The largest cluster of COVID-19 cases in New York, more commonly known as coronavirus, remains in Westchester, where there were just under 100 cases as of Monday afternoon, centered around a man in New Rochelle. But Governor Cuomo shocked reporters when he revealed that a high-ranking official, the executive director of the Port Authority, has tested positive for the virus.
“Rick Cotton has tested positive for the coronavirus, so he is going to be on quarantine,” Cuomo said at a press conference on Monday. “He’ll be working at home. He’s the executive director of the Port Authority, so he’s been at the airports, obviously.”
The Port Authority oversees the downstate region’s three largest airports, Laguardia, Newark Liberty and JFK.
It’s unclear if Cotton himself, at 76 years old, was in contact with passengers returning from infected countries where the outbreak is worse.
The virus hits seniors harder than younger people, and state officials are also limiting contact with senior centers.
“We have recommended to the nursing home leadership that you shouldn’t have many people coming into nursing homes,” said New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker. “I realize people would like to visit relatives. But we also have to make sure they are not sick when they are working in there.”
Price gouging and shortages have made cleaning products and sanitizers scarce, so Cuomo announced that New York will start producing its own hand sanitizer.
The sanitizer is being made by inmates at a state correctional facility and has an alcohol volume of 75%, which is higher than most.
“Our current capacity is 100,000 gallons per week,” Cuomo said. “And we are going to be ramping up. We will be providing this to governmental agencies, schools, the MTA, prisons, etc.”
Schools will now be required to close for an initial 24 hours if a student tests positive for coronavirus. Scarsdale has already shut down its schools and officials are considering the same in New Rochelle.
Many colleges and private secondary schools have already made decisions to pre-emptively close.
Health officials say so far 6% of coronavirus cases have required hospitalization, which is lower than the 20% that had been anticipated.