(Reuters) – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday he understood why some people were protesting against the lockdown response to the coronavirus outbreak but said restrictions must be lifted in a way that prevented further outbreaks.
He spoke after protesters gathered in several state capitals across the United States to demand an end to stay-at-home orders which experts say are key to slowing the virus’ spread but which have ground the economy to a halt.
“You don’t need protests to convince anyone in this country that we have to get back to work and we have to get the economy going and we have to get out of our homes. Nobody,” Cuomo told a daily briefing.
Cuomo, who has emerged as a leading national voice on the pandemic, called for federal hazard pay for hospital staff, police officers and other frontline workers and repeated a plea for federal funding to ramp up testing for the virus.
The governor also said that 20 hospitals in his state that have been using the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, would send results of their studies on the drug to federal regulators on Monday.
The governor said total hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients reached 16,103, down from 16,213 the day before, while an additional 478 people died over the past 24 hours, the lowest daily fatality rate since April 1.
Cuomo said the data added to evidence that New York, the epicenter of the crisis in the United States, had past the worst stage of the crisis and remained on a path toward a stabilization of its healthcare system.
“The numbers would suggest we are seeing a descent,” Cuomo said.
Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut, Jessica Resnick-Ault in New York and Barbara Goldberg in Maplewood, New Jersey; Editing by Howard Goller