Cuomo: 5 More People Connected To New Rochelle Patient Test Positive For Coronavirus

WCBS 880 Newsroom
March 05, 2020 - 9:26 am

THURSDAY, MARCH 5 UPDATE: Mayor Bill de Blasio has confirmed two new cases in New York City and Westchester County has confirmed 11 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the state's total to 24. Stay will WCBS 880 for the latest on this rapidly developing situation.


NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Five more people connected to a New Rochelle attorney who is hospitalized with coronavirus have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total of confirmed cases in New York to 11.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday afternoon the new cases are a 45-year-old man, his 46-year-old wife and their three children. The entire family, who is from New Rochelle, is under self-quarantine. A fourth child in the family has tested negative.

"The father of this family is friends with the lawyer who also lives in New Rochelle," Cuomo said. "He spent time with lawyer in multiple circumstances."

Earlier, officials confirmed that the attorney's wife, 20-year-old son who attends Yeshiva University, 14-year-old daughter who is a student at SAR Academy in the Bronx and his neighbor who drove him to the hospital have all been infected.

The 50-year-old attorney is being treated at NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital with the virus, while his family remains in isolation at their home. Cuomo said the man is in stable condition and improving.

He reportedly used Metro-North regularly to commute to and from work at the Lewis and Garbuz, P.C. law firm, located at 60 East 42nd St. in Midtown Manhattan, where his wife also works. Seven coworkers and an intern are being tested for the virus.

Cuomo said the man apparently had an underlying respiratory illness and no known travel history to China or other countries on the virus watch list, though he recently visited Miami.

It appears to be a community spread case.

“When you can't track it back directly to one place or one visit, I think that's what we're seeing today,” he said. “We have a case in Westchester, a 50-year-old gentleman, who did not travel to any of the places that are on the ‘watch list.’”

Mayor Bill de Blasio said a roommate and close friend of the Yeshiva University student, who was last on campus on Feb. 27,  have been transferred to Bellevue Hospital for testing.

Yeshiva University has canceled all classes on Wilf Campus in Washington Heights as a precaution.

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"This precautionary step will allow us to work with city agencies and other professionals to best prepare our campus and ensure the uncompromised safety of our students, faculty and staff," the school said.

Dormitories and food services will remain open for students who stay on campus. 

The SAR Academy and High School has also closed as a precaution and the school is urging students, parents and staff to remain calm.

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Westchester's health department has recruited nurses and detectives to retrace the man's steps, including where did he go and what did he do in Westchester County before going to the hospital. They will also investigate his family's movements. 

Hundreds of congregants of Young Israel of New Rochelle, where the man is a member, have been asked to self-quarantine over possible exposure to the virus. Young Israel of New Rochelle has also been directed to stop all services.

County Executive George Latimer says for now they are working to find out who might be sick and act accordingly in concert with their state and federal partners.

"It may be a natural tendency for us to move to the highest degree of concern, 'what if this and what if that?' those aren't illegitimate questions, but they are premature questions," Latimer said, adding that the key to containing the situation is making sure people know the facts. "There is a spread of a contagious virus. There's also the spread of misinformation and the spread of fear."

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Cuomo announced tests came back negative for people in Buffalo, Oneida and Suffolk County. The husband of a 39-year-old Manhattan resident who contracted the virus while working in Iran has also tested negative for the virus.

The governor said more cases are expected as the outbreak spreads and testing ramps up, but he stresses the anxiety over the coronavirus just doesn't match the reality of the situation.

"We're now in this daily mania — one case, new case, positive, negative. The more you test, the more positive cases you will find," Cuomo said.

For now that testing will continue and as for those who end up getting sick, the governor says if you are unable to self quarantine, the state will find a place for you.

Meanwhile, Long Island continues to prepare for possible cases to arise. There were two tests pending in Suffolk County and one in Nassau County on Wednesday.

Worldwide, there are over 90,000 cases of the virus and about 3,100 people have died from COVID-19.

In the U.S., 9 people in Washington state have died from COVID-19. Dozens of others across the country are infected.

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