Lack of Tests Is Hurting State’s Ability to Slow Coronavirus: Live Updates

Governor Cuomo said that the state had asked 28 private laboratories to prepare to begin testing.


An usher who recently worked at two Broadway theaters is said to have tested positive for the virus.


Here’s what you need to know:

  • Classes at CUNY and SUNY will mostly be held online.
  • The latest numbers: More than 200 cases in New York.
  • A shortage of tests is hurting the state’s ability to curb the outbreak.
  • A Broadway usher is said to test positive for coronavirus.
  • The New York International Auto Show has been canceled, but the St. Patrick’s Day Parade has not.
Hilary Swift for The New York Times

New York’s state and city public university systems, which have a combined enrollment of over 900,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs across dozens of campuses, will conduct most classes online starting March 19, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Wednesday.

The State University of New York system has more than 60 campuses, while the City University of New York system has about 20 colleges and community colleges in New York City, including Brooklyn College, City College, Queens College, and Hunter College.

Neither system will cancel all in-person classes. Laboratory courses could continue to be held, although potentially with fewer students.

CUNY officials said separately on Wednesday that in-person classes were being canceled from Thursday through next Wednesday so that students and faculty members could prepare for the move to online classes.

Some dormitories will probably remain open for students who cannot return home for hardship reasons.

“They are not evicting anyone,” Mr. Cuomo said at a news conference. “They are not closing the dorm and kicking you out.”

The purpose of the move was to “reduce density,” the governor said.

Some SUNY and CUNY graduation ceremonies will probably “not be happening in person” this spring, said Melissa DeRosa, a top aide to the governor.

The decision to shift most public university classes in New York online followed similar moves by most major private universities in the state this week. However, private universities like Columbia and New York University have not said the suspension of in-person classes would last through the rest of the spring semester, which typically ends in May.

SUNY’s student government body, the Student Assembly, released a statement on Wednesday saying students “appreciate” Mr. Cuomo’s decision.

Valeria Bartoloni, left, and her sister Vanina Bartoloni wore masks as a precaution against the coronavirus while visiting New York from Argentina on Wednesday.Credit…Andrew Seng for The New York Times

On Wednesday Mr. Cuomo confirmed 39 additional cases of the coronavirus, bringing the state’s total to 212.

More than half the total, 121 cases, were in Westchester County. Thirty-two people in the state were hospitalized, Mr. Cuomo said. New York City had 48 confirmed cases of the virus, with 12 new cases announced on Wednesday. (Later on Wednesday, the state Health Department updated its tally to show 216 total positive cases in the state, with 121 in Westchester and 52 in New York City.)

In New Jersey, Gov. Philip D. Murphy announced eight new cases of the virus, bringing the state’s total to 23, including a man who was the first in the state to die in connection with the virus.

Officials in Connecticut said on Wednesday that the state had a third confirmed case of infection, a 65-year-old man. Officials said that it appears to be the first state case of community spread.

Globally, more than 120,000 people have been infected with the virus and more than 4,000 people have died, according to official counts. On Wednesday morning, the World Health Organization called the outbreak a global pandemic.

In the United States, the number of known cases of coronavirus infection passed 1,000 on Tuesday night, with cases in 38 states and Washington, D.C. At least 31 people have died.

In an interview with MSNBC, Mr. Cuomo said that he intended to ask business leaders in New York to allow workers to telecommute to help stem the spread of the disease.

He also slammed the federal response to the virus, likening it to the botched reaction to Hurricane Katrina.

“What I’m saying is at least get out of the way,” Mr. Cuomo said of federal officials. “The horse is out of the barn.”

Johnny Milano for The New York Times

A Harlem woman who wanted to be tested was told by health care workers not to worry about her coronavirus-like symptoms. In Brooklyn, a woman had to wait to get tested for the virus until her mother tested positive. A doctor at a statewide hospital network has turned away patients who probably had the virus because they did not meet the current testing criteria.

President Trump has proclaimed that anyone who wants to get a coronavirus test can. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has declared that the state should be testing 1,000 people a day.

In New York, though, the reality seems far more complicated.

Numerous interviews with doctors, hospital administrators and health officials this week revealed a confused and often troubled testing system in New York that has left many people who believe that they have been exposed to the coronavirus deeply frustrated.

On Wednesday, Mr. Cuomo acknowledged that the testing shortage was having a significant impact on the state’s effort to curb the outbreak. He said that he had asked 28 private labs in the state to “get up, get running and start moving forward with testing” in order to “greatly increase our testing capacity.”

An usher who worked recently at “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” at the Booth Theater has tested positive for the disease caused by the new coronavirus.Credit…Robert Wright for The New York Times

An usher who recently worked at two Broadway theaters has tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting a scramble to inform the public and clean the buildings, according to four industry officials who were briefed on the matter.

The usher worked last week at performances of a new revival of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” which is now in previews at the 766-seat Booth Theater, according to the officials, who declined to be identified because they had not been authorized to speak about it.

The usher previously helped manage lines at “Six,” a new British musical about the wives of Henry VIII, which is in previews at the 1,031-seat Brooks Atkinson Theater, the officials said.

It was unclear when the usher, who is under quarantine, began showing symptoms, which can emerge within two to 14 days of infection.

Both shows were expected to go on as scheduled on Wednesday night. The Shubert Organization, which operates the Booth, subjected the building to a deep clean on Wednesday, according to three people who were told about the measure. The Brooks Atkinson is operated by the Nederlander Organization.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

State officials were exploring the possibility of canceling several large gatherings in New York, including the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan, Mr. Cuomo said in a television interview on Wednesday.

Mr. Cuomo said that he had spoken to Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, whose “strong recommendation” was to “reduce large gatherings” like the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan on March 17.

“Why would you risk bringing thousands of people together knowing this is a virus that is easily communicable?” Mr. Cuomo said at a news conference. “St. Patrick’s Day is one of the great convenings of a large number of people. If you listen to the experts, they are saying you should not have a St. Patrick’s Day convening at this time, which I believe makes sense.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday said that city officials were talking to organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which draws thousands of people, about whether to proceed with the celebration.

His thinking on the event — that an outdoor event posed less public health concern than a large indoor gathering — had changed, he said.

“Now people are legitimately saying, hold on, it may not be the parade itself, it may be the ancillary realities,” Mr. de Blasio said. “People crowded on the subway to get to the parade or on Metro-North for example. People going to a bar afterward. That’s what we are assessing right now.”

Already, the spread of the virus has prompted several postponements or cancellations at the Javits Center in Manhattan, one of the biggest and busiest convention centers in the country.

On Tuesday afternoon, the organizers of the New York International Auto Show, an annual 10-day event that is the center’s biggest draw of the year, rescheduled it for August.

The Javits Center’s calendar is now blank through mid-April. Other events that would have filled that gap include a flower show, a hairstyling show, two jewelry industry gatherings and one of the eyeglass industry’s biggest annual events.

The Golden State Warriors are the first N.B.A. team to bar fans from home games in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

A number of other events have also been canceled by organizers this week. Among them was a meeting on “doing business during coronavirus” set to be hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations. A store owner is accused of selling homemade hand sanitizer that injured four boys.

A shopkeeper who owns a 7-Eleven in New Jersey is accused of selling a caustic hand sanitizer that burned the hands of four boys in Bergen County on Monday.

The store owner combined a foaming sanitizer, which was not meant for sale, with water and hawked it in her store in River Vale in an effort to capitalize on coronavirus fears, the authorities said.

The police responded after seeing posts on social media of burns to one of the boy’s arm and leg.

The store sold 14 bottles of the concoction, and the store owner is charged with deceptive business practices and endangering the welfare of children, Bergen County’s prosecutor, Mark Musella, and the state’s attorney general, Gurbir S. Grewal, announced.

“Retailers who try to make a quick buck by exploiting others will face civil and criminal consequences,” Mr. Grewal said in a statement.

Scott Kowalchyk/CBS ENTERTAINMENT, via Associated Press

Applause from a studio audience is as vital to talk shows as monologues and celebrity guests.

But that applause will be silenced for the foreseeable future in New York City after several shows, including “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” announced on Wednesday that they would begin taping without studio audiences because of concerns over the coronavirus.

“Per guidance from New York City officials, the company is hoping to do its part to help to decrease the rate of transmission in our communities,” officials from NBC, which produces Mr. Fallon’s show, said in a statement.

Other shows making the move included “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah,” “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,” Samantha Bee’s “Full Frontal,” “Live With Kelly and Ryan” and “The View.”

As “The View” began taping on Wednesday, the camera panned to dozens of empty seats. “Well, hello, hello, hello,” Whoopi Goldberg, one of the show’s hosts, said. “Welcome to ‘The View,’ y’all!”

“Welcome to ‘The View’,” she repeated seven more times, pretending that there was an audience to hear her.

Then, sitting at a table with her fellow hosts, Ms. Goldberg put it plainly: “For the first time ever, as you can see, if you looked around, we made the decision not to have a studio audience,” she said. “This is unprecedented.”

Reference from The New York Times

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