ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – New York’s governor says he will ask state lawmakers in coming days to approve $40 million to help state health officials respond to the deadly coronavirus outbreak.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, told reporters Wednesday that the funding will help hire additional staff and purchase supplies including protective masks and gloves. He said the state has no confirmed cases of the virus, but officials are waiting for test results regarding one sick person in Nassau County.
“Yes, we’re preparing, but this situation is not a situation that should cause undue fear among people,” Cuomo said.
A viral outbreak that began in China has infected more than 81,000 people globally and caused 2,700 deaths. U.S. cases currently total 57, and the White House has requested $2.5 billion for vaccine development, treatment and protective equipment.
Older people, especially those with chronic illnesses such as heart or lung diseases, are more at risk.
Cuomo said he’ll propose legislation to help the state’s health commissioner make sure that hospitals and health departments are prepared for a possible U.S. outbreak. He also plans to soon convene state and local health officials to develop uniform protocols for handling quarantines and other methods of stopping the virus from spreading.
Officials throughout the state have asked federal health authorities for permission to do their own testing for the virus. Tests are now only performed at federal labs and getting results can take several days.
The governor’s office says the state’s public health laboratory could begin testing immediately to help New York and other Northeast states.