Gov. Cuomo: Hotspot infection rate surpasses 5%, rest of state at 1.05%

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MARCH 20: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during his daily news conference amid the coronavirus outbreak on March 20, 2020 in New York City. Cuomo ordered nonessential businesses to keep 100% of their workforce at home in an effort to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)

ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a conference call with media Wednesday to give an update on the state’s coronavirus response efforts.

On day 221 of the pandemic in New York state, the governor reported:

  • 108,246 tests conducted
  • 1,360 new cases
  • 1.25% overall state infection rate
  • 5.1% infection rate in hotspot zip codes
  • 1.05% infection rate outside of the hotspot zip code
  • 8 new COVID-19 deaths
  • 748 hospitalizations (up 43 from the day prior, driven by hotspots, according to the governor)
  • 175 in ICU
  • 72 intubated

The three-day regional infection rates, according to the governor’s office, are as follows:

Capital Region0.7%1.0%0.9%
Central New York0.8%1.8%0.9%
Rochester & Finger Lakes1.0%0.8%0.5%
Long Island0.9%1.1%1.2%
Mohawk Valley0.5%0.6%0.4%
New York City1.5%1.4%1.5%
North Country0.8%0.3%0.1%
Southern Tier0.7%1.8%1.4%
Western New York1.2%1.6%0.9%

The governor said the state continues to focus on the hotspot zip codes, including new restrictions announced Tuesday, which included color-coded regulations regarding education, religious worship, social gatherings and business activity rules in areas of higher infection rate.

The hotspots zip codes are primarily downstate, mostly in Rockland, Orange, and Nassau Counties, as well as Brooklyn and Queens in New York City. Broome County in Southern Tier also has a hotspot zip code in the Binghamton area, but it isn’t in the state’s top 20 most infectious zip codes as of Wednesday.

“The focus is on the hotpsots,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Why ? No. 1, we want to save lives. We know because we have lived it, and every expert will tell you, and our experience shows it — if you do not control the infection rate it will spread. Some people are unhappy, I understand it. These limitations are better than going back to close down, which is what happens when infections increase. There are no options here because the facts are that blunt; if you don’t slow the rate of infection, it will increase, and you need to take action to slow the rate.”

The governor was critical of President Donald Trump after he instructed Congressional Republicans to top negotiating on any federal coronavirus relief packages until after the General Election.

“I don’t understand what the president is doing now on state and local aid,” Gov. Cuomo said. “‘I won’t talk about it.’ What do you mean you won’t talk about it? You’re talking about the national economy, you’re talking about billions of dollars, you’re talking about providing assistance to states and localities that were hurt by COVID. That disrespects the office, and the oath, and will do tremendous economic damage.”

The governor has indicated economic turmoil for the state without funding, including budget cuts up to 20%, but he says he’s waiting to see the facts from the federal level before making any determinations.

“The only way to get close to closing that deficit, within the state’s abilities, you would have to do a tax increase,” Gov. Cuomo said. “You would have to cut expenses, and you would have to borrow. This would do tremendous economic damage to the state. My position is the state is not liable for this deficit. It was caused by the negligence of the federal government. I’m not going to do any damage to the state’s economy unless you tell me that’s the last resort.”

MORE | Gov. Cuomo to Washington: ‘Stop abusing states that carried brunt of virus’

The governor again reiterated a common sentiment of his in that local governments need to do a better job of enforcing compliance to help stop the spread of the virus.

“The enforcement has to be done,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The reason we’re in this situation now is because the enforcement wasn’t done. Let’s just be clear, it’s not that we didn’t have the right rules. We had the rules, it just wasn’t enforced, and now we see the infection rate go up. So who was helped by not enforcing the rules? Did we help these communities? This is the consequence of non enforcement, increased infection.”

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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