Governor declares state of emergency in NY to better respond to coronavirus

Staff Reports Posted 7 March 2020 at 4:32 pm

Cuomo warns businesses against price gouging for cleaning products

Photo by Darren McGee, Office of the Governor: Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor, speak during a briefing today. They confirmed additional cases of novel coronavirus including two cases upstate in Saratoga County, bringing the statewide total to 76 confirmed cases (which was later increased to 89).

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency due to the rising number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state. Today, the governor announced there are 32 more confirmed cases, bringing the total statewide to 76.

UPDATED at 7:25 p.m.: Cuomo confirmed 13 additional cases of novel coronavirus in New York State, bringing the statewide total to 89 confirmed cases. The 13 new cases identified since the Governor’s last update are located in Westchester County.

“I have officially [declared a state of] emergency which gives us certain powers,” Cuomo said. “We’re going to be doing purchasing and hiring more staff, especially to help local health departments that are very stressed. We’ve said to the local health departments you have to do the monitoring on the quarantine, the mandatory quarantine. So this is labor intensive. We need the staffing, we need the purchasing. Under the declaration of emergency, we have a more expedited purchasing protocol.”

Additionally, the Governor directed the New York State Department of State’s Consumer Protection Division to launch an investigation into reports of unfair price increases of consumer products such as household cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, and launched a toll-free hotline – 1-800-697-1220 – for New Yorkers to report suspected price gouging.

“I want businesses to be aware that you could lose your license for price gouging,” Cuomo said. “This is serious. It is not just price gouging. It is price gouging in an emergency situation where you are being exploitive of the public. And there are specific legal provisions for price gouging in an emergency situation. If you are a store, you can lose your license and we are very serious about this. For the few dollars that you are going to make during this situation it is not worth your while.”

This state of emergency declaration allows, among other things:

• Expedited procurement of cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer and other essential resources

• Allowing qualified professionals other than doctors and nurses to conduct testing

• Expedited procurement of testing supplies and equipment

• Expedited personnel onboarding

• Expedited leasing of lab space

• Allowing EMS personnel to transport patients to quarantine locations other than just hospitals

• Providing clear basis for price gouging and enforcement investigation

The 32 new cases identified today are located in New York City and Westchester and Saratoga counties. Of the 89 total individuals in New York State who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:

Westchester: 70

New York City: 11

Nassau: 4

Rockland: 2

Saratoga: 2

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