Cuomo Closing All NYC Playgrounds As COVID-19 Cases Top 83K Statewide

WCBS 880 Newsroom
April 01, 2020 - 4:59 pm

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — To ensure all residents are abiding by social distancing rules, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday said all New York City playgrounds will be closed until further notice.

The news came as the state confirmed 83,712 total COVID-19 cases with 1,941 deaths.

With nearly 200,000 cases across the nation and over 12,000 people currently hospitalized in New York, Cuomo says people need to take the situation much more seriously.

“Young people must get this message and they still have not gotten the message,” the governor said. “You still see too many situations with too much density by young people, they can get it, they’re putting their lives at risks, this can kill young people – rare circumstances – but it can.”

He adds: “The compliance is still not where it should be.”

Cuomo said there are still reports of young people gathering in playgrounds to participate in contact sports or other games, and that is leading to a greater spread.

He stresses that even though younger people are not being greatly impacted by the virus, they can still spread it to someone in the older population.

While playgrounds will be closed, he says the city will be leaving public spaces in the park open.

“Use the open space in the park, walk around get some sun, no density, no basketball games, no close contact, no violation of social distancing. Period,” Cuomo said.

The governor stresses that people need to take coronavirus seriously as the state continues to “prepare for war.”

“The next battle is on the top of the mountain. That’s where the enemy either overwhelms our healthcare system or we are able to handle the onslaught of the enemy,” Cuomo said. “And that’s what we’re planning for every day.”

Cuomo expects the coronavirus apex to strike at the end of April with high compliance of social distancing. If people continue to take the virus seriously, he estimates the state will need a lower amount of hospital beds and ventilators as well.

The computer models paint a bleak picture, best case scenario we need 75,000 beds for virus patients and 25,000 ventilators. Worst case, we need 110,000 beds and 37,000 ventilators.

"Because in truth, the higher models, we don't eve have a chance at meeting that capacity anyway," Cuomo said

The projected death toll for the state is 16,000. 

The governor believes this entire experience will change the state and country indefinitely.

“When do we get back to normal? I don’t think we get back to normal,” he said.

He said coronavirus will be “transformative” for the world.

“This is gonna be transformative, it is gonna be transformative on a personal basis, on a social basis, on a system basis, we’re never going to be the same again,” the governor said.

He opened up about his own experience with coronavirus, noting once again that his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, tested positive for the virus on Tuesday.

“When he told me he had the coronavirus, it scared me. It’s frightened me,” Cuomo said. “We’re talking abut my little brother. We’re talking about my best friend.”

“It’s frightening because there’s nothing I can do and it’s out of my control … and this situation is the same for everyone,” Cuomo said.

He stressed no one is immune to the disease and it can happen to anyone.

The governor also applauded his brother’s resiliency, saying he was impressed that Chris Cuomo was still able to host his show from his basement on the same day he received a positive diagnosis.

Cuomo said no one knows for sure when this crisis will end, but that people can rely on facts to get them through this difficult time.

“Facts are facts and the facts that we offer the people of this state and the people for this country, they’re not pessimistic facts or optimistic facts, they’re not interpreted facts – they are just the best information we have as of this time,” he said.

He hopes to get the economy up and running again soon with rapid testing that can be done at home, but notes that he will not put dollars before human life. The governor said he hopes people can begin to go back to daily life, but that will be a while still.

Meanwhile, the state and city can only continue to prepare for the coming apex.

On Wednesday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio said FEMA is bringing in 250 more ambulances and approximately 500 more EMTs and paramedics to New York City, which has seen a 50% increase in emergency calls during the crisis.

Emergency field hospitals have been set up across the city in addition to the arrival of the 1,000-bed Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort.

The federal government has also provided 2,500 ventilators, but de Blasio said the city needs 15,000 total.

"We are racing against time right now," said de Blasio, calling on oral surgeons, plastic surgeons, and veterinarians to contribute ventilators to the effort. "We need it now, it should not be sitting there doing nothing, this is a war effort, everyone needs to contribute, you'll get it back when this battle is over." 

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