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Cuomo asking for $40M to help combat coronavirus

Governor Cuomo's office
Gov. Andrew Cuomo holds a briefing on the state's preparations for the coronavirus at the State Capitol on Wednesday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he's asking the state Legislature for $40 million in emergency spending to help the state combat the coronavirus.  

The governor said there have been no confirmed cases of the virus in New York so far. Twenty-seven people have been tested, and 26 of those results have been negative. One case is still pending. 

Cuomo said no one should be surprised, though, if it happens.

"It is highly probable that you will see a continuing spread of this virus," Cuomo said. "It's highly probable that we will have people in New York state who test positive."

Cuomo said the state health department was briefed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and will be meeting with local health departments in the coming weeks to establish protocol for possible quarantines at people's homes, or, if they are flying into the airport and not from New York, at hotel settings.    

He said the Legislature has already told him they will have no problem approving the emergency spending bill.

The Greater New York Hospital Association's Ken Raske said hospitals have been preparing for weeks and stocking up on protective gear like masks and gloves. He said most of those items are made in China, so they expect disruptions in the supply chain.

State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said the state has stockpiled millions of masks, and he advised the public to not buy the masks and save them for hospitals and for people who are actually sick. 

The governor said during his tenure, the state has gone through a number of public health crisis successfully, and there's no need for "undue fear."

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.