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Cuomo heads to White House as he lobbies for COVID-19 help

Cuomo heads to White House as he lobbies for COVID-19 help
LifeInternational3 min read
New York, Apr 21 (AP) New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo headed to Washington on Tuesday as he lobbies for federal testing help while Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York City will stockpile its own medical supplies. Elective surgeries will be allowed in parts of the state where the outbreak is not so severe.

Hospitals in parts of New York will be able to conduct outpatient elective surgeries again, Cuomo said Tuesday as he pledged to consider regional differences when re-opening the state's outbreak-stalled economy.

The governor said elective treatments will be allowed in places where the outbreak is less severe.

"We're going to allow it in those hospitals and counties in the state that do not have a COVID issue or we wouldn't need their beds in case of a surge," Cuomo said at a briefing in Buffalo.

The hospital restrictions will remain in effect in New York City and suburban Westchester and Rockland counties, as well as in Albany, Dutchess and Erie counties, he said.

The guidelines come as the state plans how to gradually ease up on outbreak restrictions. The total number of statewide hospitalizations has been slowly dropping along with the daily death toll. The state recorded 481 deaths Monday, the second straight day with under 500 fatalities.

But Cuomo said the outbreak is moving through regions of the state at different rates. Rural stretches of northern New York are facing "a totally different situation" than New York City, a global COVID-19 hotspot, he said.

"We operate as one state, but we also have to understand variations and you do want to get this economy opened as soon as possible," he said.

"And if the situation is radically different in one part of state than another part of the state, then take that into consideration." Cuomo appeared in Buffalo a day after protesters drove about 150 cars in the city's downtown to call for an end to stay-at-home restrictions. Protesters beeped their horns and waved flags from their car windows.

Cuomo will head to the White House on Tuesday as he seeks federal help with coronavirus testing.

The Democratic governor and Republican president have alternately praised and criticized each other over their respective responses to the outbreak. The pair traded barbs as recently as Friday, when President Donald Trump said Cuomo should get to work after the governor argued that the federal government needed to lead in ramping up mass testing.

Cuomo said the White House meeting Tuesday afternoon will be about testing.

"How do we do it, and how can the federal government work in partnership with the states," Cuomo said.

Cuomo contends the federal government must help get crucial supplies needed for testing.

New York City is planning to stockpile medical equipment and supplies to meet its own needs in any potential future coronavirus surge, rather than looking to federal authorities or global markets, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.

He said the new "strategic reserve" would include ventilators, face shields, surgical gowns and test kits, and the initiative also includes developing local suppliers who could quickly make more if needed.

In one example, the city is spending $10 million to buy 3,000 "bridge" ventilators -- suitable for patients who don't have the severest respiratory symptoms -- from Queens-based Boyce Technologies Inc. It has started making the devices only in recent weeks.

"We have learned the hard way that we cannot depend on the federal government in the future," nor in the global marketplace, de Blasio, a Democrat, said at a news briefing. "We New Yorkers will take care of ourselves."

In a similar vein, De Blasio last week announced a plan to create a $50 million reserve of as many as 18 million non-perishable meals.

The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

De Blasio said Tuesday that if governors of states such as Georgia start to ease coronavirus restrictions, they had better have the facts on their side or they could enable a resurgence of the virus beyond their states' borders.

"If some of these reopenings are done the wrong way, it's going to affect all of us," de Blasio said on CNN's "New Day." He said that if any state or city "jumps the gun" on reopening businesses "that could lead to the disease reasserting in a lot of other places."

The Democratic mayor announced Monday that all public events will be canceled in New York City through June.

The New York City ban, which affects major annual celebrations such as the gay pride parade, was announced the same day that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said he would allow some businesses including gyms, hair salons and bowling alleys to reopen later this week. The Republican governor called the loosening of restrictions intended to curb the spread of the virus "the right approach at the right time." (AP) RS RSRS