New York Governor Andrew Cuomo continues to take issue with comments by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who said over the weekend that the federal government does not plan to get control of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meadows said on CNN Sunday that the federal government does not plan to try to control the pandemic, but instead will focus on getting out a vaccine and prescribing therapeutic remedies for those who do get sick.
Cuomo, for the second day in a row, fumed that Meadows and his boss President Donald Trump, are giving up, and that as a result 160,000 more Americans could die of the disease by February.
The governor says New York demonstrated in the spring that it is possible to control the virus, and he says the state is now actively targeting micro clusters of virus outbreaks to keep it from spreading more widely.
“What is the micro cluster? You see a spread you run, you attack it. You keep putting out these flames. It is COVID whack-a-mole,” Cuomo said. “One pops up - bang. One pops up – bang.”
There are currently several hot zones in the state, where stricter rules for schools and businesses are in effect. They include Brooklyn, Queens, Rockland and Orange Counties and several areas in the Southern Tier.
Some of those hot zones include state prison facilities. In Elmira, more than 300 inmates have been diagnosed with the virus.
The governor’s Chief of Staff, Melissa DeRosa, says prison officials are taking a number of steps to control the spread, including contact tracing and eliminating bunk beds to reduce density.
“The majority of the cases we are seeing are asymptomatic,” DeRosa said. “We believe that this is a by-product of community spread, where it exists in the community. It’s very difficult to keep it out of congregate facilities.”
Visitation to the prison has been suspended, as well as at another prison in Greene County in the Hudson Valley, where the virus is also increasing.
DeRosa says so far, 700 of 36,000 prisoners have tested positive for COVID-19. She says there are plans to test every prisoner in every state facility by the end of November.