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Here's the latest:
- De Blasio Says He Needs Federal Aid By October 1st To Avoid Layoffs
- U.S. Sets Record For Single-Day Virus Count
- NYC On Track To Begin Phase 3 Of Reopening On July 6th
1:00 p.m. Governor Andrew Cuomo said Friday that New York was reaching out to officials in Arizona, Texas and Florida, three states that have seen an alarming rise in virus cases, to offer help with equipment or personnel to deal with the crisis.
During a call-in press briefing, the governor said the gesture was intended to return a favor from states such as California, Washington and Oregon, whose officials sent New York ventilators in April when the state was grappling with surging hospitalizations and a lack of sufficient equipment.
"Our offer's open-ended," Cuomo said. "However we can help. We are in a position to provide any of the above: equipment, staff, knowledge, ventilators, National Guard assistance, whatever they need. Technical assistance. Yes, we have all of the above."
Cuomo's magnanimity comes as New York experiences the lowest number of hospitalizations to date—951 as of Friday. The state's positivity rate for those tested for the virus was 1.3 percent.
The news has allowed Cuomo to tout the state's turnaround from having the highest rate of infection to one of the lowest, even as regions gradually reopen. He called the outbreaks in the rest of the country "frightening and revealing at the same time."
Just one day after saying he would not "go backwards and close down businesses," Governor Greg Abbott of Texas ordered all bars to close on Friday and instructed restaurants to reduce operating capacity to 50 percent.
Abbott issued a shutdown order in late March that lasted 28 days, one of the shortest stay-at-home orders in the country.
"There is now irrefutable evidence," Cuomo said. "Rushed reopenings were a mistake."
De Blasio Says He Needs Federal Aid By October 1st To Avoid Layoffs
11:00 a.m. Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday said that New York City will be forced to lay off as many as 22,000 city employees unless the federal government passes another stimulus by October 1st to provide funding for local governments.
The city is staring at a $1 billion budget hole due to the COVID-19 shutdown. New York City has lost about $9 billion in tax revenue since the crisis began. De Blasio first announced the possibility of layoffs or furloughs on Wednesday but he had not set a drop-dead date for when those cuts would begin. The number of proposed layoffs represents roughly 7 percent of the city's more than 326,000 municipal employees.
The scale of layoffs would rival those that occurred New York City's fiscal crisis in the 1970s.
"We're working with labor, we're looking for alternatives, but if we can't find the resources, those layoffs have to be in on October 1st," de Blasio said during his morning press briefing.
He added, however, that the city would not increase property tax rates.
Both the mayor and Governor Andrew Cuomo have urged Congress and President Donald Trump to pass another stimulus package that directs aid to states and local governments, saying that the country's economic revival depends on cities and states being able to continue employing workers and providing essential services. But up until now, Republicans have little appetite to help states hurt by the pandemic.
In the event the federal government does not come through, the de Blasio administration has been currently working with state legislators on a plan to give the city authority to borrow billions to help cover its operating expenses. The mayor said he had revised his request from $7 billion down to $5 billion over two years; the city would issue bonds for $3 billion in the first year and $2 billion the second year.
The New York State Financial Control Board would oversee the borrowing, de Blasio said. He added that City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who had initially opposed the plan, has now pledged his support.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has been resistant to the idea of borrowing to pay for operating costs, which most economists say is shortsighted and risky. On Wednesday, the governor maintained in an interview with WAMC's Alan Chartock that he believes that Congress will eventually pass a bill to aid states, but that the bigger question would be what portion of that funding New York would get.
De Blasio said the city could not count on federal help.
"Maybe that will come, but we need the fallback of borrowing," he said.
U.S. Sets Record For Single-Day Virus Count
The number of new virus cases soared to a record high on Thursday, adding to the concern over outbreaks in the South and West that have forced three states, Florida, Texas and Arizona, to halt their reopenings.
Both Worldometer and the New York Times counted more than 40,000 cases, while Johns Hopkins University's tally was just shy of 40,000. But in all three cases, the total was the highest caseload ever in a single day.
On Friday, the White House coronavirus task force led by Vice President Mike Pence announced a press briefing for the first time in nearly two months. Last Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Pence which called the panic over a second wave "overblown" and sought to dismiss reports on growing infections.
"The media has tried to scare the American people every step of the way, and these grim predictions of a second wave are no different," he wrote. "The truth is, whatever the media says, our whole-of-America approach has been a success."
President Donald Trump last week said that the virus is "fading away," a claim that has been disputed by leading public health experts.
In reality, more than a dozen states are experiencing surges in virus cases.
Texas, which had one of the shortest stay-at-home orders, reported a record 5,996 new cases as well as an all-time high in the number of hospitalizations. Texas Medical Center in Houston, touted as the largest medical complex in the worlds, reported that its ICU beds were full and that hospitalizations were growing at an "alarming rate."
Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a statement, saying the state would pause its reopening. “The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses. This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business,” Abbott said in the release.
In Florida, which has had more than 5,000 new cases for two days in a row, Governor Ron DeSantis deflected criticism over the state's handling of the crisis.
“We are where we are. I didn’t say we’re going onto the next phase. We’ve done a step-by-step approach and it’s an approach that’s been reflective of the unique situation of each area,” DeSantis said. “We never anticipated doing anything different in terms of the next phase, at this point, anyways. So we are where we are.”
Officials have attributed the growth in cases to younger people whose infections may have gone undiagnosed in the past when testing was more limited.
The true extent of the virus's spread is still unknown. On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that their research suggested that the actual number of infections in the U.S. is about 10 times the 2.4 million that have been recorded.