County, two in Saratoga County, one in Suffolk County, and one in Ulster County.

New York has become the second US state to report more than 100 coronavirus infections, after Washington.

Multiple cases have stemmed from New York’s second reported coronavirus patient, a 50-year-old man in Westchester County who spread the illness to at least 28 others. He remains in critical condition.

Among the 25 cases in New York City include an Uber driver from Queens, three family members on the Upper West Side, two women in Brooklyn, and a  man from the Bronx. On Monday, the first case was confirmed in Staten Island, meaning that at least one person in every New York City borough who has tested positive for coronavirus. 

A spokesperson from Staten Island University Hospital has said that any samples taken from their hospital will be sent to Northwell’s Long Island laboratory, where results are processed in approximately six hours.

When the lab becomes semi-automated, testing turnaround time will be close to three hours, and full-automated testing can eventually be completed in 90 minutes. 

On Monday afternoon, the head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Rick Cotton, tested positive for the virus. 

The number of cases is likely much higher than those confirmed because the US is lagging in testing patients.

On March 7, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency.

andrew cuomo
andrew cuomo

Reuters/Andrew Kelly

As cases surged over the weekend, Cuomo declared a state of emergency to expedite the process of purchasing necessary supplies and hiring the proper amount of healthcare workers needed to quell the outbreak. 

A state of emergency is declared when a governor believes a disaster may be imminent or severe enough to require state aid to local officials and quick action. 

According to a New York Times interview with Kryssie Woods, a hospital epidemiologist and the medical director of infection prevention at Mount Sinai West in Manhattan, declaring a state of emergency allows hospitals to house more patients and access testing supplies and equipment much faster. 

Washington, California, Oregon, and New Jersey have also declared emergencies.

Cuomo attacked the CDC during a press conference on Sunday.

Cuomo and de Blasio
Cuomo and de Blasio

Mark Lennihan/AP Photo

On Sunday, Cuomo said the CDC and federal government had failed to respond to the outbreak in a timely manner. 

This criticism came after Cuomo said multiple private labs in New York could be used for coronavirus testing if the federal government gave approval.

“The CDC has not authorized the use of this lab, which is just outrageous and ludicrous,” he said of Northwell Health Labs at the Center for Advanced Medicine in North New Hyde Park, Long Island, New York. 

“CDC, wake up. Let the states test. Let private labs test. Let’s increase as quickly as possible our testing capacity so we can identify the positive people. Not to be using this laboratory, not to be using the other private labs around the state makes no sense whatsoever,” he added.

Testing in New York City has remained limited — as of Saturday, only about 120 people in total had been tested for the virus. But after it requested additional aid from the federal government, the city received 23,000 tests over the weekend.

Schools have shut down throughout the state, including private universities and public high schools.

columbia university
columbia university

Columbia University’s library.

Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Thousands of students across New York City and surrounding areas will be out of class for at least a week as authorities attempt to slow the coronavirus outbreak.

On Monday, Cuomo announced that if a student in any New York school tested positive for the virus, their school would be closed for at least 24 hours and assessed by health officials.

Among the schools that have already closed down are:

  • Barnard College in Manhattan canceled classes until March 10 and will be taught remotely for the rest of the week.

  • Brooklyn Friends School in Brooklyn announced that it would close at 6 p.m. Monday. 

  • Columbia University in Manhattan will not hold classes on Monday and Tuesday and has offered remote classes for the rest of the week after a student was exposed to the virus.

  • Covent of the Sacred Heart in Manhattan will be closed until March 30. 

  • East Ramapo Central School District in Rockland Country will be closed through March 10.

  • Ethical Culture Fieldston School in the Bronx will be closed starting March 10.

  • Fordham University in the Bronx said it would transition to online classes on Wednesday after a student began displaying symptoms. 

  • Hofstra University on Long Island canceled classes for a week after a student exhibited symptoms of the virus. 

  • Horace Mann School in the Bronx has canceled classes until March 31.

  • Iona College in Westchester County will have classes canceled until March 13.

  • Keio Academy in Westchester Couty will be closed for the remainder of the school year.

  • Manhattan College in the Bronx will cancel classes through March 10, and move to online schooling on March 11. 

  • New York University in Manhattan has suspended in-person classes from March 11-27.

  • Poly Prep in Brooklyn will be closed this week, beginning on March 9. 

  • Princeton University in New Jersey announced it would move its classes online for at least two weeks after March 23.

  • Riverdale Country School in the Bronx will be closed to all students on March 10. 

  • SAR Academy and SAR High School in the Bronx will be closed until further notice.

  • Saint John’s University in Queens will suspend in-person classes until March 27.

  • The entire school district in Scarsdale, a suburb in Westchester County which announced it would close the schools until March 18 after a middle-school teacher tested positive for the virus.

  • The Brearley School in Manhattan will be closed through March 13. 

  • The Browning School in Manhattan will be closed until March 30.

  • The Julliard School in Manhattan has suspended in-person classes, as well as activities and performances between March 16 and March 29.

  • The Nightingale-Bamford School in Manhattan will be closed until March 30.

  • The Riverdale Day School in the Bronx will be closed until March 30.

  • United Nations International School in Manhattan and Queens have closed on March 10.

  • Wayne Township Public Schools in Passaic County will close on March 13 to prepare for a further possible shutdown. 

  • Yeshiva University in Manhattan canceled classes for a week after a student and two faculty members tested positive for the virus.

All international trips have been canceled for public schools in New York City.

empty plane coronavirus
empty plane coronavirus


As of Monday, there are no plans to shut down any of New York City’s public schools, and there have been no cases confirmed in public schools. However, Mayor Bill de Blasio has canceled all international trips affiliated with public schools. 

“I think parents want to see the schools keep going so long as it’s safe, want to see their kids getting educated,” de Blasio said in a news conference on Sunday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is bringing in 85 nurses across New York City schools and supplying cleaning products where necessary.

nurse coronavirus protective equipment hospital
nurse coronavirus protective equipment hospital

Eric Gaillard/Reuters

De Blasio said New York City would add 85 nurses to city schools throughout the week to ensure that every school building has a healthcare worker. 

Additionally, the city will be making spot checks to make sure there are enough cleaning products and soap for public schools. The education department will also administer aid to private, religious, and charter schools that lack the necessary products to curb an outbreak.

Cuomo announced that the state will produce 100,000 gallons of hand sanitizer to be given away for free to schools, prisons and government agencies.

Andrew Cuomo
Andrew Cuomo


On Monday, Gov. Cuomo announced that New York will begin producing 100,000 gallons of hand sanitizer to be administered for free, in response to reports that there is a supply shortage across the state. 

The hand sanitizer is being made by prisoners at Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Washington County and costs six dollars a gallon to manufacture. It will be given away to schools, prisons, government agencies, and the MTA. 

The decision to utilize prison workers for this task has received backlash amongst criminal justice groups, who view these efforts as exploitative. 

New York City will issue loans to small businesses in an attempt to protect the economy.

Mayor Bill de Blasio
Mayor Bill de Blasio

AP Photo/Richard Drew

In an attempt to protect New York City’s economy, de Blasio said small businesses with fewer than 100 employees were eligible for no-interest loans of up to $75,000 if they could prove sales had decreased by 25% amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

Additionally, businesses with fewer than five employees could receive grants of up to $6,000.

Thousands of people are self-quarantining.

shopper in brooklyn
shopper in brooklyn

Bebeto Matthews/AP Photo

By Friday, at least 4,000 people had been asked to self-quarantine, and more than half of those people were in New York City.

Nineteen people have been put under mandatory quarantine in New York City and could face charges if they break isolation.

But a lack of communication during the quarantine process has caused confusion for many New Yorkers. According to the New York Times, local health departments in the state are supposed to issue daily check-in’s for those who are under precautionary quarantine, but in many cases, they have not done so yet.

The CDC has issued guidelines for people who may have someone with an infection in their homes, as well as recommendations on what to buy to prepare for a quarantine.

Federal courthouses in New York are limiting who can enter their buildings.

Federal Courthouse in New York City
Federal Courthouse in New York City

A federal courthouse in New York City.

AFP/Stan Honda

Two of New York’s biggest and busiest federal court districts have issued orders preventing people who may have been exposed to the virus from entering courthouses. 

On Tuesday, the chief judge for the Eastern District of New York issued an order that prevents people who may have been exposed to the virus from entering any courthouses in Brooklyn or Long Island. 

On Monday, the chief judge for the Southern District of New York issued a similar order, barring those affected from entering courthouses in Manhattan and Westchester County. 

Those who have been specifically barred from entering the courthouses include: anyone who has traveled to China, South Korea, Japan, Italy or Iran in the last two weeks; anyone who has been asked to self-quarantine; and people who have tested positive for the coronavirus or been in contact with those who have.

Authorities are recommending that people avoid crowded subway stations and close contact with others, and work from home where necessary.

coronavirus nyc subway.JPG
coronavirus nyc subway.JPG


De Blasio has urged employers to be flexible with work hours and allow employees to work from home if possible. 

Additionally, he urged New Yorkers to avoid crowded subway cars and, where accessible, walk or bike to work. City officials confirmed that the coronavirus spreads when a viral droplet enters someone’s nose, mouth, or eyes, which makes a crowded subway car a susceptible place to quickly spread disease.

But New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade has not been canceled.

st. patricks day parade new york
st. patricks day parade new york

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Despite the number of cases rising throughout the city and state, de Blasio said that New York City has no plans to cancel its St. Patrick’s Day parade next week. The event draws over 100,000 people to parade down Fifth Avenue, with hundreds of thousands gathering in the streets to watch. 

In an interview on CNN Tuesday morning, Cuomo said they were weighing the possibility of canceling the event. 

“That’s one of the things we’re looking at,” he said. 

St. Patrick’s Day parades have been canceled all throughout Ireland, as well as in Boston, a city that hosts a sizable parade each year to celebrate its Irish-American community. 

Surrounding states, including New Jersey and Connecticut, are beginning to ramp up efforts.

Princeton University
Princeton University

John Greim / Getty Images

On Monday, Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey declared a state of emergency and public health emergency, after five new cases brought the state’s total to 11. 

Twenty-seven people are being monitored throughout nine counties in the state, and three of the most recent patients to test positive are being hospitalized. Last week, the state ordered school districts to develop plans for teaching students at home in the event that schools close during the outbreak. 

Connecticut reported its first case of the coronavirus over the weekend, a patient between 40 and 50 years old who was most likely infected on a recent trip to California. 

New York City already has a “contingency plan” developed in case the virus leads to mass casualties.

new york city cemetery
new york city cemetery

Washington Cemetery in the New York City borough of Brooklyn is seen in 2014.

Kathy Willens/AP

Only 25 people have been infected in New York City so far, but if the virus gets out of hand, the city is prepared to take on mass casualties. 

The New York City contingency plan was developed for ‘biological outbreaks’ in 2008 in response to concerns that the Bird Flu would cause a devastating influenza pandemic. 

The Bird Flu had a 2% mortality rate — approximately the same rate as the novel coronavirus — and authorities mapped out a plan to prepare with 50,000 deaths at the time.

To deal with an influx of dead bodies, the city would place refrigerated units outside of hospitals to increase their mortality capacity. Each unit would have the capacity to hold between 9 and 44 bodies until they could be cremated or buried. 

Additionally, inmates from Rikers Island would be transported to Hart Island to dig mass graves for the dead to be buried. Cremation efforts would also be ramped up.

In total, the coronavirus has infected more than 116,000 people and killed 4,000 worldwide.

So far, more than 116,000 people have been infected, and at least 4,000 people have been killed by the virus worldwide, with most of the cases in China. The US has reported over 750 cases and 27 deaths: 23 in Washington state, two in Florida, and two in California. 

Over the weekend, Cuomo tweeted, “We’re testing aggressively & we are seeing the number of confirmed cases go up as expected.” 

Over the next several weeks, officials are prepared to see hundreds of new cases in New York, primarily because of community spread, according to The New York Times.

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