New York Gov. Cuomo vows not to impose martial law

By Dave Lemery | The Center Square

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo described his expectations for the impact of the coronavirus on his state in stark terms Thursday, saying “the health care system is going to be overwhelmed” during a TV interview.

The governor did a series of appearances on network and cable news programs as he continued to spread the message that social distancing and self-isolation are keys to combating the COVID-19 pandemic. But he also warned that as things stand, the hospitals and medical centers face daunting challenges.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

“We know that by all projections we’re going to have more people than we can deal with in the health care system, so we’re trying to increase capacity in hospitals,” Cuomo said during an interview on NBC. “We are trying to build more hospital beds. … We have a major problem on equipment, the gloves, the protective equipment and, again, the ventilators. In this war, ventilators are what the missiles were in World War II. We have to make those missiles, we have to make those ventilators, get them made, and that’s what the president’s talking about.”

As of Thursday morning, New York had seen 3,083 diagnosed cases of coronavirus infection and 20 deaths related to the COVID-19 disease that results in some cases. Cuomo said that the spike in diagnoses on Wednesday, with more than 1,000 new cases being added to the state total, was attributable to an increase in testing.

“The testing is so accelerated,” he said. “We’re doing so many more tests that the positives have to go up. These tests were never indicative of how many people actually had the virus in society because we didn’t have the tests in time, frankly.”

In a later interview on CNN, Cuomo said he expected another sharp increase in cases Thursday.

“We did 8,000 tests overnight … which is probably a new record in the country,” he said. “We don’t have the results of the 8,000 tests, but when you do 8,000 tests, the numbers are going to go up exponentially.”

Despite his concerns, Cuomo continued to reject the idea that a shelter-in-place order was going to be needed like the one San Francisco instituted. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio this week hinted that such an order could be coming, a concept that Cuomo has consistently rejected.

“People [should] stay home,” Cuomo said. “Reduce density, close businesses. But you’re not imprisoned. You’re not quarantined, you’re not a prisoner. We’re not going to put a roadblock around New York City so you have to pack up and get out today. … I am not going to imprison anyone in the state of New York. I am not going to do martial law in the state of New York. That’s not going to happen.”

Images courtesy of Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York and Metropolitan Transportation Authority