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Cuomo continues to attack White House on COVID-19 leadership

Office of the Governor

Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to take issue with comments by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who said over the weekend that the federal government does not plan to get control of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meadows said on CNN Sunday that the federal government instead will focus on getting out a vaccine and prescribing therapeutic remedies for those who do get sick. 

Cuomo, for the second day in a row, fumed that Meadows, and his boss, President Donald Trump, are giving up, and that as a result, 160,000 more Americans could die of the disease by February. 

The governor said New York demonstrated in the spring that it is possible to control the virus, and he said the state is now actively targeting microclusters of virus outbreaks to keep it from spreading more widely. 

“It is COVID whack-a-mole,” Cuomo said. “One pops up -- bang.”

There are currently several microclusters, or hot zones, in the state, where stricter rules for schools and businesses are in effect. They include Brooklyn and Queens as well as Rockland and Orange counties and several areas in the Southern Tier.

Some of those hot zones include state prison facilities. In Elmira, more than 300 inmates have been diagnosed with the virus.

The governor’s chief of staff, Melissa DeRosa, said prison officials are taking steps to control the spread, including contact tracing and eliminating bunk beds to reduce density.  

“The majority of the cases that we are seeing are asymptomatic,” DeRosa said. “We believe that this is a byproduct of community spread, where it exists in the community. It’s very difficult to keep it out of congregate facilities.” 

Visitation to the prison has been suspended, as well as at another prison in Greene County in the Hudson Valley, where the number of cases is also increasing.

DeRosa said so far, 700 of 36,000 prisoners have tested positive for the coronavirus. There are plans to test every prisoner in every state facility by the end of November.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.
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