In his most candid comments to date about the state the New York’s finances, Governor Andrew Cuomo admonished Albany’s advocacy community on Saturday, saying, “To be advocating for more state funding is beyond the pale of a colorable claim. The state is broke.”
Cuomo also urged lawmakers to return to Albany to finish the budget due April 1.
“Certainly, an elected official can come to this cavernous complex and do their job,” he said, referring to the Capitol.
There is a relationship between a clause in the House bill that passed last week in Washington and the state’s budget. The clause, which Cuomo referred to Saturday, as “a technical issue,” makes $6 billion in federal aid available to the state, but only if New York doesn’t change its current Medicaid program.
On Friday, the Medicaid Redesign Team II voted on a package of proposals that would do just that. Cuomo says he is “in touch” with the state’s Congressional delegation to “fix” the issue.
The governor made some other news as well: In order to build new bed capacity, he will be looking at four spaces in downstate New York that may be outfitted as “field hospitals” by the Army Corps of Engineers. The spaces include the Javits Center, SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Westbury, and the Westchester Conventional Center.
Cuomo has also asked the federal government to waive the 25 percent state commitment to any FEMA Disaster Assistance aid the state receives.
The governor acknowledged that he has not been tested for COVID-19 because he doesn’t meet the criteria: He says he hasn’t been around anyone exposed to the virus and doesn’t have symptoms such as a cough or difficulty breathing.
“Nope. I don’t want to waste a test,” he said, responding to a reporter’s question.
When asked about Albany area hospitals rationing tests for COVID-19, he re-stated that there are not enough tests for everyone who wants one.
Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker is asking the FDA for 10K doses of a new drug therapy that includes Hydroxycholoroquinine and Zithromax. Dr. Zucker has recommended a clinical trial using these two drugs. The company Regeneron is exempted from the state’s quarantine, because the company is actively working on a vaccine.
The state has conducted 45,437 tests, more than any other state in the nation, and more per capita than China or South Korea. There are currently 10,356 positive cases in the state, with 1603 of those cases, or 15%, hospitalized.