Cuomo extends state lockdown, says normalcy may return with widespread testing

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday that he is extending a statewide lockdown that he first ordered earlier this month, forcing nonessential workers to remain at home due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The governor indicated that this could continue for the foreseeable future, at least until people are able to get tested on a larger scale.

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"We put in place the New York PAUSE program; today I am going to extend it to April 15, the directive that nonessential state workforce continue to work from home," Cuomo said at a Sunday press briefing. "We’re doing it in two-week intervals because every day is a new day and we’ll see what happens day to day. But I think it’s not even questionable today that we’re going to need two more weeks of nonessential workers."

Cuomo announced the development of a “less intrusive saliva and short nasal swab test” for coronavirus that could be given by health care workers that may be available as early as next week, heralding this as a step in the right direction.

“People ask when is this over, I think the testing, you tell me when they come up with an inexpensive home test or point of care test that can be brought to volume, I think that’s probably when you see a real return to normalcy in the workforce," he said. “If you could test today millions of people, you could send them to work tomorrow.”

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Cuomo then delivered a message of solidarity to fellow New Yorkers, after President Trump’s suggestion of a possible federal quarantine for the New York area, as well as a Rhode Island order not to allow New Yorkers into their state.

"I know we feel under attack," Cuomo said. "No one is going to attack New York unfairly, and no one is going to deprive New York of what it needs."

Trump ended up not ordering a quarantine, and Rhode Island repealed its order.

Cuomo also addressed the struggles families will face in the coming weeks with the Easter and Passover holidays, which are typically celebrated with religious services and family gatherings.

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"Worship the way you can, but the gatherings are just not a good idea,” he said, noting that the cluster of cases in New Rochelle, N.Y., came about due to religious gatherings.

On the same subject, Cuomo did announce the good news that the “patient zero” in New Rochelle has left the hospital after extensive treatment.