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Cuomo: Stats show 'we can control the beast'

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's daily briefings throughout the Covid-19 pandemic have mostly featured statistics of soaring deaths and overwhelmed hospitals.

But on Friday at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, Cuomo exuded a hint of optimism about controlling the deadly virus that still managed to claim 216 New Yorkers on Thursday.

"For so long we were playing catch-up ... now I feel for the first time we are actually ahead of it," Cuomo said. "We have shown we can control the beast.

"We haven't killed the beast, but we are ahead of it," he added. "We are in control of our own destiny."

Once again, the governor turned to the latest statistics on state efforts to battle Covid-19. He noted that statewide patient hospitalizations decreased by 469 from Thursday to 8,196; intensive care patients dropped by 165 to 2,811; patients on ventilators decreased by 130 to 2,295, and discharges increased 831 to 56,378.

He also lamented continuing deaths that maintain a daily pace in the 200s. He added that it remains unclear whether that rate and the rate of hospitalization represent a drop or "flattening" of a curve on graphs charting state deaths.

"We would have hoped that we would have come down very quickly, hit the top, and then come down. That's not what was happening; it's more flattening out," he said. "Question: When we look at these charts now, will it flatten out or will it continue to drop?

"That's what we're watching now going forward," he said.

Cuomo acknowledged that some parts of the nation and even some parts of New York continue clamoring for a relaxation of restrictions that have frozen commerce and industry for weeks. But he also said the positive results noted in recent days stem from the response of New Yorkers who have stayed home.

"We are reducing the rate of infection by our actions," he said. "You tell me how we behave today, and I will tell you the rate of infection three days from now.

"It is that clear – cause and effect," he added. "We are in control of the spread of the virus. That is the good news to me."

But it all results, he reiterated, from "wearing the masks, the closedowns, the precautions."

"If we lose people, that's one thing we can't fix," he said.

Cuomo also pointed to the upstate and downstate statistics that show many more cases in the New York City area that make it seem like two different states.

In addition, the governor reported that the virus in recent days claimed the life of a 5-year-old New Yorker, dashing the hopes of some that most children would be spared.

"This is every parent's nightmare, right?" he said. "That your child may actually be affected by this virus. But it's something we have to consider seriously now."

The State Department of Health later in the day announced it will investigate several cases of severe illness in children and child deaths that may be related to COVID-19.

The governor also announced that the state's new Child Victims Act, which allows those sexually abused as children to sue perpetrators beyond the normal statute of limitations period, will be extended past its August expiration date. Because courts have been severely limited by the virus, Cuomo now says potential suits can be filed until Jan. 14.

But Cuomo also dwelled on new reports indicating Covid-19 most likely arrived in New York City from Europeans possibly exposed to travelers from China and using John F. Kennedy International Airport, rather than the White House theory that it was exported by China. Without ever mentioning President Trump's name, the governor made it clear he believes at least equal attention should have been focused on travelers arriving on the East Coast as those on the West Coast.

"Nobody was saying, 'Beware of people coming from Europe.' We weren't testing people coming from Europe. They walked right through the airport," he said.

"I understand what happened in retrospect," he added. "But we have to make sure it doesn't happen again."

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