By Arul Louis
New York, March 20 (IANS) With the number of coronavirus cases rising sharply to 3,615, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has called for deploying the military to help the city face the pandemic.
De Blasio said on Thursday the military must be given the orders to mobilise and take on the coronavirus crisis.
“We have such extraordinary military capability” to fight the pandemic and “the President is sitting idly by” instead of mobilising it, he said.
President Donald Trump has ordered a Navy hospital ship, USNS Comfort, with 1,000 rooms and operation theatres to New York to back up the city’s health facilities.
Because of the dire situation, de Blasio said, the city would be releasing some prisoners from its notorious Riker’s Island Correction Facility.
Some employees and prisoners have tested for coronavirus and he wanted to reduce the crowding there to reduce chances of infection spreading by letting out some low-risk prisoners.
The coronavirus cases in New York City increased by 1,606 between 5.30 p.m. Wednesday and 10.30 a.m. Thursday.
As New York became the state with the most number of COVID-19 cases, Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered reducing the percentage of employees who can work on site from 50 per cent to 25 per cent in order to reduce the density of people in workplaces in order to keep distances between the workers.
He said that it was required because of the dramatic rise in the number of coronavirus cases from 2,382 on Wednesday to 4,152 on Thursday.
He has attributed the spiraling cases to increased testing that has identified previously unknown cases.
The city and the state are placing a lot of importance on having people keep distance to reduce chances of infection.
Because two members of the New York State Assembly have come down with COVID-19, the legislature took special precautions by having the members coming in small batches to vote on legislation for sick leave, rather than having a vote in a full session.
In neighbouring New Jersey, the number of coronavirus infected people doubled to 742 between Wednesday and Thursday, Governor Phil Murphy said.
There were nine deaths in the state.
In one family from the state, the mother, a son and a daughter died in New Jersey and another son died in Pennsylvania, according to nj.online.
(Arul Louis can be contacted at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)