Head of NY Port Authority tests positive for virus, but Gov. Cuomo says fear may be ‘outpacing the facts’

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo revealed that the head of the Port Authority has been tested positive for the coronavirus soon after he warned of the public’s “anxieties” over the outbreak.

The Democrat governor admitted Monday that he “could have been in contact” with the PA Executive Director Rick Cotton, who has been visiting local airports in the New York area, but is not likely to have been infected.


(Source: ABC7 News)

Cuomo made the announcement during a press conference Monday, one day after he addressed the growing concerns about the coronavirus crisis on CNN where he acknowledged that “fear is actually outpacing the facts.”

The governor told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield on Sunday that, along with the government’s response to dealing with the outbreak of the virus, there is a need to address the public’s anxieties, which he blamed, of course, on the Trump administration’s “mixed messages.”


(Source: CNN)

Whitfield began by asking the governor about the origins of 16 additional cases of novel coronavirus in New York which brought the state’s totals up to 105 confirmed cases. Cuomo declared a state of emergency over the weekend in order to help contain the spread of the virus and during Monday’s press conference, updated the numbers to reflect that the state total is now 142, which is 37 more than Sunday – with 37 being reported in Westchester County.

“It is serious. But let’s just pause for a moment on how serious it is because I’m afraid that the fear is actually outpacing the facts,” he said on CNN Sunday.  “And we’re fighting the virus, but we’re also fighting this anxiety.”

Cuomo added that “people need to take a step back, a deep breath, and actually understand what we’re looking at.”

The three-term Democratic governor pointed to studies being done on the coronavirus and patients while sharing the latest numbers of confirmed cases and deaths.

“If it continues to spread, we’re going to have to take drastic containment measures, which means you basically shut down everything, which is what China did,” citing stringent efforts in China where the outbreak began in the city of Wuhan.

“That’s bad for the economy, it’s bad for business, it’s bad for society,” Cuomo added, before noting that the elderly population is especially vulnerable.

The governor admitted it is “not a perfect system” and that “you do the best you can” to address the continuing spread of the virus after Whitfield asked about dealing with those not yet showing symptoms.  He also urged businesses to encourage employees to work from home and to allow “liberal sick leave” before once again addressing the public panic.

“We need to reduce the fear and we need cooperation from the people,” he said.

“And we need the federal government to actually help, rather than hinder, and to tell the American people the truth and stick with the truth,” Cuomo said, adding that there is “tremendous anxiety” because people are “hearing mixed messages from the federal government.”

As of Sunday, there were 13 confirmed coronavirus cases in New York City and 82 cases just in Westchester County. Cuomo slammed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday as the state has been unable to do more testing.

“We mobilized quickly but the federal government has been slow off the mark and they continue to be slow. That’s unacceptable – we need them to approve these private labs today so we can stay ahead of this evolving situation. Worse than the virus right now is the fear pandemic – and getting these additional facilities online will ensure we have more facts that will help keep people calm.” he said at a news conference held at a private lab in New York.

While Cuomo echoed the Democrats’ repeated attacks on the president and his administration’s response to the outbreaks, the public’s panic, it seems, is the result of much media hype and the politicizing of the issue by lawmakers.

Fox News host Steve Hilton warned of the “catastrophic overreaction” to the coronavirus outbreak in his opening monologue on “The Next Revolution” Sunday.

“It seems to me that we’ve got a bunch of people in leadership positions in the media and business and Congress who are running around maximizing coronavirus without a thought for the harm they may be causing,” Hilton said, adding that we need to “stop this wild, reckless overreaction based on panic, not science”

The death toll in the United States due to the virus rose to 22 as of Monday as the number of confirmed cases nationwide crossed the 500 mark. But 16 of the deaths linked to coronavirus have been concentrated in Washington state due to a nursing home at the center of the outbreak.

One woman in her 70s and another in her 80s, who were residents of Life Care Center of Kirkland, died last week as a result of the virus.

According to an Associated Press report:

A team of 30 medical professionals from the U.S. Public Health Service began arriving at Life Care over the weekend to relieve exhausted — and ill — staff.

In its statement Saturday, Life Care said 70 of its 180 employees have shown COVID-19 symptoms and are no longer working. The facility said that it has 63 residents remaining — down from 120 before the outbreak — and that six of them have symptoms.

 

Two other Seattle-area senior communities also confirmed cases of coronavirus among its residents.

President Trump, who has continued to assure Americans that there is no reason to panic, accused the media and Democrats in a tweet on Monday of “doing everything… to inflame the CoronaVirus situation, far beyond what the facts would warrant.”

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Frieda Powers

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