Coronavirus Could Continue for 9 Months, Avoid 'Cabin Fever,' New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Says

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday that the majority of deaths as a result of coronavirus are among people over age 70. He also eased concerns over the state having 15 times the amount of positive COVID-19 cases by noting New York is testing an exponentially higher number of people than anywhere else.

Cuomo's latest press conference in Albany saw him reiterate his order that all state residents must stop going to work and stay in their homes unless their job is labeled 'essential' or they are seeking groceries, medicine or gasoline. The governor said the "drastic action" comes as more than 15,168 total coronavirus cases have been confirmed statewide, with 4,812 of them coming in the past 24 hours. New York, which has about 14,000 more positive cases than any other state, has also tested 61,000 people-- 15,000 recently. He cautioned residents to avoid "cabin fever" as the country may be battling the coronavirus spread for "four months, six months, nine months," adding that there is no way to know right now.

Cuomo reiterated his frequent calls for compassion among New Yorkers and said of the seemingly frightening data: "When you increase the number of tests, you're going to increase the number of people who test positive."

Cuomo said local New York City officials have 24 hours to send him a plan to solve its "density" problem, particularly in how people maintain social distance in parks. "You want to go for a walk? God bless you. You want to go for a run? God bless you," the governor said, urging city officials to "get creative" and potentially open city streets to walkers and joggers--who should maintain six feet of distance from each other.

State government data on death rates showed that 70 percent of those who have died in New York as a result of coronavirus were 70 years old and older, with the majority of the deceased having underlying health conditions. Eighty percent of deaths among people under the age of 70 had underlying health conditions.

Cuomo stressed that hospitals must double the number of beds currently available across the state, saying only 53,000 beds are now open--but the curve suggests a need for 110,000 statewide in the coming weeks. The governor said the state's coronavirus hospitalization rate is 13 percent, with 1,974 out of 15,168 positive cases being sent to health care facilities. He said he approved hospitals to be constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA as soon as "tomorrow" in the Javits Center, SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Old Westbury and the Westchester Convention Center.

"Hospitals must give us a plan to increase capacity by at least 50 percent," he said, adding that the state is waiving occupancy regulations in order to accomplish that goal.

More than 26,000 New York City residents have been tested for coronavirus, with nearly 7,000 being tested Saturday. Westchester County has tested more than 10,600 people, with 2,011 of those people being tested Saturday as well.

New York's testing of more than 60,000 people is at least part of the reason the state has more than 15,000 cases compared to the next highest, Washington State, which has 1,647 confirmed cases, and California with 1,518 confirmed and New Jersey with 1,336 positive cases.

He urged residents to settle in to their quarantine situations and avoid "cabin fever" pitfalls by preparing in advance - regardless of whether they are in a crowded space or a solitary space. "You can be isolated physically, but you don't want to be isolated emotionally ... if you're not alone and you're in the house with the family and the kids, that's a different set of emotional complexities."

"I live alone. I'm even getting annoyed with the dog living in one place. It's going to go on for a period of time. This is not a short-term situation. This is not a long weekend. This is not a week. The timeline, nobody can tell you, it depends on how we handle it, but between 40 and 80 percent of the population will wind up getting this virus," the governor said.

"It's going to be hard, there is no doubt, I'm not minimizing it and I don't think you should either. But, at the same time, it is going to be okay. We don't want to overreact either. There is not going to be chaos, there is not going to be anarchy. Order and function are going to be maintained. Life is going to go on."

He urged New Yorkers to avoid chaotic behavior like hoarding at grocery stores, noting that they alongside transportation and all other essential services will be maintained. "The toilet paper is going to be there tomorrow," he quipped.

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo relayed the latest coronavirus statistics and told state residents to avoid "cabin fever." Screenshot: NY State | Twitter Livestream