A 50-year-old Westchester man who works at a Manhattan law firm has become the second confirmed case of the new coronavirus in New York State, according to state health officials.
His son’s Jewish religious school, the SAR Academy in the Bronx, was closed Tuesday. Governor Cuomo says the latest victim was hospitalized and is in critical condition as Tuesday afternoon.
“Our information is that the gentleman had an underlying respiratory illness. And he is ill. And he is hospitalized,” Governor Cuomo said. “That is juxtaposed with the case we talked about yesterday, which was a 39-year old healthcare worker who is positive, but she is at home.”
On Monday night, the governor sent the legislature an emergency supplemental appropriation of $40 million to fight a coronavirus outbreak. While the legislature passed the bill and Cuomo signed it, the measure was not without controversy.
Members of the New York State Assembly balked because it gave the governor expansive new powers for a full year to institute mass quarantines and other drastic actions. Those powers are not limited to just an outbreak, but include a handful of new potential disasters such as a cyber-attack. It even mentioned an erupting volcano. Members took issue with the bill’s language during the floor vote.
“I’ve been involved in this topic for decades, through six governors. I’ve never seen any governor or health commissioner ask for this kind of expansion of power,” said Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, a Democrat representing Manhattan.
“Why is it that we are now faced with a piece of legislation that, in effect, allows the governor to declare martial law,” said State Senator Andrew Lanza, a Republican from Staten Island.
Cuomo got testy with a reporter when he was asked about why the appropriation wasn’t more limited in scope.
“Because that would be stupid to do what you suggested,” said Cuomo. “You recognize the law is deficient. You realize just the suspension of a law doesn’t give you authority to do anything affirmative.”
Albany is headed into its final few weeks before the state budget is due, and this is normally the time when critical debates take place over what to include. But some here believe coronavirus has the potential to overshadow everything between now and then, pushing all other issues to the side.