This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Sunday, March 8th, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here. Our guide to preparing for the spread of coronavirus is here, and if you have lingering questions about the virus, here is our regularly updated coronavirus FAQ. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.

With Cases Expected To Soar, New York City To Provide Aid To Small Businesses And Nurses For Schools

Cindy Rodriguez / WNYC

Anticipating a large jump in infections over the next several weeks, Mayor Bill de Blasio laid out a broad set of strategies to combat the ongoing spread of COVID-19, from hiring additional nurses for city schools and providing financial assistance to small businesses to urging people to avoid mass transit.

New York City currently has 13 confirmed cases of coronavirus, an increase of seven since Friday. One new case involves an individual in the Bronx, the details of which are yet unclear, according to de Blasio.

The mayor said he anticipated that the total number of cases in the city could reach 100 or several hundred within the next few weeks.

"We have to be prepared for that reality," he said.

Within the next week, 85 nurses would be dispatched to every single school building. After initially banning school trips to countries with significant outbreaks, the mayor said he would prohibit all international travel organized by public schools. There has been growing concern among parents about the spread of the virus at schools. From the start, city officials have been wary of saying they would close city schools, which double as child care for many working parents. The mayor and others have continued to stress that the disease presents "minimal risk" for healthy children. The Department of Education has also agreed to help private and charter schools. So far, 132 Catholic schools, 59 Jewish schools and one charter organization have requested cleaning supplies.

"I think parents want to see the schools going as long as it's safe," he said.

In recognition that the virus was hitting the bottom lines of some small business owners, especially those in Chinatown and Flushing, the mayor announced that businesses with less than 100 employees which can document a decrease in sales of up to 25 percent would be eligible for no-interest loans of as much $75,000. Those with under five employees could receive grants of up to $6,000 to help retain workers.

De Blasio said the city did not have any plans to ban or cancel public events. He added, however, that he was in discussions with organizers of the New York City Half Marathon, which is scheduled to take place next Sunday.

Similar to the governor, who spoke earlier in the day, the mayor urged staggering work shifts as well as commute times. He recommended people bike or walk in order to avoid taking crowded subways or buses. He also recommended that people work from home if possible.

As part of his briefing on confirmed cases, the mayor on Sunday revealed that the 32-year-old male health care worker had seen 11 patients (a prior report had said 10) while he had symptoms but that he had worn gloves and a mask. None of those individuals have exhibited any symptoms, the mayor said. The man has residences in both Manhattan and Fort Lee. He is currently hospitalized at Hackensack University Medical Center, where he is said to be in stable condition.

But in a new detail, the man was said to have seen those patients at King David Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, a nursing home in Brooklyn.

De Blasio also said that the man attended a conference at the Westin hotel in Manhattan. City health officials have reached out to those who attended the event and all were described as not showing any symptoms.

Since the coronavirus cases first surfaced in the city, the mayor has been providing the public with information obtained by the city's disease detectives who are trying to trace the individuals' contacts in an effort to contain the spread of the virus. On Sunday, the mayor acknowledged that as the caseload becomes larger, such detailed briefings could become impractical.

Among the latest cases, four are said to be travel-related. They include two Brooklyn women, ages 66 and 71, who took a cruise to Egypt, which has a cluster of cases. Another is a 39-year-old man who was hospitalized after returning from a trip to Italy on March 2. The man, who has pre-existing health conditions, is in serious condition. Another traveler, a 58-year old Manhattan man, is believed to have contracted the virus in Chile while having lunch with an infected individual.

In the case involving a 33-year-old Uber driver who was hospitalized at a Rockaway hospital, the mayor said that he works in Long Island. He is currently in stable condition at at St. John's Episcopal Hospital, where the mayor said 41 doctors, nurses and other workers were forced into self-quarantine over concerns that they had been exposed to the virus.

On Sunday, the hospital had a coronavirus update on its website. Among the policies outlined, the hospital is asking individuals experiencing symptoms to "refrain from visiting."

The incident raises questions about the city's message to New Yorkers on how best to seek care amid a viral epidemic. Over the last several weeks, de Blasio has repeatedly instructed the public feeling sick to "get to a hospital" or health care provider, even as some doctors have said they are not adequately prepared to handle infectious patients.

On the Upper West Side, a family is currently under quarantine after a 51-year-old man was found to be infected with the virus. The transmission has been traced back to the New Rochelle attorney who was tested positive last week and has since been connected to a cluster of cases in Westchester.

The man's 47-year-old wife and his 11-year-old daughter also tested positive. Two other daughers, ages 8 and 10, tested negative.

Of the individuals hospitalized, only one, a woman in her 80s remains in serious condition. Another person who had been hospitalized and described as critically ill, a man in his 40s who had a vaping habit, has since been discharged.

Clarisa Diaz / Gothamist & WNYC

Cuomo Recommends Not Getting On Crowded Mass Transit

In the state's most drastic policy measure to date towards containing the spread of COVID-19, Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday advised New Yorkers to avoid crowded spaces, including workspaces and mass transit.

"If you see a packed train car, let it go by and wait for the next train," Cuomo said during a press briefing, adding that the same applied to buses.

As of Sunday, there were 105 cases across the state, an increase of 16 overnight. In New York City, the number of cases increased by one overnight to 12, by the state's tally. Unlike the city, the state is not including the New Rochelle attorney, who is hospitalized at New York Presbyterian, in that total.

The latest shift comes as the state seeks to avoid mass shutdowns employed by government officials in China and Italy, a move that would have dire impact on the economy. In New York, the pattern of cases has illustrated how quickly the virus can be transmitted through large social gatherings, causing a chain reaction of infections. Of the total confirmed cases, 82 are in Westchester, where most—if not all—are connected to a New Rochelle attorney who worked in Manhattan and attended a number of events in New Rochelle before falling ill.

"An infected person in a large gathering can infect many people quickly," Cuomo said.

The governor said he was reaching out to businesses and urging them to adopt liberal paid sick policies and staggered work shifts, and allowing nonessential employees to work from home.

On Saturday, Cuomo declared a state of emergency in an effort to expedite the purchase of supplies and hiring related to combating the spread of coronavirus.

UPDATE 10 p.m: On Sunday, the New Rochelle man's wife, Adina Garbuz, posted a public message on Facebook thanking people for the outpouring of support. She emphasized that her family had provided health authorities with all the information they knew and worked to alert those who may have been exposed. "I ask all of us who are running on the hamster wheel of life, particularly us New Yorkers, to learn from this and take a moment to take care of yourself," she wrote. "We should use this an opportunity to re-calibrate and de-stress. Nothing can be more important than our health."

She said her husband, Lawrence Garbuz, remains in critical condition but that their family is hopeful for a full recovery.

Cuomo Demands Federal Government Allow Automated Testing For COVID-19

The state has from the beginning sought to implement aggressive testing measures as a way of finding infected individuals and isolating them. But a flaw in testing kits sent by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resulted in an inability to do local testing, resulting in a loss of valuable time, according to many health experts. Testing by the state and city finally began last week but amid signs of community spread, Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have complained that testing capacity is still woefully insufficient and called on the federal government to authorize more private labs to perform testing.

On Sunday, Cuomo held his press conference at Northwell Health Center for Advanced Medicine, an 150,000-square-foot laboratory facility on Long Island that can run automated COVID-19 testing.

As opposed to manual testing, Cuomo said that automated testing could run roughly 120 samples at a time. He said the process would "exponentially increase" the number of tests that could be performed.

But to date, the federal government has not authorized automating testing. The governor called the delay "outrageous and ludicrous."

Cuomo has said that the state is currently performing hundreds of tests a day but needs to ramp up that number up to thousands. Because of the limited testing capacity, there is a statewide protocol on which individuals receive testing priority. The top criteria for testing are for those who have been in "proximate contact" with another person known to be infected and individuals who exhibit symptoms after having traveled to a country that has had severe outbreaks, including China, South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan.

"Let’s increase as fast as possible our testing capacity so we can find the positives," he said.

UPDATE: On Sunday evening, the governor announced that Northwell Health Center had received approval to test under the state Wadsworth's lab emergency use authorization. It will allow manual testing of 75 to 80 samples per day. However, the FDA has still not approved automated testings.

Some Westchester and Rockland Schools Shut Down Due To Coronavirus

Following a cluster of COVID-19 cases, more schools in Westchester and Rockland are closing their doors next week.

Somers Central School District was closed Monday. According to The Journal News, the Superintendent announced to families that a Primrose Elementary School student tested positive for the coronavirus. Maintenance staff is expected to deep-clean all four school buildings.

A parent who tested positive forced the weekend closure of Chatsworth Avenue School and Mamaroneck High School so that cleaning could take place. Those schools are expected to be open Monday. And Tte private Westchester Day School in Mamaroneck said it would closed until March 17, after a student tested positive for coronavirus.

In East Ramapo Central School District, Hempstead Elementary School, Pomona Middle School, Chestnut Ridge Middle School, Spring Valley High School and Ramapo High School also canceled their activities this weekend due to five students being quarantined for exposure to the virus.

The private Westchester Day School in Mamaroneck will be closed until March 17, due to a student tested positive for coronavirus, according to a message on the village of Mamaroneck website.

Last Wednesday, two Westchester school districts—Hastings-on-Hudson Union Free School District and Mount Vernon City School District—closed as a precaution because of parents and students who were under quarantine as a result of being in a location where there had been a confirmed case. They are expected to reopen on Monday.

The two districts neighbor that of New Rochelle, where an attorney was tested positive last week and is connected to most if not all of the cases in Westchester and Rockland.

In Purchase, Keio Academy of New York, a private school affiliated with a university in Japan and a large body of foreign students, closing for the remainder of the school year due to concerns over coronavirus.

UPDATE 10:00 p.m. Scarsdale public school district in Westchester County has announced on its website that it would close from Monday through March 18 as a precaution after a faculty member at the district’s middle school tested positive for COVID-19. The district serves approximately 4,800 students.