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North Country reopens, as we learn more about mystery illness affecting children

Office of the Governor
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (center) gave his daily briefing in Watertown Wednesday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the phased-in reopening of another region of the state Wednesday. He says New York’s North Country has met the state’s criteria.

The North Country joins the Rochester-Finger Lakes region, the Southern Tier and the Mohawk Valley to begin reopening manufacturing and construction firms that can do so safely, as early as this weekend. But Cuomo says people in those regions have to be cautious and heed warnings by White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci about the dangers of reinfection if the reopening is too rapid.

He says the data will have to be closely monitored.    

“It has to be monitored, and if you see those numbers starting to move, you will know if you’re reopening too soon and if you see that virus spreading,” Cuomo said.

Other parts of the state still face obstacles to reopening, including a hospitalization or death rate that is not yet declining and inadequate numbers of extra hospital beds.

Cuomo also announced that 12 more counties can begin elective surgical procedures, under some restrictions, including most of the Capital Region’s counties. Hospitals have been losing hundreds of millions of dollars and many have had to lay off staff.

Cuomo also addressed the worrisome incidences of children being hospitalized for a disorder similar to Kawasaki disease or toxic shock syndrome and believed to be related to the coronavirus.

He says the state Department of Health is investigating 102 cases and three children have died. He says the children have all tested positive for the virus or have the presence of antibodies indicating that they had the virus, possibly weeks before the on set of the symptoms. 71% of the cases resulted in the children going to the ICU and 43% are still in the hospital.

Fourteen other states and five European countries have also reported similar cases.  

Cuomo says one of the children who died was an 18-year-old girl. He says he worries about his own 22-year-old daughter.

“This is a parent’s worst nightmare,” Cuomo said.  

State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker will host a webinar Thursday for all healthcare providers in the state, to help them learn about how to recognize the symptoms and what testing and treatments are recommended.

Cuomo says parents of children who may have been exposed to COVID-19 need to take extra precautions and hospitals have been told to immediately test any child with any of the symptoms for the virus.

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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