ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a conference call with media Wednesday to give an update on New York state’s coronavirus response efforts.
Wednesday marked the 179th day since the coronavirus arrived in New York and the governor says the data continues to trend in the right direction statewide.
Across New York, 71,189 COVID-19 tests were conducted Tuesday with 566 coming back positive — an infection rate of 0.79 percent. It was the 19th straight day of an infection rate less than 1%. The governor said three New Yorkers died Tuesday and 492 New Yorkers remain hospitalized with the virus.
“Situation was good all across the state, but we still have a caution flag in Western New York, which was at 1.4 percent,” Gov. Cuomo said. “It’s better today than where it was, but not where it should be.”
The governor questioned the CDC’s new guidelines which say that if someone is in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, they don’t need to get tested.
“The CDC reversed their guidance, saying that ‘if you’re in close contact with someone who has COVID you don’t need a test,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I’ve spoken with medical experts, this makes no sense. It’s the president’s policy of denying the problem.”
The CDC changed the recommendations on its website Monday in a surprise move.
The site now says: “If you have been in close contact (within 6 feet) of a person with a COVID-19 infection for at least 15 minutes but do not have symptoms, you do not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable individual or your health care provider or State or local public health officials recommend you take one.”
“Shame on the people of the CDC,” Gov. Cuomo said. “This will not look well in the scope of the history. What plausible rationale would say, ‘if you’re in close contact with a person who has COVID, you don’t need a test.'”
“This is indefensible from a public health standpoint,” said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “It makes no sense. I’ve talked to CDC scientists and they say this is all political.”
Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University, agrees with Dr. Zucker, telling CNN that the changes make no sense.
“These are exactly the people who should be tested … I’m concerned that these recommendations suggest someone who has had substantial exposure to a person with Covid-19 now doesn’t need to get tested,” Dr. Wen said.
The governor was also critical of President Donald Trump’s nomination of Chad Wolf, acting Homeland Security Secretary, to take over the role on a more permanent basis. Gov. Cuomo blamed Wolf for his role with the Trusted Traveler Program dispute with the federal government, spurred by the Green Light Law in New York state.
The governor’ called Wolf a political operative and said he isn’t qualified for the position. He previously called on the Department of Justice to investigate Homeland Security over the incident.