De Blasio calls on US military to help New York amid coronavirus, addresses possible ‘shelter-in-place’

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that the American military should “get in this game” and help areas battling the coronavirus outbreak, while also clarifying that he is “almost to the point” of recommending a city-wide “shelter-in-place” order to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

De Blasio criticized the federal government for not deploying the military to help affected areas in a morning interview with NBC’s “Today.”

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“There are American military officers still building a wall at the southern border when all they should be doing domestically is addressing coronavirus,” he said. “The American military is being sidelined when they should be given the chance to get in this game and help us all.”

De Blasio called on the American military to help areas affected by the coronavirus. 

De Blasio called on the American military to help areas affected by the coronavirus.  (AP)

He said the military “has extraordinary medical capacity” and logistical expertise, which is “needed in places like New York” to ensure food and medicines can move without disruptions to the supply chain.

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At a press briefing later Wednesday, Cuomo said he spoke with President Trump and announced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will arrive in New York in the afternoon, while a U.S. Navy hospital ship with 1,000 hospital rooms, including an operating room, will arrive later.

De Blasio first alluded to a “shelter-in-place” order during a televised interview Tuesday, a measure that would only allow city residents to leave their homes for basic needs such as food, medicines and exercise.

At a press briefing following de Blasio's comments, Cuomo said that there are no plans for a "shelter-in-place" for either New York City or the state of New York.

At a press briefing following de Blasio's comments, Cuomo said that there are no plans for a "shelter-in-place" for either New York City or the state of New York. (AP)

Cuomo has categorically denied any such measures were being taken.

De Blasio clarified his comments Wednesday morning, saying the decision to “shelter-in-place” can only be made by the state of New York, and needed more time to address the logistical strains that such a measure would put on the city. He said he would speak to Cuomo later Wednesday.

“We have a little bit more we have to make sense of — how we are going to get people food and medicine,” de Blasio said. “But, I have to say, it has to be considered seriously starting today.”

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New York state reported a sharp spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, from 967 to 1,708, the highest number in the U.S., with 16 deaths as of Wednesday morning.