News Mayor warns lack of coronavirus testing may delay reopening of New York City for months

Mayor warns lack of coronavirus testing may delay reopening of New York City for months

NYPD officers applaud the efforts of health workers in New York on Sunday. Photo: PA
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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says it could take weeks, if not months, before the country’s most populous city reopens due to a lack of widespread testing.

Mr De Blasio, whose city is at the epicentre of the coronavirus crisis in the US, said New York needs to be conducting hundreds of thousands of tests a day.

The city’s rate of hospitalisations also needs to decline further before its economy can be reopened, he said.

“We could get there, but we can’t do it without widespread testing and so far the federal government still can’t get their handle on that,” de Blasio told MSNBC, adding that ending social distancing too soon could rekindle the virus.

“The federal government, especially, needs to get the memo that this thing ain’t over and if you pretend it’s over it is only going to boomerang back and make it worse.”

Mr De Blasio’s warning on testing echoed comments by several governors over the weekend disputing US President Donald Trump’s claims they have enough tests for COVID-19.

The US has by far the world’s largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases, with more than 750,000 infections and in excess of 40,500 deaths.

Nearly half of the fatalities are in the state of New York, according to a Reuters tally.

Mr Trump’s guidelines to reopen the economy recommend that a state record 14 days of declining case numbers before gradually lifting restrictions.

Yet the Republican president appeared to encourage protesters who want to reopen sooner, with a series of Twitter posts on Friday calling for them to “LIBERATE” Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia, all run by Democratic governors.

An estimated 2500 people rallied at the Washington state capitol in Olympia to protest Democratic Governor Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order, one of several protests.